We all want to enjoy a blissful time in the water while on our canoes whether it’s taking in the sights or doing some canoe fishing. However, having the canoe capsize especially in rough water is something that will happen sooner or later.
It’s a completely unpleasant experience. Gear goes everywhere and you might even end up losing some of your gear. You need to be prepared to canoe self-rescue when your canoe capsizes and you fall off. Having a waterproof flashlight that has a wrist strap can help you look for gear when it goes under. A dry bag will ensure that your other gear remains dry if it falls in the water.
The great thing is that learning to self-rescue is easy and you can know everything that you need in less than an hour.
Part of learning canoe self-rescue is learning the simple beginner’s guide to canoeing.
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Self-rescuing when you are alone
The first step to self-rescue after a canoe capsizes is to flip it back into the right position. Keep in mind that water will probably have gotten into the canoe and you need to take it out before you can get back on it.
If you are alone, then righting the canoe can be difficult. One way to do this is to get underneath, lift it out of the water, and flip it.
Sometimes the canoe may feel heavy and you may not be a strong swimmer. In such a case simply flip the canoe over even while being full of water and then take a bailer and start removing the water as fast as possible.
Other times you may need to untie your canoe gear and equipment from the canoe to make it lighter. Another great alternative is to use a longer rope to tie the gear. That way they do not get lost.
If you have managed to flip over the canoe and bailed most of the water out, it’s time to get inside the canoe. This is where things get tricky and you will need to know how to get into a canoe from the water as the canoe can lose balance and flip over again.
Start by grabbing the gunwales at the stern. This is where it is most stable and has the least chance of flipping. With a single launch pull yourself and rest your chest on the gunwales. You may find it helpful to place any gear or load on the opposite side to where you are jumping in from to help counteract the weight.
With your chest on the gunwales, roll the rest of your body over and fall into the canoe. It’s now a matter of turning your body and sitting down.
Bailout any remaining water and if there is gear that is still floating away, paddle towards it and pull it into your canoe.
It is also important to learn important canoeing safety tips to help keep you safe in the water.
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Self-rescuing when there are two of you
It is far easier to right the canoe when there are two of you and the great thing is that there wouldn’t be any need to bail the water. Simply get underneath the canoe, lift it in the capsized position to drain the water, and then flip it over.
Next, the two of you should position yourselves at opposites sides of the canoe but not directly opposite each other so as not to get in each other’s way when attempting to get back on the canoe.
Now it’s time to learn how to get into a canoe from the water. Pull yourselves over in unison to maintain the balance. Ensure that the torsos are into the gunwale as much as possible. Give yourselves some time in this position to allow the canoe to settle. Then roll your bodies again in unison and put over one leg into the canoe.
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Now it’s only a matter of rolling the body further and both of you getting onto the canoe. As you do this, remember that each person is holding the canoe with both their hands as well as with the chest and stomach and with the torso.
Lastly, you will need to get situated. You should both take care so as not to flip the canoe again. Once you are both on the canoe, you can take turns to ensure that you get a good sitting position.
Things can get dangerous if you were canoeing in salty water and sharks are swimming about. In this case, never forget to carry your shark repellents.
What to do afterward
Having canoe self rescued yourself from a capsized canoe, it is almost always a good idea to head back to shore where you can recover from the ordeal. Check whether all the canoe gear and equipment is there and which gear has been lost.
A waterproof watch will help you keep time even under the wettest conditions.
If the water was cold, change from the wet clothes and light a fire. It always helps to carry a survival lighter. The better if you can make hot tea to warm yourself from the inside. It will be great if you can also make camp and build a shelter.
If you didn’t manage to achieve your goals in the water whether it’s getting across the river or doing some fishing, you can get back to it after you’ve rested. Having water socks will keep your feet dry and lessen the chances, even if it’s slightly to developing hypothermia.
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Capsizing in a canoe is going to happen sooner or later and it’s therefore important to know how to get back on it. lack of experience with canoe self-rescue techniques can make getting back on the canoe a difficult and frustrating task. However, learning to self-rescue means that you will be back in your canoe in no time.