How To Do A Kayak Self-Rescue


Sometimes, although it shouldn’t happen too often, the call of the water could be just too strong to resist, so you’ve decided to push your luck and go for a paddling round yourself. Or you’re simply late to the party, all your friends are long gone and far away, so your only option is to get into the water and paddle quickly if you’d like to catch them.

In either case, there is a possibility of capsizing, especially if you take the weather into the calculation, so it is important to learn how to perform self-rescue if you want to avoid swimming back to the shore. It is not hard but could be a piece of life-saving knowledge. This article will show you how to do it in a few simple steps and be back in the cockpit in a no-time.

On The Shore Trips

Practice how to attach the paddle float to the paddle blade. Practice until you master it and you’re able to do it quickly, without thinking the process through. Make sure the float doesn’t leak before you start your trip. If it does, fix it. Then, before you launch, make sure your paddle float is secure enough so it doesn’t drop if you roll over, but easily accessible if it does happen.

How To Do A Wet Exit

This is one of the most important lessons you’ll have to learn as a beginner.

Before you start paddling away, make sure at least twice that your spray skirt’s grab loop is on the outside of the cockpit, coaming, and in front of you.

When you start to paddle and you get the feeling something is not right and you’re about to capsize, firstly, try to avoid capsizing by bracing. Sometimes a quick brace done properly could straighten you up, so you won’t need the wet exit. If you feel that capsize is unavoidable, the self-rescue operation will start with the wet exit.

When the boat starts to roll over, stay calm! Losing your head is the worst thing that could hit you right now. You need to think clearly, and panicking will only distract you. Try to hold to your paddle, but if you drop it, it is not big of a deal. Once you’re back at the surface, locate it and grab it.

The moment you feel you’re about to capsize, take a deep and quick breath before you go underwater. Then, lean forward as far as possible (“kissing the deck” position), this way sets you up for a quick and easy cockpit exit.

Once you’re under the water, remember, stay calm! It is crucial, as you’ll need to concentrate on what to do next – removing the spray skirt. If you’ve managed to keep the paddle with you, use your free hand to grab the sides of the cockpit’s coaming. If not, use them both. Slide them forward until you reach the spray skirt’s grab loop. Grasp it and pull. If it is a bit more snug, you’ll take a bit more energy, but it shouldn’t be a problem to remove it. If it hangs up, pull the loop forward and up.

Once you’ve removed the skirt, place your hands on the sides of the cockpit’s coaming, right by your hips. Bring your knees together, and push yourself off the coaming. When free and out of the kayak, leave the rest to the PED, as it is created to take you back to the surface. If you lost your paddle along the way, look around and take it. It will help you get back into your kayak.

Rolling The Kayak Over


After the wet exit, it is time to get back into the kayak.  Reach into it while still capsized and get the paddle float. Then hook one leg into the boat’s cockpit to keep it close, while also freeing up your hands.

Attach the paddle float to the paddle blade, the same way you’ve practiced on the shore. When the paddle float is attached, remove your leg from the cockpit, reach with your hand and grab the far edge of the kayak’s coaming. Pull that edge towards you while pushing the hull up and away from you at the same time using your other hand. This should roll the boat over.

When the boat is back to its intended state, place the paddle’s shaft onto it with one paddle blade right behind the cockpit, and the other still in the water. If you think you should slip the paddle blade under the deck rigging to get extra security, but you don’t have to if you think you don’t need to do it.

Getting Back Into The Kayak

After the wet exit and rolling the kayak over, it is time to get back into it. Start by positioning yourself to face the boat on the stern side of the paddle shaft. Grip the shaft strong enough using one hand, then place the other one on the boat.

For the next part, you’ll need the help of your legs. Prepare yourself and kick as hard as you can, use the paddle shaft to support you, and try to rise high enough to place your chest on the deck, behind the cockpit. If this is too hard or you can’t jump high enough to place your chests on the deck, you can slip one knee over the paddle shaft, and use your inner thigh to hold you while sliding back onto the deck.

Remember to use the paddle to keep the stability as you pivot back into the cockpit and slide your legs backward. When fully inside, turn around and settle into the seat. Now it is time to remove the paddle float and place it back in its storage. Then take the pump to remove the water from the inside of your kayak, attach your spray skirt back to its place, and continue to your destination.

Additional Tips

Make sure you have all the safety equipment with you – life jacket, flashlight, knife, a whistle… Also, the best thing to do is not to risk it. If the weather is bad, leave the trip for some other day. And don’t hit the water without a wetsuit or a dry suit, unless it is really hot outside (above 120 degrees Fahrenheit). If you do capsize, and you wear clothes that were not intended for wet circumstances, you could end up with hypothermia or pneumonia. It is not worth the risk.

Before you decide to take the trip, practice wet exit and self-rescue first with the instructor, then on the calm water and in a controlled environment, until you master it. Ask around your local place, there are surely some kayak classes. If you can’t find it, visit the local rowing community or shop, they’ll help you or tell you where to go. And you could also get some of the other accessories that will make your trip better and more enjoyable.

Globo Surf Overview

Kayaking should be fun, but as an activity undividedly connected to nature, it can become really dangerous as sometimes conditions and circumstances can’t be certain and could surprise everyone, so to prevent possible disaster, it is good to learn how to get out of the trouble by yourself if you need to.

But the best thing to do is to bring a friend with you, so if you capsize, you’ll not only have an amazing memory of the rescue mission but also will have someone to make the whole situation easier and way less stressful.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!