Sea Kayaking Self Rescue - The Scramble [Video]

We don’t recommend you go kayaking alone unless you’re very comfortable with at least one solo, self-rescue technique. Here’s the basic scramble…

sea kayaking self rescue

The scramble is just what it sounds like: climbing back into your kayak in any way you can.

This is something you want to practice. Take your kayak out in a safe spot on a warm day and tip it intentionally. Practice scrambling back on and getting in until you can do it easily. It’s best to do this with someone else for safety’s sake.

When you capsize, first find and grab your paddle. Make your way over to the side of your kayak and flip it so it’s right-side up. You’ll want to flip it as quickly as you can to keep as much water out of it as possible.

kayak self rescue

Throw your opposite leg over the kayak to straddle it, then sit up directly behind the cockpit, facing the bow of the boat.

Using your hands to brace on each side, put one leg at a time inside the cockpit, and lower yourself in.

kayak self rescue

If you keep a hand bilge pump in your kayak, you’ll be able to pump out any water that got trapped inside when you flipped it.

Of course, you should wear your life jacket (PFD) at all times!

Again, the most important point is to practice the scramble on a nice warm day until you’re good at it. Go out with another paddler and take turns tipping and climbing back on.

Speaking of going with another paddler—scrambling back into your kayak is much easier with a partner. Paddle with someone else, and you’ll have someone who can help stabilize your boat while you climb back in.

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