How to Self-Rescue if You Capsize Your Kayak [Video]

kayaker with self-rescue skills

Watersports are generally very safe, but we still need to know what to do in case of an emergency. For kayakers, that includes knowing self-rescue skills.

Watch this video from expert kayaker, Ken Whiting, and the ACA (American Canoe Association):



Here’s a summary of Ken’s suggestions:

Practice Self-Rescue Skills until they’re Easy

Because a capsize usually happens in rough conditions and often without warning, you want to practice these self-rescue skills in calm water until they become easy.

Until you have these down, consider paddling close enough to shore to be able to comfortably swim in case of an emergency.

Have a Bomb-Proof Roll if You’ll Kayak Alone

If you’re going to kayak alone regularly—especially in big waters, surf and whitewater—you need a bomb-proof roll. It’s the quickest way to right your kayak and yourself when you capsize…but it takes a lot of practice.

The best way to learn is in a rolling clinic or from someone you know who can teach you the proper technique.

The Scramble Rescue

This method is just what it sounds like—you’ve exited your kayak in the water, flipped it back upright, and you’ll scramble back on and in.

Approach your boat from the side, just behind the cockpit. Kick your legs near the water’s surface and pull yourself up on the stern end. Throw one leg over to sit on your boat, and pull yourself up enough to get your rear end in the seat first. Use your paddle to brace yourself as you put one leg at a time back inside the cockpit.

Paddle Float Rescue

If you keep a paddle float in your kayak, this will give you added stability as you climb back on and in.

paddle float self-rescue

Inflate the paddle float and attach it to one end of your paddle. Place your paddle perpendicular to the kayak with the float in the water and use it to help brace yourself as you climb back on.

You’ll use your paddle for leverage while you make your way back inside the cockpit.

Keep a Bilge Pump in Your Kayak

Once you’re back inside your kayak, you’ll have to deal with the water that’s been trapped in there. Keep a bilge pump with you so you can easily bail it out.

Our BilgeMaster Pump expels the water quickly and easily. Don’t leave shore without it!

Using Aqua-Bound's BilgeMaster Pump

More Videos about Self-Rescue

Here are two more articles with videos about self-rescue when kayaking:

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