Recovery Methods

Here are some basic techniques to get you back in your boat. Click on photos to enlarge.

The “Bow Lift”

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This a good way to empty the water from your boat if someone else is not near you. Grab the boat about 1 ft to 2ft from the bow, kick your feet as powerful as you can, and push the boat up by straightening your arms and hold up the bow for a few seconds. You may have to do this a second time, then while holding the bow up, flip the boat over. You can use your paddle to perform this also.

The “Heel Hook” Re-Entry

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The Heel-Hook is great for using with a paddle float self-rescue, and with the assisted re-entry. While your boat is being emptied of water and righted, hang on to the other boat and your paddle. As you face your boat before the re-entry, whatever side of you the bow is on, that is the leg you but in the boat first. But before you do that, reach across the boat with that same-side hand and grab the deck lines of your boat and the other boat, then swing that leg in. As you straighten your leg in the cockpit, pull with the same-side arm (the one holding on to the other side of your boat), and pull yourself up. Then, while staying low, roll over and into your cockpit.

The “Hand of God” Rescue

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This is a fast way to get an unconscious person who is still in their boat back upright, or helping someone who cannot roll up. Place your paddle on your deck and reach across the capsized boat and grab the cockpit coaming. With the other hand push down on the bottom of the other boat in the area right next to you while pulling up the cockpit holding hand to start the roll, then use both hands on the cockpit coaming and pull the far side toward you. There are several good videos on the web to learn the details of doing this, along with the precautions you should consider.

The T” Rescue

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If you flip over and cannot do a roll, and you know someone is nearby, slap your hands on the bottom of your boat to signal for assistance. The other paddler then moves the rescue boat at right angles to yours to make a “T” at the point of your cockpit. You then grab the bow and pull yourself upright.

The “Cowboy” Re-Entry

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If you don’t have a paddle float, this is a method to get back in your boat. Stay low and inch your way to the cockpit from the aft. Stay straddled until your rear end is over the seat, then sit down in the cockpit. Keeping water in your boat while you do this helps to stabilize the craft, making it less tippy. Then pump it out.

-Contributed by Jay Murdock