Paddling with a partner is more enjoyable and risk-free. However, if you choose to go it solo or if you find yourself having to swim long distances after your paddling buddies have left you behind, then you’ll need to know how to rescue yourself or else face a very long and tiring swim.

This article assumes you’ve mastered the wet exit. Below you can find some basic self rescue tips that will get you back in the cockpit again:

  1. Right your kayak.
  2. Get back in your kayak.
  3. Paddle to shore.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to self-rescue, follow these steps and you’ll be back in your kayak and on your way in no time.

  1. Do a wet exit.
  2. Grab your paddle float from beneath your boat.
  3. Attach the boathook to the leg of the cockpit to keep the boat close.
  4. Hook your knee over the paddle to help lift yourself out of the water.
  5. With your other foot, push off the rear deck to shimmy your body onto it.

While it’s always best to learn survival techniques like the wet exit, self rescue, and T-rescue from an experienced guide or instructor, it’s also important to practice them in a calm, safe environment until they become second nature. This way, if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation, you’ll be more likely to remember what to do and be able to act quickly and efficiently.

Before You Capsize

  • In order to ensure you’re prepared in a rescue situation, it’s important to practice attaching a float to a paddle blade. If the float is inflatable, make sure to check for air leaks before heading out onto the water.
  • Before you launch, make sure to check that your paddle float is securely stowed away. The last thing you want is for it to be lost in the water while you’re trying to get back into your kayak. One good place to keep it is under the deck lines in front of the cockpit. That way, it’ll be easy to grab if you need it.
  • If you feel your boat capsizing, quickly perform a brace to prevent it from fully flipping over. If you’re unsure of how to do this, read a guide on the subject or, better yet, sign up for a class.

First Steps After Capsizing

Once you’ve tried everything and it doesn’t seem to be working, take a deep breath and follow these steps:

  1. If you lose hold of your paddle, perform a wet exit and retrieve it now. 
  2. Reach underneath your overturned craft and recover the paddle float. This will help you keep your boat afloat and allow you to paddle to safety.
  3. Step one leg into your boat’s cockpit; that will keep it close by and give you the ability to use both hands.

Righting the Boat and Setting Up the Float

The goal is to keep the float on the paddle, the boat upright and the paddle properly positioned. This will help you stay afloat and paddling in the right direction!

Use one hand to pull the edge of the boat toward you while using your other hand to push up on the hull. Push hard on the hull to minimize how much water gets inside as you flip the boat upright. For more details and updates on kayak safety tips, follow My Kayak Guide, a blog that will give you 100% correct and genuine information about kayaking. 


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