4 Methods of Kayak Self Rescue

In the anticipation of a kayaking trip, you always seem to remember the lip balm, water, pfd, and paddle, but are those really enough? Sure you’ve got your dry bag packed and your car loaded up, but are you fully prepared for what awaits you on the water? Before you hit the water, be sure you know how to re enter your boat in case you capsize. Be sure to practice these in flat water before heading out.

Wet Exit
First things first, be sure you know how to perform a wet exit. A wet exit is basically the action of you getting out of your kayak while it is upside down. To practice, tuck your body towards the deck of your boat and get as close as you can. Roll your weight to the left or right until the boat flips over. As you are now completely upside down, grab the loop of your spray skirt and pull it off of the cockpit. I promise you that even though it was a bitch to get on, it will come off with ease. Then, push the kayak up, forward, and away from you. You will surface and have successfully performed a wet exit.
Paddle Float
The paddle float is one of the greatest pieces of gear that you can have in your boat and is a vinyl balloon that attaches to your paddle blade. If you boat is upside down, place one leg in the cockpit to keep it from floating away and place your paddle high in between your legs to keep it from getting away and so you can attach the paddle float. One attached, flip your kayak upright and insert the paddle blade without the float under the back rim of the cockpit or under the bungees in back. Stretch your body across the paddle shaft while grabbing the front cockpit rim with your feet in the water and near the float. Lift up with your arms and legs, and lift your self up into the cockpit in one motion. Always maintain weight on the paddle float as you rotate your body to the normal position. Once you are seated correctly, pump the water out of your boat, remove the paddle float, and keep on paddling.
Like any reentry, at some point, you got out or were forced out of your boat. So when you surface, flip over your boat and stick your paddle in the cockpit so it won’t float away. Move to the back hatch of your boat, and launch yourself out of the water onto the back deck. The more you climb on, the lower it will sink. Straddle the back deck and slowly inch your way to the cockpit. Slip your feet into the cockpit and hoist yourself into the seat. Bruises may come from the straddling of the kayak. This move takes practice to get the balance down.

Eskimo Roll
Once you have mastered the art of rolling over and exiting your kayak, you should be used to being submerged. Twist your torso to the right and retract your right arm, bringing your paddle face in an arch across your deck in front of you and into the water on the right side of your boat, following through completely all the way back to the stern, along the right side of the boat. The higher an arch you make, the more flipping power you give yourself, but it has to feel natural and not compromise your ability to pull the paddle against the resistance of the water. If you don’t get it the first time, don’t worry. Just try again until you get it. Be sure to practice with a buddy for safety purposes.