You have become a proficient paddler capable of launching, steering, turning and stopping a kayak. That’s great, congratulations! But you shouldn’t stop there. You need to go beyond these basics and get ready for the worst that could possibly happen when you are out on the water. That is when your boat overturns.
You may not know it, but the chances of a kayak capsizing are quite high and every kayaker will experience overturning one day. Because capsizing is such a core part of the paddling experience, sometimes abrupt but often done on purpose or for fun, you must be ready for it.
How do you recover once your kayak has capsized? You will need to apply different skills to achieve this depending on whether you remain in your seat or fall out of it as the boat capsizes. There are specific techniques you need to do in each of these scenarios.
Recovering When Still in Your Seat
The most common and easiest recovery technique when in your seat is the Eskimo Roll. It is accomplished in these 3 steps.
To stay safe and recover quickly, you should be able to anticipate that your kayak is capsizing and act swiftly to avoid being fully submerged. So you can’t just sit and wait until you are fully submerged. You must act before you are completely underwater.
2. Positioning the Paddle
Once you realize the kayak is capsizing, bring the paddle in a position parallel to the boat and roll your wrist forward. Then turning the paddle, reach out and grab the water to enable you to bring the paddle up near the water surface.
3. Flipping the Kayak Upright
Since the kayak has overturned and is now upside down, you need to flip it back upright. Use your hips to do the flipping. Remember that your arms can only help to position the paddle, they are not the key factor in turning the kayak upright. Throw your hips to the left and to the right while still underwater as if wriggling in your seat. This will provide the momentum to turn the kayak upright.
For the Eskimo Roll technique to work, you need to practice it a couple of times. You don’t want to take your safety for granted when going out in an open sea. So it is prudent to master this move and be ready for the moment you will need to put the skills to test.
Recovering When You Have Fallen Out of Your Seat
What if the kayak overturns and you fall out of your seat? That requires a different technique.
1. The first step should be returning your kayak to an upright position. You should do this by reaching under your kayak and grabbing both sides of the cockpit rim. Push the cockpit rim over and flip the kayak back upright.
2. When the kayak is upright, reach across to the opposite side of the boat and pull your whole body up onto the kayak, like someone climbing out of a swimming pool.
3. Once inside the kayak, flip your body over and slide back into your seat. Position yourself in the sitting position and continue with your paddling quest.
That is how to get your kayak back upright and position yourself in your seat after a boat capsizes, whether you fall out or remain in the kayak as it flips over. You will need to practice these skills in order to master them and be ready for any eventuality during your kayaking trip. But you must never ever try practicing these techniques without the close supervision of your instructor. Remember, at any given day the waters may be quite unpredictable and the risks variable.
One last note: Don’t panic if your boat capsizes accidentally. Panicking can quickly blow the situation out of control and place you in grave danger. Just try to remain as calm as you possibly can be and use these techniques for a quick, safe recovery.
Would you like to rent a stable, comfortable and safe kayak for your next paddling trip? If you are visiting Florida’s Crystal River, check out Captain Mike’s Kayak Academy. With our wide range of affordable kayaks, many years of experience serving kayakers of various needs and our strategic location, you will enjoy all the convenience you need for an invigorating adventure. For more information, visit the “’Captain Mike’ Kayak Academy” site.
- KayakPaddling.net. (2007). How to do eskimo roll. Retrieved from https://www.kayakpaddling.net/4-4
- Hevina Kaur. (2014). How to recover a capsized kayak to the upright position?. Retrieved from https://www.myactivesg.com/sports/canoeing/training-method/canoeing-for-beginners/how-to-recover-a-capsized-kayak-to-the-upright-position
- Outventurist. (2018). Learn how to roll a kayak with these 2 simple techniques. Retrieved from https://outventurist.com/kayaking-tips/how-to-roll-kayak/