Capsize Recoveries


Capsize Recovery vs Rescue
To begin, let's define and discuss the differences between a capsize recovery and a rescue. A capsize recovery is the act of getting yourself upright in your kayak or getting back into your kayak with you and your kayak ready to continue on your way. It is NOT an emergency.

A rescue is when you are in trouble and you need a higher level of assistance in order to survive. It is an emergency. I believe making this distinction is important. In early days of modern sea kayaking, a capsize and wet exit was an emergency and calling it a rescue was appropriate. As our collective skills have increased and our equipment has improved, a typical capsize is no longer an emergency if you are dressed and trained properly.

Kayaking is a wet sport. A capsize should be no big deal. I do not suggest that we take capsizing lightly. I am saying we should train ourselves so a capsize does not become an emergency. However, if it does, we will also review rescue procedures.

Capsize Recovery Theory - There should be a sound reason for performing skills in a particular way and even choosing which methods to use. If you have your goals clearly stated, then your actions should help you achieve those goals. If your actions do not help you accomplish your task, you may wish to reevaluate why you are doing them. Since the number one cause of death in Sea Kayaking is exposure to the elements, our actions should focus on this fact.

Capsize Recovery Goals - When I capsize my goals are:
1) to minimize my exposure to the elements
2) be in my kayak ready to paddle with kayak in seaworthy condition.
Of course, I can avoid all of this if I master the skills to keep me from capsizing, however, when a capsize does occur I can minimize my exposure by dressing for immersion and having quick and effective recovery techniques. As for being in my kayak and getting it sea worthy, I need to have the water out of the kayak, skirt on, recovery equipment stored and be ready physically and emotionally to paddle in the conditions I am in.

Dressing for immersion is the primary method of minimizing your exposure to the elements. We will review dressing for immersion along with exposure and treatment for hypothermia on other pages.

If you wish to see a comprehensive video review of these recoveries instead of just reading about them, then get a copy of our "Capsize Recoveries & Rescue Procedures" video. See views from above, at water level and underwater shots in order to view the details one needs to truly understand the techniques.


Recovery components

Approaching A Panicked Swimmer
Bow Slide
Stabilizing a kayak at the cockpit
Moving around a kayak - "Walking a kayak"
Keeping your paddle
Hang time
Body control
Emptying Water
In water draining methods
Wet exiting

Wet entry

Assisted recoveries

Eskimo bow recovery
Eskimo paddle recovery
Hand of God (Hand-up recovery)
Wet re-entry and Eskimo bow recovery
Dual wet re-entry and Eskimo recoveries (all-in recovery variation)
Dry re-entry and pump
Cleopatra's Needle w/Curl with TX-Recovery
Stirrup Recoveries
All in recovery (Traditional)
On water repair
Utilizing the group
Capsize & T-Recovery Combo

Solo recoveries

Swimming attached to a kayak
Extended Paddle Roll
"Back-Up" Rolling Aid
Wet re-entry and roll
Wet re-entry and roll with a paddle float

Paddle float recovery
Paddle float with stirrup
Sea Wings recovery
Scramble recovery
Side scramble recovery
Paddle Swim
Swim towing a kayak and paddles
Swimmer assists
Surf zone recoveries

Double (Tandem) Kayak Recoveries

Double advantage
Dry re-entry and pump

Paddle float recovery
Assisted recoveries
Rolling doubles
Paddle float rolls
Scoop Rescue/recovery

Folding Kayak Recoveries


Sit-on-Top Recoveries

Assisting closed deck boats
BBF Recovery

Entry options

Outfitting for recoveries
Paddle floats & stirrups
Scramble Recovery


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