Self Rescue

Self rescue is a method of getting yourself back into the kayak after capsizing.  This is essential if you plan to paddle alone.

Scramble Rescue Tips Common Mistakes Drills Paddle Float Rescue Paddle Float Tips

Scramble or 'cowboy' self rescue

After your wet exit, the scramble rescue can be broken into the following stages:

Flip the kayak upright

  • Put one hand either side of the cockpit coaming.
  • Flip the kayak quickly, pulling with the away-side hand, and pushing upwards with the near-side hand. This minimises the amount of water retained. 
  • If an electric pump is fitted, turn it on as soon as the kayak is upright (water in the cockpit destabilises the kayak).
  • Hold onto your kayak at all times and ensure your paddle is secured.


  • Position yourself between the cockpit and the stern.
  • Hold onto the decklines on the far side of the kayak and float your legs behind you so that you are at 90 degrees to your kayak, forming a T-shape.
  • Push the kayak down and seal launch yourself with a strong kick of the legs to get your tummy lying across the back deck.


  • Swivel around so that you face forward with your legs straddling the kayak for stability.
  • Pull yourself forward until you are in a position to re-enter the cockpit.
  • Stay low.


  • Get into the seat quickly (to keep your centre of gravity low). Your size, balance, flexibility, the size of your cockpit opening, etc. will influence how you do this.
  • Once you are in a position to re-enter the cockpit, sit up with your legs straddling the kayak.
  • If your cockpit is big enough, slide your backside into the seat, then your legs, one at a time.
  • If this is not possible, sit on your back deck, put your feet in and then slide into the seat.
  • Move as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
  • You can use your paddle for additional support during the re-entry stage.
  • Once back in your seat, re-attach your spray skirt, and retrieve your paddle.
  • If you don't have an electric pump you may need to hand pump to minimise the risk of re-capsize. During this time you will be vulnerable, with the skirt off and your hands on the pump rather than the paddle.
      Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software