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


Flipping the kayak

The quicker this is done, the less water you will have sloshing about and contributing to your instability.

Remounting the kayak

  • The point you remount the kayak will depend on your strength, agility and the design of your kayak. Remount as close to the cockpit as you can to make the rescue quicker. Mounting further towards the stern is easier but the re-entry will take longer.
  • You may want to place the grab handle of your skirt in your mouth, or  tuck your skirt under your PFD, to prevent it catching on deck fittings while scrambling.


  • You can use your paddle for additional support during the re-entry. Extend it immediately behind you at right angles to the kayak with the back of the blade flat on the water acting as an outrigger. You’ll need to use both hands to hold the paddle in place.
  • Alternatively, you can gain support from the paddle by sculling during the re-entry.

Safety risks

  • Paddle security is very important.  However, if you are separated from your paddle in windy conditions do not let go of your kayak in order to retrieve the paddle.


  • Whichever method of re-entry you use, keep practising. If you have to do a self-rescue in rough conditions, it will be a lot harder than your practice sessions.
  • Most paddlers find that the paddle float rescue is time-consuming and may not be appropriate for all conditions - for example if the water is particularly cold or rough.
  • Beyond the scope of basic skills, the roll and the re-enter roll are seen as more reliable self-rescues. These are skills we teach and practice for Sea Skills level. Something to aspire to!
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