capsizing post mortem

When you capsize, what has been the main cause (if there is one)?

For me, it’s always been the same thing: a paddle in the stern quadrant.

Curious what others will say.

Who capsizes ??


Self Induced Capsize…
haven’t had that since my first year (and several years ago trying one of PBrowining’s racing craft).

These days, have to be caught pretty much right under the lip of a breaking wave, or doing stupid kayak tricks on a waveface or eddy line or wave/hole.


Tidal Rip

– Last Updated: Sep-06-06 8:32 AM EST –

OOPS! I lie. Completely forgot about my one try so far in surf at the Narrows in RI. Not sure I made the record for the day, but I am pretty sure I hit the joke target of three capsizes within 10 minutes. I was able to come in broach usually and avoid capsizing until near shore, but the one or two times I went for a real surf it didn't work out even that well.
I forgot about it since everyone all the beginners like me were coming out of their boats that day - surf was supposed to be 3 ft and it was coming at more like 5 or so.

Then the regular stuff - Not counting the recoveries from things like blowing a scull or a brace, where I'd already put myself over, the only true unplanned capsizes I've had were two in a row in the tidal races at Woods Hole. The first one happened in the middle of the current and so fast that I really don't know what I did wrong - I had already gotten across it and around a small whirlpool at the end several times - but I would guess that I leaned the wrong way.
The second one was moments later, right after I'd been assisted back into my boat. It was still full of water, and I went over as I paddled backwards to try and get into a nearby eddy to pump it out.
I never saw the first one coming since I'd not been having trouble there - but I probably could have avoided the second one with a better habit of bracing rather than being willing to go over and then resolve my problem. That plan wasn't such a good idea since I discovered I couldn't really figure out how to work things out with that amount of current coming at me, and I lacked the patience at least then to wait for my speed to equalize with the current.

Lately: paddling a new (to me) boat
I went over so many times it was not even funny.

Got embarressed for going over and so I blew a roll, then I got embarrassed for swimming and got over it and did not blow another one all day including the time I did not even have my hands on a paddle and went over from a large ripple ;-).

Overall it’s waves, either steep or breaking, that have taken me over the most.

If one does not capsize…

– Last Updated: Sep-06-06 8:35 AM EST – is not pushing hard enough: the boat is too stable and the conditions are too easy.

Beginners don’t capsize
It’s the intermediates that capsize as they venture into more challenging conditions and surf. Hopefully they can roll by then.

dumping waves
Bohemia, if youre capsizing with your paddle in the stern quadrant what were you using your paddle for when it happened? Try doing various braces and draw strokes in the stern quadrant and see if that improves your blade control. If it’s happening to you while paddling down wave and you’re forcing a rudder stroke then you should be bracing anyway.

broaching in surf accounts for two of my capsizes. once i edged my new boat too far and dumped it.

Evidently my QCC is too stable
since I push hard and go out in rough weather!



Glad to hear that.
Capsized unintentionally for the first time last night, in a pool session. Does that count? Practicing sculling. Starting to lean further over, about a third of the hatch covers in the water. Oops! I need to work on that quick reflex of drop the head, brace, pull up on inside knee.

Of course if I had that down I’d be rolling. Did roll with a paddle float on, but not unassisted yet.

Paul S.

Ha ha ha ha!
I thought it was going to be flatpick who said that!


Mostly whitewater
1) New boat, lean too much over

2) Surf landing, before knowing what (I’m supposed) to do.

3) whitewater (lots of it)

Most of my flips are in whitewater, which is actually half the fun: feeling the power of the water. I also got a lot of pratice on my combat rolls.

I’ve only capsized twice in seakayaks, 1) and 2). Yes, to me, sea kayaks are too stable in flat water.

the harder I play the more I go over.

Anybody know how to roll a sailing canoe?

surf zone
Yep, dumping waves get me quite frequently.

But I’ve got a reliable layback roll.

Rare Except
I have only capsized twice in my QCC unitnetionally. Both times were a result of my not paying attention to what was going on around me. That is excluding time spent this year in the surf attempting to get the hang of beach landing and launching. With those capsizes included my numbers go way up.


Huge hip snap? NM

Too many times
When underway,I have only capsized my current sea kayak when practising braces…never got caught(yet) in conditions that put me over unexpectedly. Did lots of unexpected exits when first learning in wider, more stable craft.

But I do capsize fairly regularly getting out of the d&*%$ed thing. I just won’t run my kevlar yak onto rock or even gravel, so always am floating free when dis-embarking. I do place my paddle behind me in the recommended style, but often don’t have very good purchase on the rocks or shore with the land side end of the paddle. I am over 60 and due to being run over by a truck while jogging (in my mid 50’s), am somewhat stiff. That doesn’t help.

I am so tired of falling over or out on exit that I now spend 80% of my time in my canoe. To do more kayaking…I am looking at replacing my fairly fast sea kayak with something wider (in the 24 inch range) and with a longer cockpit so I can lift my legs out while sitting.


…one is not pushing hard enough…
"…one is not pushing hard enough: the boat is too stable and the conditions are too easy."

I’m still an intermediate paddler and know that when I’m working on braces, sculling, etc…, that if i don’t capsize then I’m not really deepening my skills.

Fortunately, I can usually roll.

Hmm, maybe this is a NC thing? I see JackL uses the same surf zone exception in his numbers. You guys have a WW exception like this too? L

I don’t care about numbers. A kayak ain’t a canoe - and a capsize shouldn’t be a big deal.

All I know is full 3D/360 paddling is a lot better than tenuous 2D paddling used to be, and I need to be pushing it harder than I have been to get to the fun/comfort level I want.