Hand of God Rescue

Try as I might, I cannot do this rescue. I know the technique, believe me; I’ve worked & worked & WORKED at it (did I mention I’ve REALLY worked at it?). Aarrrggghhh!!!

Any specific suggestions as to how a 5’4", 125 lbs female (i.e. short arms) might master it?

Or workable alternatives?

Lean…throw your weight as hard as
hard as you can on the edge of the other boat…lift your boat out of the water if you can/need to to get extra leverage…


Same height and just few more pounds of weight, and since you (and I) are usually trying to pull up guys that are at least 60 pounds heavier it’s a rough go. So far I have found I can do it with another person about my size, but as weight or height go up it turns into a no go. I can only get them halfway up.

On the alternative, I’ve seen someone my size pull up those same guys. Just for fun, you may want to see if the folks at Carpe Diem Kayaking in Bar Harbor have any suggestions. Mel is no bigger than either of us, and I’ve seen her get up some very big guys.

It’s difficult
When I was taught the HOG, we were told that not everybody is strong enough to be able to perform it on everybody. A lot of times, you can just hold their head up enough to breathe and hope some one can come and help you. Sometimes two people can work together to do it.

Have victim lay back on the rear deck

– Last Updated: Sep-10-08 6:02 PM EST –

If the victim can help out, have them lay back on their rear deck; if they can't, pull their torso back and try to slide them up onto their rear deck. It is equivalent to the righting moment for a layback roll versus a C-to-C (which never made sense to me anyway.)

P.S. I have never tried it, but I suppose another approach would be to bend them over their fore deck. The point is that the righting moment is the weight of the paddler above the water line times the distance between the center of gravity of the paddler and the center of buoyancy. If you pull the victims center of gravity half the distance to the center of buoyancy then the required righting moment is cut in half.

short people got no reason…
short people got…anyways, randy newman aside.

you’re going to have some challenges with this rescue.

you’re going to have to reach way over and grab something…more than likely you’re going to be stretched out over the upturned boat quite a bit to grab that arm under there…adjust your grip to the pfd strap by the head/shoulder and push them hard back low to the rear deck…now push that high gunnel down hard as you can; all your tiny little weight.

my wife can do this and she’s on the small side too.

don’t worry about it
a HOG rescue, although nice to do, is not the most practical of rescues because upset paddlers usually will not stay upside down in their boats long enough for you to position and upright them—if you want to do it start on someone your own size and work up—I have done it successfully and easily with two full size men in a tandem—push down hard with one arm and pull up with the other.

Eat more BEEF

Paddlin’ on


Practice with …
an empty boat. Here is a link to some pictures of Ginni Callahan demonstrating with an empty boat: http://sports.webshots.com/photo/2950915340083735802shtdgn

Your far hand pushes down on the near side of the overturned hull while your near hand pulls up on the far side of the cockpit. As the boat and victim start to come up use your free hand (far hand) to grab the victim by the pfd to assist pulling up victim while the near hand continues to pull up on the cockpit rim.

Good luck!



only rescue small people

best advice yet
find a boat with nobody in it :wink:

Difficult but not impossible
The trick for short people with weaker upper bodies (I am one) is to really reach over the other boat which is upside down or partially upright, AS FAR AS YOU CAN (I try and make sure that my I am leaning over farther than my breast area) grab the victim by the pfd of the shoulder closest to you and lay them on the back deck.

At this point, their boat is on edge in the water, the victim is usually still with head in the water and dead weight. Don’t worry about it, in practice, they can just turn their head and breath, if for real, just be quick about it. If you do nothing, they will die, if you try, you will at least get their head out.

As you pull the boat tight against yours, the problem is that the boats chines get “locked up”, you need to push the boat slightly away from you which you can do with your chest. (Hence the need to really reach over the body from the start.) The tricky part here is that as soon as the boat starts to roll down, you need to pull it back into your body otherwise the victim will keep right on rolling towards you and you both will be upside down and swimming.

I applaud you for your efforts in trying. This is an important skill for anyone that is leading groups or paddling with others. Don’t give up, you will find a way to do it if you keep trying as it isn’t just about strength but more just a logistical challenge.

Hope this helps.


it should be a lot more technique
I won’t lie to you and say that I don’t defer to brute strength when it all goes wrong.

But if you are only rotating the far side of the kayak with one hand, and then totally cranking down on the cockpit with the other and then as the torso comes to the surface grabbing with the far side hand it should work.

putting all your weight on the near edge with your onside hand while gripping the PFD with the offside. Not easy but few options if paddler is incapacitated.

If you have to do this in a real situation, you’ll probably be super- adrenalinized, and that will probably help a lot. So its probably worth practicing even if results seem discouraging.

Can you just think of it as a roll?
I’ve only done this rescue a couple of times in training, and I weigh a lot, so I’m not sure if what I have to say will have much merit, but if rolling a kayak is more about technique than strength, shouldn’t HOG rescue be the same?

What you are really trying to do is rotate the boat enough for the buoyancy of the pfd to raise the torso closer to the surface. Surely then you can drag a floating torso a few inches to place it over the back deck just like a layback roll. Then the amount of strength you would need would be comparable to the amount of strength needed to roll (ie, very little).

So, maybe HOG should be thought of as rolling for someone who can’t roll himself. The setup is replaced with rotating the boat a few inches so that the torso floats to the surface. The sweep is replaced by dragging the torso over the back deck. The hip snap is replaced by downward pressure on the gunwale.

From the limited experience I have, the people I’ve seen failing at the HOG appeared to be either throwing all of their weight onto the gunwale without thinking about leverage, or didn’t throw their weight on the gunwale at all.

Maybe I’m way off here, but until I practice on a 350 pounder, I’ll never know for sure.

And the winner is…
OK, I took GK’s suggestion & went out & bought a side of beef, which I will eat ALL WINTER so that when spring comes

a) I can turn any kayak & contents upright just by grabbing on and looking the other direction, and

b) I can go back to paddling my Ellesmere.

GK, I understand that our northern barbeque is an assault to the tastebuds. If I bring you some of my beef, will you teach me how to make southern barbeque? :wink:

hand of god can do shoulder damage
Before everyone jumps in and tells me a “properly executed” HOG won’t hurt their shoulder let me just say it IS hard for smaller paddlers or anyone else for that matter trying to get a LARGE paddler up especially in a rec boat. So please be VERY careful when practicing this technique to keep your arms from fully extending and then going past shoulder height as you reach over and roll the other boat up. I’ve tweaked my shoulder and seen others as well as we try to horse the big dudes back up as they run out of air and patience. Best way to practice is to put an extra person-at the back of the boat to be rescued -out of their boat standing in chest deep water to act as a backup like in learning rolls. They only assist when the person doing the HOG struggles to find that “righting point” where the downed paddler pops back up.

The extra help will allow you to safely find the right spots to push-pull and hold without risking shoulder injury.

Good advice to have the downed paddler lean FORWARD to help them roll back up. Seems to work more reliably than having most out of air paddlers try to lie back on the rear deck. Also, it sort of prevents them from instinctively grabbing you as they exit the water. Also very true that adrenalin really helps!

Bullshit. I have seen this rescue done
3 times in conditions. All in places you don’t want the deck popped. Each time, that whole 5 minutes it took to learn the skill by the paddler became very useful. Additionally, I’ve seen it done many, many times on students who don’t have rolls in classes. Can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen that. It doesn’t take much to learn it or refine it.