Hand of God Rescue

I need help. I tried this with a willing victim and was unable to get him up. I could get him to the surface of the water but was unable to right the kayak. My willing victim stayed limp as to not help with righting the kayak. All the youtube vids, the rescuee stayed rigid in there boats which would simulate recovering a victim with regermortise(sp}.

Any advice as I’m not sure how much longer my victim is going to stay Willing!


not rigid, but limp

– Last Updated: Aug-24-09 7:18 PM EST –

The rescue needs to feign being limp. So once they start coming above the water, their torso will either fall back toward the back deck, or forward towards their spray skirt. This lowers the center of gravity, and (hopefully) allows the rescuer to bring the person up. Nearly impossible if this doesn't happen.

So for practice, ask the person being rescued to either hug their front deck, or lean back on the back deck.


– Last Updated: Aug-24-09 7:30 PM EST –

is not ridgid....the one hand on the PFD shoulder strap pulls them to the back deck...the other transfers pressure to the deck area along side the cockpit.....and UP they come....

you have to dedicate to the boat and paddler that you are rescuing

if they are ridgid....you are too late...

Best Wishes

Limp Victim
He was staying limp, I’ll try laying him on the back deck.

To second that in other words…
you might have to be aggressive about pushing down on their boat edge while pulling up on their pfd.

Aggressive push
I couldn’t get a good push as most of my body was laying over on top of his hull in order to grab him. This also caused our boats to be tight together which also interfered with righting his boat.

Hand of God
is more of a transfer of weight.

drape yourself over the other hull…grab as close to the shoulder as possiable and activly make sure they are pulled to the back deck…then at the same time as holding them to the back deck, you pull on them to rotate them as you push on the edge of their kayak along side the cockpit.

if you have them on the back deck they pop up easially.

if not…you struggle and eventually learn to hold pull and push.

none of your weight is in your kayak…it is all transfered.

if these mechanics are adhered to…small people can rescure large people too…the biggest drawback to smaller statured people doing this rescue is reach…

they really have to be at home drapping themselves onto the other persons kayak and reaching.

it is very difficult to reach as far as the pfd shoulder strap on a first time effort.

sometimes it demands working them to the back deck in stages…

this rescure can be done by anyone on anyone…as long as the person doing the rescue is TOTALLY at home with the shifting of their body from their kayak to the others and gets the rescuee’s body back on the deck.

this is a rescue where leverage and rotation make up for brute strength…it needs to be practiced to understand how to do it with ease.

hope some of this helps

Best Wishes


Good Advice
Thanks, I’ll be out on Weds. to give it another try providing my willing victim is still willing!

From one of them smaller people…

– Last Updated: Aug-25-09 7:56 AM EST –

I haven't mastered this one with a particularly tall or large guy myself. But things that I have to do correctly to even have a prayer -

Grab the rescuee from as far back on their boat as possible to reach them, to be at the narrowest possible part. I've seen people start for the grab over the other boat's cockpit - unless you are very tall, you won't have arm left to move the torso back. Sometimes you can get a wrist and use that to kinda climb up the torso to the PFD strap.

As above, pin them to the back deck.

The righting is where I have a problem - I have hit a wall where it's hard for me to keep someone large on the back deck and still have weight or movement left to really get their boat started over. One woman friend of mine found she had to lift up her torso and then really slam all available weight down on the near edge of the rescuee's boat to get it going. (Rescuee was a 6'5" guy.)

Also, best learned with other than long fingered gloves. The last time I practiced this with my husband I ended up getting the gasket on his drysuit. Didn't rip it, but the suit suddenly became a lot less dry.

To add to Celia’s point…

– Last Updated: Aug-25-09 8:34 AM EST –

...one thing I've found with HOG rescues is that it's very difficult to do them if you are in a low volume boat and the victim is in a high(er) volume/wide beam boat, as you have to reach UP and OVER the hull to get to them. That makes it hard to reach the victim, let alone maneuver them onto the aft deck and push down on the near gunwale. It really becomes a problem on a wide boat when you are trying to pull it up on edge.

I've come to the conclusion that in some cases, it's just not possible to do an HOG rescue, regardless of how good your technique is. In that event, your best bet would probably be to:

- Place your paddle across both boats for support.
- Reach under their boat and pop their spray skirt.
- Grab the shoulder strap of their PFD and pull them out of the cockpit and up between the boats, using the paddle for support.

This isn't likely to be easy, but it at least gives you a chance of getting their head above water. You'll need assistance in order to do anything else, but it could buy you valuable time. If nothing else, it's better than simply letting them hang upside-down if an HOG rescue fails.

Neat idea Brian
Thank you. This is a great explanation of a very safe way to pop someone’s skirt on the water.

By the way, sometime last spring Sea Kayaker had an article about an alternative to the HOG rescue for smaller people. It involved going to their bow and bringing the boat up from there. I don’t know if that has been tried much and any results - I haven’t had a moment when I had really looked over the article recently and a willing victim. And I have some hesitation about its safety - rescuer’s head is up close and personal with a hard pointy bow.

Has anyone given this thing a good run?

Search “Hand of Pavia”…
…on Google videos.

what if the rescuee was limp?
Would that technique still work? Seems like he would finish slumped to the side, and just flop back in when the rescuer took his head out of the water.

Hand of Pavia?
Once again, another video of a stiff body of a rescuee, I don’t think that this would be typical of an unconsious paddler. Thou it may be a valid rescue if said paddler was not familiar with helping himself. { t rescue, paddle across or such}

the grip
You’ll never get them upright hanging onto the person, you lose too much leverage. You need to grab the down side of the coaming. Your boat will be nearly at a 90 degree angle with the water if you’re in a low volume boat and they are in a big one specially if you’re small. It’s a long reach. If your boat isn’t on it’s side, you’re not reaching far enough.

Bill H.

Cockpit coaming no

– Last Updated: Aug-26-09 8:51 AM EST –

I am 5'4", and I hit a wall when a 6'4" (or 5", he's darned tall) decided to throw a couple a couple of pretend capsizes at me. I was in my larger volume boat, the Explorer LV, not my little Vela, so had the best chance I was going to get. And to then hadn't tried a HOG on other than a very helpful, smaller person.

My boat was past 90 degrees just holding his head out of the water and his boat partway up, but couldn't get the leverage to go further.

I tried reaching for the far coaming, no go because I had to be in the middle of the boat to get it, and I had a significant length of torso hanging off my other arm that wanted to wander out from the boat. Anywhere other than pinned to the deck, that dead weight torso was beyond my strength. (and that is with having regular time at the gym doing weights that season)

The ONLY place I was going to have leverage was if I got him onto the back deck, by which I was behind the cockpit, and then could try to affect a skinnier part of the hull.

The female coach there was my size or an inch shorter. She demo'd it with this guy fine getting him onto the back deck and bringing the boat up from well back towards the stern, and pretty effortlessly.

This might work for a situation where the rescuee and rescuer are well matched, but not for small rescuer/big dead weight.

I like the idea…
…of being behind the cockpit and working at a narrower part of the boat. I’ll have to try it. When you tried this, were the boats pointed in the same direction or opposite? It seems like being pointed in the same direction would work best.

Not the same at all
The technique demonstrated is an assist for a paddler who can’t roll, but is under control and knows what to do to make this work. I doubt it would work with an unconscious victim. The one valuable lesson from this video is that it shows you how to use your own weight to the greatest advantage.

Hmm - to remember…
The first time I completely screwed up, didn’t even get his torso up, I was facing the same way. The next try, where I got his head out of the water and then got jammed, I was facing opposite. Neither direction seemed to have much to do with my problem.

I am not sure which direction the boats were when the instructor demo’d it.

At a local practice session a couple of weeks ago, we saw a smaller guy do it facing opposite with a very big guy that was kind enough to serve as the acid test. He managed it after some noticeable effort, but again I don’t know that the direction was of significance.

One thing I haven’t tried is going to the bow and just flipping someone up, which would be the fastest if you were paddling close by and parallel with another person. Seems to work for smaller people, at least to a point, and obviously facing the same way.

Hand Of God Success!
Went out tonight and gave it another try.

Thanks to all for the tips. I was successful with this rescue.

I found that the more you laid the person on the back deck and kept them there through out the movement the easier it was.

I found that pushing their boat in the opposite direction as you were laying them on their back deck helped.

Also found not to start righting their boat until they were on the back deck.

Then lifting up and back on their pfd shoulder strap with a good push down on the side of the hull and UP they came.

Thanks Again