Help on Self-Rescue

For a number of years now, I have been doing what I thought to be a cowboy self rescue. The other day I was looking a the Atlantic kayak site, and they showed a very different version of the Cowboy rescue. My question is if I’m not doing a cowboy rescue, what rescue am I doing.

The way I do my rescue goes like this. First this works whether the boat has been dewatered or not. Place your paddle in the rigging behind the seat. If you have a high rear deck you will need a paddle float if your deck a low enough you can do without. On a boat with a keyhole cockpit swim up on to the cockpit rim from the same side as the paddle and place the hand nearest the paddle on rear far side cockpit rim, place your other hand on the near side front of the cockpit. You should now look like your trying to do a pushup, with the boat balanced under you. Quickly push your self up twisting your hip under you and sit your butt in the seat. At this point you should be seating side saddle. Now without pauseing quickly throw the leg closest to the bow over the boat. You should now be straddling the boat. Then pull in your legs. Your now in and can dewater the boat if you haven’t already. The pushup hip twist feels just like doing a sit out from the deep side of a swimming pool where you pull yourself out of the pool and sit in one motion. This also works for my Greenland decked Night Heron with a ocean cockpit with one little difference. Instead of sitting in the cockpit you sit out on the rear deck then bring your legs in first and then drop you butt in. I can be in a keyhole cockpit in 2 seconds and the a ocean cockpit in two and a half seconds. The whole technique is done in one continuous motion, or you can pause at key places to allow a wave to pass. Because its so quick I find I can do this rescue in fairly rough water by waiting for a lull between waves, compared to a conventional rescue which is slow and only seems to work in calm water.


self rescue cow-girl
Sounds like a cow-girl resucue! Since with the cowboy rescue you throw your leg over the back of the kayak, this is analogous to how a cowboy gets on a horse. The cow-girl rescue is more like how a girl gets on a horse, side saddle. No offense intended, but that really is what it sounds like.

You need a different name for your method.

A Cowboy rescue is nothing more than entering from the very stern of the boat by straddling it and then working your way forward.

It is great way for males to be come eunics if you have a seal-line rudder and it is up.



"fairly rough water…"
wonderfully subjective. :slight_smile:

How big the waves compare to you? If you can do this is fairly consistently in 3’ waves/chops, I would be pretty impressed with it. I think learning a reenter and paddle-float-roll, would be a surer method to use in conditions with waves.

It’s always to good to keep practicing and pushing yourself. So, kudos for playing around and learning. :slight_smile:


who thinks 3’ waves are pretty mellow.

you forgot
the first step is to lasso the kayak, which can be tricky in rough water.

I agree with sing.

– Last Updated: Jun-24-07 8:20 AM EST –

The method you describe, original poster, leaves you too high out of the water all the time. Too high when you pull yourself up and sit sideways over the cockpit cowgirl style, and too high wehn you turn to sit over the stern-end of the cockpit while you get your legs in the cockpit and then sit down in.

The scramble is truly, as one poster mentions above, most successfully done with forgetting the paddle (just bungie it out of the way up front somewhere), and push-upping yourself with chest/abdomen over the back deck, turning head toward bow, Spiderman crawling forward and over the cockpit, sitting upright for 1 second and plopping into the seat, keeping legs astride of the cockpit, and then pulling legs in. Lowest center of gravity for longest time with give you a chance of getting in the boat over choppy soup.

A nice tip in a recent DVD I saw about rescues, which says to put your sprayskirt front edge in your teeth before starting this maneuver becuase the skirt tends otherwise to get behind and unde r you, and is hard to pull out in the end, so use teeth.

Puddlejumper and I did about 20 scrambles the otehr night and it's very fast once good at it, but doubt it'd work with an OC. And just like sing said, if it were a real malestrom out there, esp with the OC, you;d need to re-enter and roll as only viable alternative.

Note both paddlers above using extended paddle position. Add paddlefloat and it becomes even easier.

To all, I watched a segment of this DVD with Bohemia, and it rocks. Actual rescue training in actual ocean swells and soup. I plan to order when I order my Pcc Horizon DVD from Pnet this autumn.

It works, right?
And in rougher water. You could give wave height and period you are talking about, that’d probably help the discussion. What you call rough may not be the same as some who have replied. I suspect a fairly long period if you can do this between two waves/swells.

That said, I am going to take a distaff view and suggest that if this is something that you have practiced and can execute quickly, it might be worth seeing how far you can push it in terms of conditions. More rescue options are always good, but nothing is universal. I find some issues with the full cowboy for example - works OK in my Vela because I can get that stern down. But at my size I can rarely get me over the stern or the stern sunk enough to get a good start in the LV so that the cockpit stays at least somewhat clear of water. It’s annoying, because the trip up the back deck would be much less dicey in the LV.

Another Thumbs up for the DVD

– Last Updated: Jun-24-07 9:44 AM EST –

Sea Kayak Safety with Leo Hoare and Olly Sanders.

Each rescue is first demostrated slowly on flatwater then they go out and perform it in the soup.
Great stuff!

And another
Good DVD.

The method described above should be familiar to SOT and ski paddlers. I’ve done it many times on my sea kayak too - GP outrigger give enough assist without float. My QCC,s a bit high aft - and round overall - and it’s easier than standard cowboy with that kayak.

With float, it’s a decent variation on the standard paddle float normally taught.

Sidesaddle rescue
Thanks for the replies. Well I gather by the responses that I’m the only one who does a self rescue like this. So I will call it a Sidesaddle rescue for this discussion.

Ok, when I say rough water I’m talking for me which at this point in my development is 2 footers. I’ll work my way up the scale but want to be sure I have the necessary skills first. As for being to high centered, all I can say is that it is so monentary that I don’t notice any instability. I personally find it easier to do in the Night Heron/ocean cockpit (less upper body strength required) because I only have 2 1/2 inches of freeboard on the aft deck vs. 10 inches on my Old town Nantucket and can do this rescue almost as a after thought. I am of course in the process of trying to get down a good roll, the ultimate self rescue. Though I’m a long way from a bomb-proof roll at this point, even a loud hiccup will make me miss my roll. So I get a lot of practice in sidesaddle rescues.

If you know how to do a sit out from the deep end of the pool, you can do this rescue. The next time your out practicing rescues try this one, you might surprise yourself at how fast and easy it is.


Read again - many do this. NM

Re: Read again
Sorry, I thought you were refering to the DVD.

SOT/Ski Sidesaddle examples

Surf Ski (scroll down to sidesaddle):

With sea kayak - I can do similar, but usually rig paddle (without float) - and it’s a bit more of an issue bringing legs in. With my Ocean cockpit Greenland skin boat I come up just behind cockpit on read deck - put feet in - and slide forward (basically same as my shallow water entry). Actually easier with it’s low flat rear deck.

Re: SOT/Ski Sidesaddle examples
Thanks Greytak, Yep, That’s the way I do it with little variations, depending on the boat I’m using. I see they also call it a Sidesaddle rescue. Interestly enough the article states that they use this rescue in rough water, so I guess my own observations were correct. Good to know I’m not completely delousional. I am curious why I have never seen this rescue shown in any of the books or publications I have read especially since its such a quick and easy rescue. Anyway, Thanks again.