How many times, if ever, have you accidentally capsized?

Just curious how rare or common this is. I’ve been paddling about 28 years and as best I can recall, I’ve only ever flipped in classes (a few times perhaps in surf classes, and once very early on when I was taking a rescue class - we ended up practicing an “all in” rescue). I vaguely recall almost flipping, again pretty early on when I took a stroke with the blade in the wrong orientation and I twisted around too quickly and almost lost my balance due to the lack of expected resistance when blade met water.

I guess the frequency of this is in large part a function of how willing one is to go out in challenging conditions. For the most part, I paddle in protected bays and estuaries, and now a big lake, because those are the kinds of areas I have lived in. But even when I get to the shore (the Atlantic along the southeast coast), I rarely find the conditions to be particularly challenging except occasionally in the surf zone.

Many times… Only once when not paying attention and looking backwards…The head rules. I capsize on purpose many times a year… I don’t consider the number important. I teach paddling… Its good to capsize to show beginners they won’t die

In my first full season, I capsized probably around 40 times involuntarily. Since then, the number has reduced dramatically, and I consider that a mistake. If I never capsize when training my skills, I am not trying hard enough.

Usually getting in or out of the kayak without “bracing” , ie paddle. . Boats have a way of humbling the proud or perhaps over confident.

I did capsize accidently while bracing awaiting my turn to do annual rescue certifications. Don’t stop paddling too soon.

Then there are surf exits. They don’t count.

Too numerous to count.

One serious capsize-and-swim-for-awhile. Lots of capsize-and-roll-ups. I dunno… twenty or thirty? Lots in the surf .


I have flipped many times in white water and playboating. I can recall once in a sit on top (thought I had a fish on and twisted wrong), and one bad swim in a sea kayak-about 1/2 mile offshore, in a gale, while assisting in a rescue… longest swim of my life.

Really not fun when you think you have a bomb proof roll.

Will never do a multi day trip without bulkheads again.

I only started capsizing when l started gaining skills. No risk no growth. Then l started capsizing a lot. Truthfully, after that l am hard pressed to categorize a capsize as an accident or not. I just figure that l did not do something l should have, whether to call that an accident or an expected outcomeof of the activity is beyond me.

In flatwater, I’ve never flipped accidentally. In whitewater, I’ve gone over too many times to count, especially if you include flipping while surfing or trying hard moves.

I capsized my surf ski once. Pushed off from a dock and splash!

@string said:
I capsized my surf ski once. Pushed off from a dock and splash!

Make that thrice. Once when I was riding a little wave to shore and stopped paddling too soon, and once when I stopped paddling while talking to someone. Still haven’t figured that one out. Must have dragged a blade.

Many times, every time I go out. You are not having enough fun. The fun of paddling for me is pushing it to the edge and very often that’s a bit too far. Rolling over is no big deal, just part of the fun.

Last Saturday. We filled the boat up in a big hole, but managed to paddle over to an eddy before tipping over, so it doesn’t count as a swim. :wink:

I don’t swim as often now as I did when I was getting started, but without a roll, I still swim fairly often. Before last Saturday, my last swim was in June.

Playhole Swim

Maybe someday I’ll be a class III boater. Now I’m just a class II boater with class III self rescue skills.

There was a few seasons as a beginner, where I swam a lot during challenging sessions, like surf or current play. I might have been swimming more than paddling. Gradually my roll become more reliable and I swam less, and then my bracing skills caught up, and I started capsizing less often. But in the surf I still capsize, especially if I’m tired.
Getting a surf kayak cranked up my rolling and bracing skills considerably, as did white water park and play surfing. I’m paddling a lot less than I have in ten years due to our 3 year old son, so I’m not working on big water in a sea kayak, mostly just the surf boat and hour long sessions. I’m definitely due for a swim.

In a canoe - never.
In a rec kayak - never.
In a sea kayak - never.
In an elite surfski - more times than there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. And I love it.

While actually paddling in my sea kayaks, I have never capsized. I did capsize once in my rec. kayak, but that was caused by the sizable wave I was riding all the way to shore and I had to make a sudden turn to avoid a log. There were a few times when I got into some situations where I was expecting to be flipped, but the boat was more up to the occasion than I had thought. After years of paddling in very rough, sloppy conditions, I have learned to trust the boat and it always keeps me right side up. Sometimes I will just go out and sit in the slop and bounce around; the boat is not bothered by anything as long as I just stay loose.

Humm here is one

@dc9mm said:
Humm here is one

I think I’ve seen that in a different color boat. The waves look bigger in person don’t they?

First and second years of paddling, was lucky not to have capsized. Once this year while in class. Is getting tossed down by a roller when trying to launch a capsize? If so, then make it two. Other than those, several “oops-I’m-going-over” moments but my kayak saved me.

Earlier this year I came across an article by Wayne Horodowich which made a lot of sense so I’ve been methodically working on improving bracing, boat balance, and other supportive strokes - skills to avoid a capsize.

On the other hand, I don’t paddle in wild and crazy water like dc9mm’s video. That takes skills I don’t have.