How often do you Capsize/Wet Exit???????

I have been reading the post about paddle floats and there is some great discussion. It has sparked another question for me—how often have you capsized, and how often has it caused you to have to wet exit?

The discussion in the other post makes it sound as if this is something that is not uncommon.

I would not go out on the ocean without a paddle float, but I have never used it once. I have been kayaking for only about a year and a half (I know that is not long but I have paddled probably about 1500-2000 miles in that time as I go at least once a week). I have paddled in rivers, lakes and a lot in the ocean now as well and a good bit on moderately windy days 20-25 knots.

I have never capsized in a sea kayak (whitewater is a different story for me though as I have had the opportunity to capsize several times). If I did I would hope that my roll would get me back up. A paddle float would be a last resort (and I would use it to assist with a re-enter and roll as I find this far easier than the traditonal paddle float rescue).

I am by not by any means trying to brag or anything like that. I just have found that sea kayaks are tremendously stable once you get past the tipiness that all beginners experience. I have found that my nerves are always my limiting factor in rough condtions and not actually capsizing.

How often do you capsize, and how often do you needed to wet exit?

I am sure that over the years I will have some capsizes in a sea kayak (and probably many will be the result of just attention lapses / stupidity.


Every single time I go out
99% on purpose. Usually I roll up but since trying the GP thing, my reentries are getting real fast.

Just in the surf zone.
But that seems to be where I spend most of my time lately …surfing. I’m getting better at rolling in the surf, had not had to wet exit for almost two months I believe, but sooner or later I know I will lose my paddle or screw up again soon.

From my experience watching folks in seakayaks who tip over, unless they practice rolling a lot, they will usually wet exit when they tip over by surprise or screw up in a surf landing. So I have made it a point to tip over and roll three to ten times on purpose everytime I get in my sit insides.

My theory is if you are not tipping over, your not having enough fun yet. It’s like down hill skiing with out wiping out. If you aren’t falling down you are not challenging your self and you won’t improve.

first time in years Yesterday
I fell out of the canoe as I was stepping out on a steep muddy bank and slid down the bank and into the muck and the weeds and algae.

I bet it looked terribly funny. Too bad no one else got to see it.

How Often Do You Challenge Yourself?
and how good are your skills? I capsized and wet exited once in my sea kayak in my first year. That was the last time. I have capsized in my SOF a couple of times in some conditions but have rolled up without incident. The trick is to constantly work the roll, not just in “practice sessions” but on trips, year-round, with water temps down into the 30’s, without noseplugs, goggles and what have you unless you paddle with these on.

In white water and surf, I don’t even count the capsizes. They are simply part of the game. I came out of the boat once in white water. I hit a strainer, got my paddle stripped and then immediately sucked out of the boat right through the strainer. In surf, I got sucked out once and had my paddle stripped twice, all resulting in me coming out of the boat.


Once. In a couple of feet of water. I was surfing toward the beach. That was the day I learned about broaching.

I’ve dumped several times…
…while attempting to extract myself with the boat partially aground…(I guess this is a different kind of “wet exit” haha).

I am with you
I have been paddling a kayak for about twelve or thirteen years and I have never capsized yet except while playing in surf riding breakers into the shore.

I have made many long open water crossings and have paddled both in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf, in Alaska, the north east and Florida and many times in rough breaking white cap conditions.

My wife who is my paddling partner and has always been with me has capsized once.

That was in perfectly calm water when she put her paddle down across the deck and turned around to get something out from behind her seat. She leaned abit to far, and over she went.

We both laughed and I did an assisted rescue and we were on our way.

We stopped practicing self rescues a couple of years ago, although I was just thinking the other day that I should practice a few.

I am sure it will happen one day, so it is good to know how to do one.



Dumped Twice!
You can’t judge how often you might dump your Kayak, based on others, as everyone has their own skills, and favorite paddling conditions. I purposely like to paddle when the water is calm, as it is the most relaxing to me. I do enjoy some occasional paddles in rougher water, but only when I feel like I have some extra “energy”.

I have dumped on two occasions since kayaking. The first occasion was 4 years ago when I was taking some Wet Exit and self/group rescue classes. Those dumps were on purpose.

The next occasion was the following spring the first time I took out a new kayak. I was at the boat ramp. preparing to get out of my kayak after an invigorating paddle. My arms were really tired too. While everyone was watching, my right hand lost it’s grip on the paddle and cockpit combing, and the kayak and I dumped over to the left! Everyone got a good laugh, and I was embarrassed! But I did get to explain I was learning to get out of a naw Kayak, at least I felt better about that.

I guess I should practice wet exits,and someday I’d like to learn to roll, but at 54 years old, I can’t “flick my hips” like I used to. So maybe the calm water, and wet exit practice are my best bet!

Other than these two times, I haven’t dumped yet! I did have a couple of times that my “bracing” practice came in handy, so a good brace is valuable too.

But every time I paddle, I have my paddle float, and my bilge pump. I guess there is a first time for everything, and I want to be prepared! I am well aware of “Murphy’s Law #1”! (“Whenever something can go wrong, the worst thing that can go wrong, will go wrong at the worst possible time”)

Happy Paddling!

Here in
Northern Alabama, we have a lot of very flat water. The few times I go over happen when I’m either getting in or out of the boat! Having a bad knee is the pits sometimes.

Most of it is practice, and most of the unintentional stuff is in the whitewater boat where it’s not a big surprise. The last unintentional capsize in the sea kayak was last month during a class on dead-flat water. The instructor was having us toss sponges back and forth as we paddled to get the newer folks in the spirit of play, and when I tried a hard throw across the boat to my left I proved that Newton was right about the action/reaction thing. Went over with one hand on the paddle, set up, and rolled back up.

I did practice paddle-float reentries this spring, and I was impressed by how hard they are compared to rolling. Sheesh!

Just out of Curiosity
I wanted to clarify that my question is really just out of curiousity. I realize everyone’s skills are different and of course it depends on the conditions in which you paddle.

I guess that part of the reasons that I ask the question is because I practice my roll pretty much everytime I paddle. I somewhat enjoy it and I like to have this skill if I need it. Sometimes, however, I question why I do it since I have yet to need it in a sea kayak.

Good point about challenging yourself. I would agree with you on that point, Sing. I do challenge myself on windy/rough days, but like to keep the challenge to what is manageable for me mostly because of the fact that I go out alone.


Ditto For Me…

– Last Updated: Jul-05-05 9:48 AM EST –

I started white water and surfing as way to learn "rough water" paddling and to develop a combat roll. I just simply got addicted. In NE, the most consistent surf is in the winter with nor'easters. This is when I get to go out to surf the most. I don't go way out in my SOF when it's stormin'. So I never encounter conditions rougher than when I am in my surf kayak (or white water boat). I don't anticipate getting pulled out of my SOF in normal "touring" 'cause I'm not out in conditions that *wild* (as with a big breaking surf zone). I don't play in rock gardens with it either since it is a skin on frame. Heck when I go over in the SOF, I don't even need to roll. I simply arch my back and I come right back into a balance brace. There is no foreseeable reason for me to come of the SOF, except an extreme case of illness overtaking me while I am out there.


It’s the best way to stay cool in warm air/cold water conditions if you’re dressed for the water.

Once you learn to roll…
… you might find that you don’t need that skill as much. Once I got comfortable with the roll, my braces became really solid, to the point that I could get the boat almost completely inverted, and just hip flick and brace my way back up.

I have flipped over in the surf many times, rolled back up most of them, and come out on the others. In the surf zone, a paddle float rescue is not a factor. I have done paddle float rescues hundreds of times in classes, but I have yet to use one for myself after an accident (and it’s not that I don’t push myself: I have done numerous trips on the west coast of Vancouver Island and Washington State, along with a 1700-mile circumnavigation of Newfoundland).

I still carry my pump and float with me on every trip though, whether it’s 30 minutes or 30 days. It’s a very cheap insurance policy, and the paddle float makes a fine pillow at night.

I don’t wet exit as much

– Last Updated: Jul-05-05 7:32 PM EST –

but during my first three years of paddling, if I was out with a guide or better paddlers wo overtly encouraged me to push my edge,I swam quite a bit.

Thos years I paddles about 6 times in the a sea kayak play spot about 20 feet of current peaking at abot 6 knots. I learned to ferry that 20 feet with no paddle.

I wii always be working to push my edge where it is reasonable safe, so I will always be capsizing. Roll is working pretty good these days.

At some point…
you will dump. Only in practice sessions so far for me, or controlled situations like training becasue I have pretty good balance. But it’ll happen and I probably will do something stupid the first time it does.

I suggest dumping early and often on your own, like once a paddle similar to rolling, until you get to where you don’t care about it any more.

This is a great question
this is a great question as it has a name, “risk creep” that is the error in risk assessment we all are prone to, that is we experience coming back from many situtions without a consequence and think, hey, I guess it was safe, my roll will be fine. It is like going out during a number of lightning storms and nothing happens and saying, OK guess it is safer than I thought.

Great advice here as at some point your/all of our risk assessments about conditions that day will be wrong and your stretching the envelope will result in bursting it.

Better to go there as folks say deliberately you know for sure whether you are genuinely proficient in those conditions, that is without thinking you can perform the moves in a totally repeatable way with efficiency and confidence and a tranquil mind even if tired, hungry and cold even.

wet exits
I’ve been dumped out of my boat a couple of times on rough water. Once was sheer stupidity: I turned to look up at a jet that was making a low pass and just lost my balance. The fact that there were two foot waves didn’t help.

Another time I wasn’t paying enough attention in the clapotis near shore where two or three footers were being reflected off a sea wall. I was looking for a landmark on the shore and an unexpected wave tossed me into the drink.

But I paddle in these kinds of conditions often enough that I figure my nextx swim is only minutes away (although I am getting better with practice), so whenever there’s really big waves, we go and practice re-entries. It’s kind of fun (although after a couple I’m feeling pooped out.)


My rolls with the GP are definitely

Put the boat in the pool today, until the wife complained that I was banging the bow against the tiles and might break them (never mind the boat though).

Managed to go 3/3 before I felt it was better to get out than tick her off.