New (or Old) Name for Hand of God Rescue?

In the fall I was taking an aca recert class…The instructor gave me a long description of a rescue I was supposed to demonstrate. I was scratching my head and said “so you want me to demonstrate a hand of god?” I was told by the aca trainer that the terminology had changed to be more inclusive. My thoughts at that time were, “God is about as inclusive as it gets” and “if you’re passed out, upside down in a boat, then you’re about to meet him.”



That is quite presumptive

A not insignificant, and growing, part of the population identifies as atheist. Personally, religion as no place in my life and any instructor that brings it into training loses my confidence. We are all free to believe what we want, but thinking everyone should be OK that pulling religion into everyday life is misguided at best.

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I’m fine accepting, for the sake of this discussion, that it works for most smaller rescuers. I also know from first-hand experience that there are those who can’t make the combined “reach/pull - rotate the kayak” work with a larger person, who can right that same person in the same situation while abandoning the “reach/pull” piece, and focusing on the “rotate the kayak” piece.
I think what happens is that the person needs strength and weight from both hands to rotate the kayak, and if they abandon that before the person’s weight is over the kayak, they have neither the strength to pull them up, nor the strength to continue rotating the kayak. It stalls out. You could envision it as rotation stopping halfway through a roll, and then the person trying to bring their own upper body up before the kayak is all the way uprighted. Back down they go!
A way to look at it is that in any method you will eventually reach over and stabilize the person’s body over their kayak. The question will be, when your arm is extended, how much weight are you capable of dragging up with one hand? How much leverage can you generate from that position given your body size? How much strength do you need to continue rotating the kayak? Is it possible that concentrating strength more on fully rotating, or even over-rotating the kayak if that’s the way of describing it that proves most helpful, might enable some paddlers that were otherwise not able? I’ve certainly experienced it.

hey I shared my thoughts. You don’t have to agree or like them. They’re my own warped thoughts, I’m not looking for validation.

I’m okay with singing kumbaya without you,…just know that if you flip over in a rapid and If I’m in a position to assist you then I will try to. You see, my God, that you don’t believe in, tells me that is what I should do.

You can believe what you want. We’ve already renamed rapids like “guides revenge” to the tongue in cheek “fuzzy box of kittens”. Personally, I think naming a rapid “Coming Home Sweet Jesus” is pretty descriptive.


As long as we are on the topic we need to change Eskimo Roll to Indigenous Circumpolar Peoples Roll.

Eskimo is now an offensive term describing the Inuit people.

No Eskimo Pies as well.


Each rescue situation is a little different. I’ve yet to see any small paddler not be able to right someone by implementing the rotational forces of pulling with one hand on whatever can be grabbed (ideally the PFD) and pushing down with maximum personal weight to rotate the kayak underneath the victim. It takes a little coordination, but the combined rotational forces work together to get the victim into a high oxygen environment. Singularly pulling or pushing is not as efficient or effective as combining the forces. But if they are rescued, that is what is important.

In my very limited view “hand of god” is another tool for the toolbox. My friend Dave told about some young athletic safety boaters that worked at a river school in Chile. He claimed they would have you flipped back over in the middle of a rapid before you even had a chance to set up for a roll.

My own HOG experience is only with practice on slow moving water, in a pool, or in an eddy. Depending on the design of the ww boat and size of the paddler, it can be difficult to flip some folks upright. It helps if the victim is leaning forward close to the boat. If the shape of the boat near the cockpit is easy to get a hold of, that makes it easier to flip. Having someone in another boat holding onto my rescue boat was the only way I could get some bigger folks up and sometimes I had to yank on the vest (pfd) rather than the boat. Hand of God is a good “trust activity” and something I definitely need to practice. At 221 lbs, being a bit top heavy, I’m the guy nobody wants to have as a victim to flip upright.

I do know of a time where it saved an unconscious person. A famed squirt boater was leading a squirt clinic at double Z rapid (New River) and was “hand of godded” by one of the participants when he became unconscious. There are probably a bunch of other times where it has worked that I’m just unaware of.

Of course the first rule of rescue is to not endanger yourself (exceed your capabilities). The odds of me being able to flip someone in the middle of rapid are pretty small (unlike the crew in Chile). In an eddy or at the bottom of a rapid I like to think I have at least a shot at it but I need to practice it some more. That’s where it’s at for me right now. No pool time (Covid closures) in over a year has me a bit rusty.

Separation of Paddling and Religion.

Sounds like many here are relying on brute force to do this rescue.

By either pulling the paddler in trouble to the back deck , or to the front deck and then pushing down on the kayak alongside the center of the cockpit…the kayak rotates with very little effort. no tugging on the combing etc.

The closer you are able to hold the person to either deck, the easier the kayak rotates. Sometimes it takes a little effort to reach all the way over the victims kayak and get a meaningful grip on the person…PFD shoulder strap is ideal.

Don’t just sit your kayak, shift all your weight to the victims kayak and drape yourself over it to facilitate the reach.

Very little force…pull person to their deck, and then push down on the victims kayak. Easy Peasy


Oops…sorry. I meant to just make a comment not reply directly to you. I do agree with what you said however.

All good

You see, I would do the same for someone else and didn’t need to be “told” by a higher power that it is the right thing to do. If you need religion to get there, so be it.

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I know you were being facetious, but changing the name of that roll might not be a bad idea, considering that many Inuit people consider that term derogatory and offensive. It’s along the lines of having a maneuver named with the n-word.

It’s not that the term is “now” offensive. It always was. That fact was just ignored by the English-speaking majority of Canada/USA.

And according to the news stories in October, you’ll be able to eat an Edy’s Pie soon.


IMO: The paddler won’t hear you sitting there, upside-down under the water, so no need to name what technique you are going to use to help him up. Just turn him upright and continue kayak lessons. In classroom, just use the name “help”: “If the paddler capsizes we help him up”.

I only wrote it being half way facetious. The world around us is always changing and as a kid I had text book talking about the Eskimo way of life and I loved when my dad would buy me an Eskimo pie at the market, and it didn’t happen very often. We rooted for ball teams with names like Red Skins and Indians. None of this was done with even the slightest thought of something being wrong about it. Words find a way into existence as a kid I was taught the proper term was Negro and as a young man that became offensive and the correct term was Black and as an older man I was told to use African American. At that time I thought someone of color might be offended if their roots were not in Africa, but I go with the flow.

My point was more if a person doesn’t feel comfortable saying Hand of God then don’t say it and if someone else is fine with it let them say it. The term God or god doesn’t imply you believe in a god or the God if you somehow think saying God rules out the others god.

I would assume as my belief that if I’m upside down locked in a boat in the water maybe knocked out and I’m saved by someone doing this rescue maneuver the “Hand of God” in this case is the Hand of Poseidon the Greek God of the Sea.

So my vote goes to changing the term to (Hand of Poseidon) with the fear of offending non Greeks.

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I struggle with the term “Hand of Poseidon” Because I’m not sure if Poseidon would pull you up or pull you down…Conundrum


Some Gods are that way. :canoe:


“Unresponsive paddler (e.g. “Hand of God”)” has already been added to ACA curriculum for Coastal Kayaking.

“Hand of Poseidon” might be better as “Rescue from Poseidon”

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You still haven’t given the name of your organization unless I just missed it. I don’t want to be around anyone that gets their feelings hurt over something that doesn’t mater.