Practiced sinking

So we’ve had a canoe almost a year now. It was hot, we decided it was a good time to practice tipping, righting, and re-entering. At the in-laws cabin, so with FIL’s moose hunting canoe.

We fell in-check!

We turned the canoe right way up-hmmm that’s a lot of water still in it…

We did not remember a bailer -oops

And we totally failed to get back into the boat without putting it entirely under the surface.

Teenager was circling in the kayak laughing her ass off. Oddly enough this did not help.

We learned that our flipping technique could use some improvement. The new pfd needs a bit of tightening. And we’re not teenagers anymore and it’s a lot harder to get back in the damn thing!

But the swim was really pleasant with the weather. Illinois is plenty hot, so there should be other opportunities to practice.


Most canoes have only just enough inherent buoyancy to keep from sinking out of sight. If turned right side up, most will have only the stems sticking above water with most of the gunwales on both sides submerged. Unless you have a mechanism by which to empty the water, you cannot possibly just get back in the boat and paddle.

With a lighter boat you might have success with the Capistrano flip. Or I suppose you could try the “splash out” method. If you get it to work, tell me how you did it.

If rescue boat is available you can do a boat-over-boat rescue or a side-to-side curl rescue. But your experience is basically why whitewater boaters all put supplemental flotation in their boats.

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Yeah we tried to do the Capistrano. We got about half the water out, but getting back in it filled back up :joy:

We mostly go out just one boat, the rescue boat method seems a lot easier (and it’s what the kid is solid at). The getting back in is still gonna be a challenge.

Bravo! I wish more would do as you did. Kids are so enamored of capsizing and for adults it is a mental block often. Kudos!
I wish it was warm enough to do that half roll here. Its been cool and today just plain cold 47 degrees for a high… I know the water must be about 55 and we have a swim ladder on the dock but still have not been in. We have not had anything above 75 air temp since 2021. It was snowing in the nearby mountains…sigh.

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Practice floating.
Understanding capsizing and how to overcome it is the first step in becoming a competent paddler.


Thanks! it was hard to tip on purpose, but I’m glad we did it. Even expecting to go in my brain kinda went bzzzt fail

It’s been heat index over 100 for almost a week. It was really nice to be in the water.

I second the Bravo. Intentionally capsizing can be fun, and teaches a lot you would not know otherwise.


Great that you did that! When our local group was doing ad hoc rescue practice sessions, we found that stinking hot weather was our best friend.

Unless I were to insert major float bags, I can only re-enter my ultralight as a submarine, My upper torso is sticking out of the water but the rest of me is under with the boat. As you found they don’t go anywhere that way. So it limits my range of use because I don’t want to add the poundage for the float bags. Which is fine, some nice restful paddling to be found that way.

Glad you had fun!

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I took a swim last week, and found my PFD looser than it should be now that the dry suit and insulation are no longer needed – don’t forget to snug it up for the summer. A loose PFD will keep you afloat, but if you need to do any swimming you really need to snug it up

My local club does a flatwater training with assisted rescues each year. We’ll be doing it next week after a couple-year hiatus due to COVID. We try to get everyone to do a boat over boat rescue – good practice for members who rarely do them, and leaders who will be assisting if it is ever needed on trip.

With my solo canoe I can run though a T-rescue pretty quickly and get back in the boat. It is easy as long as I have someone holding the far gunwale to keep the boat from swamping as I re-enter. Alone I can do the Capistrano flip to get the boat upright and empty, but I can’t re-enter without swamping the boat again.

This year we have a couple of people interested in trying unassisted rescues in tandem canoe (including me). I think it will be tougher to get the big boat empty, but easier to get back in since there are two people to balance the boat as you renter? We’ll see.

Always good to practice.

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A couple of things I intend to try this year. Tie my gear bag to the thwart of a canoe. Then it can be used as a counterweight hanging over the gunnel on the opposite side of the boat. The other is a paddle float on the side you renter on. Perhaps at the same time. Just thinking outside of the boat so to speak. :thinking: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

PS Always have something to bail with in your canoe.


Side air bags or sponsons can be of great help. If you mostly paddle on open water sponsons might be the best for you.

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I’ve seen you do those 180s more than once. I have also so that’s why I paddle SOT. Only 90s needed.

I envy the folks on paddle boards - nothing easier than that.

I did a two person reentry in a canoe at least once, fitst time was with my husband. He had 50 or so pounds on me.

It was shockingly easy. I got in with his holding one side of the canoe. Then he got in while edged over and sculled on the oppisite side of his entry

I should note that this was a fairly heavy old canoe, may have been more challenging with an un outfitted ultralight.

Did variations of this later with canoes that had good float bags. Super easy.