Rescue of SINK from a SOT

I have joined a water rescue team and have been asked to put on kayak training. Much of it will focus on basic paddle skills, but will also delve into rescues. The team’s kayaks are sit on tops, with which I have limited experience.

What are the best techniques to put other kayakers back in their emptied boats when the rescuer is paddling a sit on top? Given our purpose, seems a good idea to have pumps on the SOTs for use in emptying other boats. Any other resources you would recommend specific to sot rescue skills?

Thanks - Jamie

Check this website

One significant error
The pics show the rescuer lifting the bow of the boat over their head, which is not only unnecessary, it’s dangerous. All you need to do is lift it high enough for the coaming to break contact with the water, which is no more than shoulder height.

Thanks to both
exactly what I was looking for. I was wondering about that high lift as well, especially without a deck to cushion the blow if you lost your grip.

Topkayaker Is a Great Site!
Lots of great information there

some minor points to add…
I find it helps to first have the swimmer flip their boat back upright before the proper T rescue starts. Then the rescuer can gently lean his boat toward the victim’s and slide the bow (partly on its side) in front of them then flip it back upside down in one smooth motion. Pulling up an inverted kayak can be hard due to boat shape and the suction formed on the cockpit.

When I have a victim climb in (be sure they wait until you are stable over their boat) I ask them to go over their boat AND REACH FOR MY BOAT. This first encourages a flatter body position on top of the water and avoids much of the torque some victims can place on their kayak which makes your holding it stable harder.

ALso look at the X-Rescue
for recreational kayaks which have no rear bulkhead/float bags. Also consider carrying a small poly strap for making a sling. If the victim is cold or has limited upper body strength, a sling can help.

A good SOT is hard to beat for rescuing folks.


I love Tom’s site but…
I never pull the boat high at all. Jusy enough to drag the cockpit upbove the water line. The boats weight rests entirely on my deck. Of course I have done this with my sturdy plastic boats not with my flimsy decked kevlar boat.

There is not way I’m going to be able to lift a boat like in the picture. SO if I’m in the delicate Sink I think I’ll just hand you my pump for a while, then help you in the boat.

There are several dangers

– Last Updated: Apr-13-10 10:24 AM EST –

Raising a boat that high puts you at risk of a shoulder injury or of dropping the boat on your head, not to mention the damage it could do to your boat if you dropped it in front of or behind you. When lifting a boat, never go any higher than necessary to break the seal with the water and always try to keep a hand between your body or face and the boat.

Also, when lifting the boat, the best way is to lean hard onto it, slide your gunwale/coaming under the tip, then lean toward the off-side and use your boat to lever the other one up while pulling the bow to your off-side gunwale (don't pull it any farther than that). Draining it quickly (you don't need to remove every drop), flipping it and getting it back on the water ASAP is key to doing this safely on rough water. A boat across your deck is a dangerous thing.

Another thing that helps…
…is to tell them to kick their legs to the surface and pull themselves across the deck.