Self-rescue in a canoe???

I own a sit-on-top kayak and doing a self-rescue re-entry into the SOT kayak is not a problem if I flip it over.

I am about to get a canoe to use for crabbing and want to know if anyone knows of any links with pictures describing how to do a self-rescue in a canoe. I did some searching and all I could find was “swim your canoe back to shore”. I was thinking maybe you could do a self-rescue similar to a sit-in-side kayak if you have a paddle float. But i’m not sure if this is possible because I’m guessing a canoe will have more freeboard than a sit-on-top kayak. What do you guys think? What’s the best way to do a self-rescue in a canoe if you capsize?

Leave the canoe and

– Last Updated: Jun-01-07 4:01 PM EST –

swim to shore and go buy a kayak.

for all practical purposes
… it’s not likely to be done. You hit the nail on the head with the higher sides/freeboard compared to your SOT.

Join the Boy Scouts
get the canoing merit badge handbook.

But once you are swamped you are swamped.

You need another boat to do a T-rescue in deep water.

You are going to get those who say …

– Last Updated: Jun-01-07 7:13 PM EST –

you can and those who say you can't.
I say that if you have a normal weight canoe, (noting ultralight), and you are the normal average paddler it can't be done.
I have heard all the stuff about how the boy scouts were taught, but every time I say show me for some strange reason (!) after several tries, they semed to have forgotten the method.
I can tred water with the best of them, but there is no way I can do it with my thirty nine pound 17 foot Jensen.


Can and Can’t be done
You’ll hear stories and descriptions from people who say they do it or have done it, but if water conditions are such that a capsize is possible, you won’t be doing a self-recovery unless your boat has float bags. For a capsize in calm conditions, SOME people can do it in SOME boats, but how often does one capsize when the water is calm? I’m sure it happens now and then, but the only case I know of was someone who’s seat broke loose and sent them tumbling. If you are pulling up a crab trap and end up tipping the boat too far, my guess is you will just drop the trap and recover your balance, rather than letting yourself continue to fall over.

Sorry, but canoes really aren’t the boat of choice if the need for self-recovery is expected. If this is a problem, maybe someday a larger boat would be the way to go, like a dory.

I know this won’t help the original poster. But I found it ironic there’re all these strict insurance restriction on kayak rental outfits. A craft that can be re-entered with minimum training.

Yet just about anybody’s mother can rent a canoe to go whereever she wants. And even the best canoeist say they don’t have a chance of recovery if they flip!

I have done it
Oddly enough, the first time was part my Canoe Merit Badge in Scouts.

First step remove most of the water from the canoe by pushing down and forward on the stern. Be careful. If there’s a wind you risk loosing the canoe. After a few repetitions, the boat will float high if not quite dry.

Reentry is a swift scissors kick while pulling yourself across the boat. You want to get some of your weight to the opposite gunwale or you’ll capsize all over again. Drop your butt into the boat. Then keeping your center of gravity low, work your way to the paddling position. I did this with both my glass 16’ Mowhawk and the venerable Grummen 17’ aluminum.

I haven’t tried any of this since saying goodbye to my twenties. I weighed 195 then, so I was neither skinny nor exceptionally athletic. I stick to my kayak now.

Pole float rescue
Do it just like a paddle float rescue. It’s ever easier if to use an oar float recue if the water is warm. To get the water out you need to do the push method and then use a bailer.

Honestly it is all a lot easier with float bags. Without float bags it is really hard in calm warm water. As canoe is usually used near shore and calm water, if that is not your usage then you really need to tie in the float bags.

Paddle Float
The last Pakboat Newsletter has a piece on using a paddle float to self-rescue with a canoe. I’ve already deleted it, but it sounded like an interesting idea (I wish I remembered better, but I think it required carrying a double-bladed paddle).

Boy Scouts…we did it…
I did the canoeing merit badge (ahem…35 years ago) and remember climbing in and out of canoes, swamping them, turning them upside down and yelling at each other from inside(great echo!), ramming each other and climbing back in, and all manner of abuse. I’ve got a 19’ Grumman aluminum canoe I’ve scuba dived from for years, which means climbing in and out, tank and BC stay in the water and come in later. So, I say it can be done but depends on the boat, and maybe a little practice. The Grumman is wide enough it doesn’t tip much. When swamped, it doesn’t ship all that much water when righted and a bailer dries it out pretty quick. My bailer for both yak and canoe is a 2 liter Gatorade jug with the bottom cut out.

much, much easier with two people

– Last Updated: Jun-01-07 4:49 PM EST –

Opposite sides and work together. One flops in, then the other.

i can do it in my rob roy
it’s decked though, and that’s with float bags.

18 Feet of WC Guide
A lot depends on the canoe. I practice with my 18 ft wood and canvas Guide in warm weather. Doesn’t hurt to practice now does it?

I find I can dump most of the water by lifting the canoe overhead - of course I’m wearing my PFD too. Then it is a simple matter of reaching to the far gunnel and pulling myself in. You can pretty much stand on the gunnel of this canoe and not tip though too.

This guy has it figured out.

btw… That is coyoteequip (aka Jarvis) from pnet on the Mulberry river in NW ARK.

I have the coolest friends :slight_smile:


with paddle float
I’ve self-rescued in a solo canoe (composite WildFire) using a paddle float on a calm day. The paddle was a 56- or 58-inch straight-shaft; I’m not sure I could do it with my 52-inch bent-shaft. I lashed the grip end to the thwart on the far side of the boat so I didn’t have to dedicate a hand to keeping the paddle connected to the rails. (I’ve also done it without the lashing, but it’s harder on the hands and the paddle, which tends to slip around against the rail.)

With the paddle float, I could keep the near rail low without reswamping, so the greater freeboard of a canoe versus a kayak wasn’t a big issue, and re-entry wasn’t as hard as I was expecting. Also because of the paddle float, I could stay balanced while I pumped the rest of the water out.

I’ve never tried it in realistic conditions. I’d be surprised if I could do it. On the other hand, the only time I’ve capsized recently was on a perfectly calm day, due to pure stupidity, so the technique is not without applications. I’d have to be non-stupid enough to have the paddle float and a bilge pump with me, though.

– Mark

Bring some friends along to help
With someone to help empty the boat and brace the far side during re-entry, its fairly easy.

I’ve tried, but I can’t do it alone - at least not in my Yellowstone.

First post in 100 years!
Thought I’d give my $.02 for the first time in a while.

I’ve done it as of last summer in a bag equipped Solo+. Maybe different for other folk, but I gotta go in over the stern or bow, instead of the side. Your getting into a mostly swamped boat and once you’re in, balance is precarious at best! If you don’t have a big bailer with you, there isn’t much point in doing it. If you’re on a big lake, in bad conditions, it probably won’t get done.

I did it regularly in a MR Slipper with a 29" beam, but only with a paddle float lashed to a thwart. Still dicey when swamped and ain’t gonna happen when you’d need to the most.

OK, flame me now, so I can go back into seclusion and enjoy being the crabby, old recluse I am.

yea Jo, you’re a crab allright

– Last Updated: Jun-02-07 10:16 AM EST –

This kind:

Good to see you here again.

See little risk of swamping or flipping
in any circumstances where self-rescue woudl be relevant. That is, it would apply only out on a lake, and if that lake were rough enough to swamp or flip me/us, I don’t see how getting the boat upright, partly bailed, then re-entering, and finally pumping it out would be a useful course. I try not to get me/us out on lakes in such conditions.

That said, if I wanted to have the capability, say, in our 17’ Bluewater, I would install long 2" minicell slabs along both sides, so that the minicell could lift the boat and help water escape as the water dumps out. I would have some sort of re-entry assistance foot strap. I would also have invested in one or two of those light lithium-powered pumps popular with the WW crowd.