Self rescue

I’m new to kayaking… Almost all of my paddling has been in lakes. I’ve seen many videos on how to do a self rescue in a SOT kayak however, all of these videos have shown how to preform this in still water.

This weekend I found out the hard way that doing a self rescue in a river was totally different, at least for me. Fighting the current while trying to get back on your kayak is not the same as on a lake. If it weren’t for the people I was with, I hate to think what would have happened.

Are there any tips on how to get back in your kayak while in swift water?? Or what to do if you do dump while in a river?

Ver different on the river…
In open water, you often have no choice but to get back into your boat from the water. On a river it’s usually easier and safer to swim to shore, and get back into your boat from there. The trick is to get to shore with your boat, paddle and other gear. When swimming in a river you also need to be concerned about rocks, strainers and other obstacles that aren’t an issue in open water. Here are are few steps if you swim in a river:

  • Hold on to your paddle, and the boat if your can. If you are paddling with others they will usually grab your boat, but paddles have a way of disappearing if you don’t hold on to them.

  • Get to the upstream side of your boat - you don’t want to get pinned in the current between a rock and the boat.

  • Assume the safe swimming position - on your back with your feet near the surface and pointed downstream. This allows you to see rocks and other obstructions and use your feet to bounce off them.

  • Don’t stand up until your butt hits the ground - especially in strong current where foot entrappment is a significant hazard.

  • If you are getting swept into a strainer (tree in the river) flip over to your stomack with your head downstream so you can pull yourself up on to the strainer rather than getting swept under it. You never want to swim under a strainer.

  • When the opportunity allows, swim aggressively toward the shore. If you can push the boat or hold on to the painter line, that’s great. If not, get yourself to shore and worry about the boat later.

    For most people paddling quickwater rivers, strainers will be the main concern - never swim under a strainer. If you are going to be paddling whitewater, a swiftwater safety class is a must.

Unless it is a very wide river,…
I would swim it to shore.

That would be easier and quicker then a self rescue.

What Eric says above is perfect.

I can only add if you are getting swept into a strainer reach as high as you can for high branches

jack L

you ferry and swim ferry and swim…

grab hull, position for a current ferry and swim the ferry.

SUPER ! an animation from Control

Was it a rated river?
As in class 2, 3, that kind of thing.

You might want to add a rule for your paddling, that you don’t do class 2 or higher without company. If it was a river that is usually not so challenging, see if there are gauges that you can check before deciding about paddling alone.

Practice, practice, practice. It gets
to be fun to practice self-rescue. It could almost be a sport of itself. In addition to all the great stuff already mentioned here, tie everything in. My personal preference it to swim to shore with paddle and safety line in hand, get knee deep, do the Capistrano Flip then re-enter. Great fun!

Use Thigh Straps
They’re easy to grab and pull yourself up with. When you capsize you almost always end up feet downstream. It’s a piece of cake to grab Rutherford while sliding in the water.

I introduced SOTs to the Salmon River in Idaho. I’ve capsized many times. I’ve gone over small falls. I’ve snapped a thighstrap making a hard turn.

With all the times I’ve ended in the water. It has taken only a few seconds to reenter. Usually I was still in the rapid.

When I first used a 14’ Perception Illusion nobody really gave much thought about how a boat like that would handle WE. I pretty much had to develop my own technique.

Here’s a top. Let the current do the work for you.

Mostly agree
If you can get yourself back on your SOT quickly, then go for it.

Straps would provide greater control, and maybe make it easier to get back in the boat. They are also an entrapment hazard, so they need to be set up properly to allow for safe exit. (I am an open boater, not a SOT kayaker, so I might just be paranoid on this point).

Letting the current work for you works to a point. It might carry you to a nice safe eddy. It also might pin you on a rock, sweep you intro a strainer, or dump you into nasty hole. Traditional wisdom in whitewater safety is to get out of the current as quickly as possible. In quickwater this might be less of an issue.

I’ve Never Found Thighstraps
To be an entrapment hazard.

What I found that I would naturally grab hold as I slid off.

I would suggest don’t freak out.

Please excuse a geezer’s problems with auto-correct.