Solo Canoe re-entry, the sequel

-- Last Updated: May-31-05 8:07 AM EST --

This topic has been around the block a couple of times. But, I wanted to share something I discovered last night.

I was playing around in my bagged Supernova solo canoe on a small lake. I tried re-entry from over the side and couldn't do it this year either.

While I was resting in the water, I turned around so that my back was against the gunnel. I reached behind me and pulled the gunnel down and under my but. I was sitting in the chine with the gunnel under my legs. I was sitting in the canoe like you would sit in the middle of a sofa. Then, I threw both my arms around the upper gunnel (or headrest of the sofa). Picture a guy on a first date stretching both arms over the back of the sofa. Then, I simply leaned back and the canoe gently righted itself. Now I was sitting in an upright canoe with my arms and legs splayed over the gunnels. My but was dead center in the bilge. Then I rotated on my but to turn so I was facing forward. Once facing the correct way, (still sitting in the bilge), I could bale or splash the water out. Or, I could slide up on the seat and then get the water out (much tippier though).

I did this 10 times in a half an hour. It is so easy it is amazing. The level of effort is about as much as climbing a six foot step-ladder. Your center of gravity is in the bottom of the boat until you choose to slide it up on the seat.

Last year I was convinced I would never even waste an ounce of energy trying to re-enter that canoe in a real situation. Funny what you can learn by accident.

Please note, this canoe had fully inflated 60 inch air bags. Your mileage may vary.

Most us would not be here if not for an

accident! ;^)

Yes, you can learn and accomplish the darnest things by accident. Another way is laziness. Both are surprisingly good teachers! ;^)

Thanks for sharing Clarion.

Happy Paddl’n!



Paddle float rescue
You can also do a paddle float rescue in a canoe. Or if you want to try something really easy do an or float reascue and bungee the oar to the center float to hold it steady. If you have oarlocks on you canoe the oarlock can hold it steady.

I think all canoes and kayaks should have with float bags when used in rough or cold water.

That method makes so much sense it’s scary it hasn’t been mentioned before.

Great technique!
My technique was always the one taught by Red Cross / Boy Scouts etc, and it results in being nose-to the bilge if successful. I like your method much better.

Didn’t someone recently ask if added flotation was REALLY necessary?


Thanks mucho…
…although I haven’t tipped my Vagabond (yet), I’ve done so in a Sandpiper, but the water was comfy and the shore was close. I am going to remember your technique-may we name it the Clarion Clamber?

Im have to try this when the water
warms up.

This is Exciting

– Last Updated: May-30-05 5:40 PM EST –

Clarion, I hope to get out to the lake this week or next, and will work with your technique. It will be interesting to see what kind of effect various amounts of floatation will have.

Let's all report in with our results when we get to try this out.


how about "the recliner"
As odd as it sounds, there is no clamor or struggle whatsoever.

Actually, this method is one that is
taught by our ACA instructors who do WW. However, it’s reserved for specific situations. Sufficient flotation is necessary. If the gunwales stay underwater, there’s not much you can do.

Usually if you dump in WW, you head for a shallow spot or bank, but sometimes there’s no easy place to re-enter and bail. In moving water, avoiding pinning and entrapment is critical, so this method has to be done the right way in the right place, quickly. Pools or eddies are the prefered location on a river. This technique would be particularly useful on a lake or open water. Thanks for posting it.

Thanks for the feedback

– Last Updated: May-31-05 11:54 AM EST –

When I get the chance, I will try it in a bagged Yellowstone Solo. Like you said, if the gunnels aren't out of the water, forget it. I probably had a good three inches of freeboard out of the water with the 60" bagged Supernova. The Yellostone solo starts out with lower sides to begin with but I think it will work.