Unconscious and upside down - now what?

Push down on the side of the coaming…

– Last Updated: Aug-31-05 12:38 PM EST –

... is the crucial trick, or on the edge of the hull. That rolls the boat under the victim, past the stability point and makes it pop the rest of the way on its own. The hull works in much the same way it does in a regular roll when you get past the stability angle.

I also find that it's best to push down toward the ~back~ of the side of the coaming, because that's where the center of buoyancy tends to be if you have pressed the victim's torso onto the back deck, which you should have. I have seen difficulty when pushing more toward the front, and I believe that is because you are yawing the victim's boat quite a bit in addition to pushing it down.

When you do get it, it will be almost effortless, something that even a lightweight person can do with a heavy victim. Just make sure to hike out and commit your own body weight to the downward push on the coaming.


Scoop rescue too
Let’s not forget that the scoop rescue is almost the same, and also useful, though not designed for such dire circumstances as an unconscious paddler still in the cockpit.

In the scoop, the paddler is swimming but injured or otherwise unable to perform a scrambling type assisted reentry.

Get bow to bow and set the victim’s boat on edge – yes, full of water – cockpit away from you. Have the victim crawl into the cockpit from the side, feet first, then butt down in the seat as far as possible, ideally touching it. Lean out over their boat to help if you can.

From then on, it’s the same as the HOG – pull the rescuee by the pfd flat onto the back deck; hike your body out over their boat; push down on the side of the coaming with your weight; and pop comes the boat.

Of course, then you have to pump out the cockpit, but c’est l’eau.


Mixture of both
Of course if you have a small rescuer working to right a heavy victim the victim’s spray deck can be release to make it even easier to right their boat.

Note that it’s easier for most people to right the other boat when the boats are set bow to stern. Try it both ways to see if one is significantly beter than the other.


bow to stern ?

– Last Updated: Aug-31-05 6:40 PM EST –

> Note that it's easier for most people to right the other boat when the boats are set bow to stern.

Interesting. I never tried that. But what changes with that?

I wonder if it relates to my observation that pushing on the back part of the side coaming is better than the middle or front. I have tried that, and it works. So, maybe when you are bow-to-stern, it's natural to press on the back of the side of the rescuee's coaming, but if you are bow to bow, you tend to go for the front. In either case, you are going for the front relative to you, the rescuer.

[start mecahnics/geek speak] The back-of-coaming-side pressure point works, I think, because the center of buoyancy moves backwards when you hold the rescuee's torso on the back deck. If you press the coaming/edge too far forward from that center of buoyancy, a lot of the downward energy will veer into a yawing force around the buoyancy center rather than a rolling force around the longitudinal axis of the boat. Or, less geekily, you're somewhat pushing the bow down into the water rather than uniformly pushing the whole boat at once. And that means it won't help as much to roll the boat.[end mechanics/geek speak]

Make any sense?


works better , for me, Bow to Bow. That way it seems easier to pull them onto their own back deck (as you push on the side of their cockpit with your other hand. most boats seem to roll themselves if you can get the person in a low center of gravity position and the back deck is easier to pull them back on while also pulling up. The boat just spinns if everything is just right. also very usefull to know for teaching or assisting with rolling practice. method can easially be practiced first while standing waist deep in the water next to someone in a upside down boat. after you figure out the mechanics of the push down / pull up then get in your boat and practice leanning on their boat /and properly transfering your weight in an effective manner.

this is a must practice thing , just like rolling is…some of the same methods are used for the scoop…rolling a boat is realitively simple (yours or theirs) once you figure out the timming and the shifting of weights involved.

Scoop Rescue, Similarity
I’ve practiced the scoop rescue some, and actually found the biggest problem was that the rescuee was so busy laughing that he wouldn’t keep his head down. Between that and his outweighing me by about 45 pounds it took some muscle to get him up. Had it been someone who was actually prone it probably would have gone fairly easily.

So the HOG rescue sounds very similar, except that the victim has to be reached while hanging upside down or maybe shifted off a bit to the wrong side. If that holds, then yeah, someone my size has to commit to dropping weight onto the other boat to get it started down. I can see that getting them onto the back deck would make it easier.

As to bow to bow or bow to stern, it seems it’d be a surer hold for me to get the victim pulled onto their back deck by reaching over the usually lower rear portion of the cockpit/deck than having to come over anywhere more forward. Especially if it was a really high forward deck. Without actually trying it, seems that bow to stern places you there more naturally.

The HOG is not “taught” in any BCU star training, although it is expected to be polished for a 5* assessment.

It is part of the syllabus of the BCU CST- Canoe Safety Test. This is a one day,very intensive course in current practices for rescue techniques and strategies. Along with the variant, the scoop. And recently brought up in another thread, the heel hook.

Great course, and becuase it is frequently under peer review and is updated, worth taking every few years.

There is even talk about changing the name! Too many folk have diffuculty with “canoe” as a general classification.


Now I get it. I heard about the Canoe Safety course and it makes sense that this should be covered there. I am hoping to take this course in the next season or two. The reports about the one that is run by Atlantic Kayak Tours are excellent.


i imagined it? did we meet during my 4 star training or assessment? apparently not cause we didn’t have similar experience.

just cause it didn’t happen in yours and did happen in mine doesn’t mean that either of us is right, huh? point being, the rescue is taught at some point along the BCU path and i suspect the ACA as well.

bow to stern placement?
when I am bow to bow with the other persons boat on my right. I lean over their boat and reach with my right hand, for as far down as I can reach. Their PFD somewhere works fine, the shoulder strap if you can get it is best. I grab with my right hand and pull them toward the back of their boat at the same time as I push down alongside their cockpit with my left hand. This leaves me and them in about the same position as a assisted tow for an injured or sick paddler. Right hand and arm toward their back deck and both boats ready for a tow by a 3rd paddler.

Yes, size disparity is a serious issue

– Last Updated: Sep-01-05 9:06 AM EST –

As someone that likes to paddle narrow, low volume kayaks, I can personally attest to the fact that performing a HOG rescue on someone in a tall, wide boat can be a real problem. Despite having long arms, I've found that when you sit low in the water, it can be nearly impossible to "climb over" a wide boat in order to grab hold of the paddler. You can't effectively push down on the gunwale of a boat that's around or above shoulder height. A large paddler complicates the issue even more. In some cases, it simply can't be done. For that reason, I consider the HOG rescue to be a useful skill to have, but not one I'd want to rely on.

BTW, if/when you do get the paddler back up, you'd better have a means of calling for help, as you're gonna' need it if they unconscious!

what Karl said
The BCU- Canoe Safety test.

We teach it in our Rescue & Recovery course (a softer version of the CST) and definitely in the ACA Instructor Development Workshops and Exams.

Yes it is a challenging skill to own. but…if you work on it and figure out the balance/leverage points, it can be mastered.

One of the things that makes for positive learning is a willing vic with a noseplug and the ability to hold their breath! This allows the rescuer time to figure it out. In real life (hopefully) they will be practiced and make this happen quickly!

With some time and work we have seen small people in narrow boats right larger people in wide boats. tho it IS a challenge!


Helmets are cool and wonderful and have saved my life while kayaking on at least one or 2 occasions. Do a rough surf launch and it easy to really cut your scalp while under the boat. Old ww or hockey helmets have super ventilation and keep your visor and sunglasses on if you roll or swim and I hate having my hat blow off. The 70 miler has some severe ww drops for a narrow boat and of course I wore a helmet. 3 years at blackburn I wore a helmet because suppose you try a roll because you hit a rock 100 yds from shore and while under the boat your head hits another rock. Without a helmet you are bleeding and dazed and sharks are heading your way… Or how about a rough surf launch at any beach… I love my helmet and you never know when your next swim or low branch will get you. A helmet is because the er can be at least an hour away…

we use 'em alot. even in a R&R course and definitely in the gorge wind. anything over 15 knots and we wear 'em.

funny thing a couple years ago we did out trip/tour catalog and low and behold AFTER we went to print we realized that all but 2 of the sea kayaking photos were w/ helmets!

sea kayak ~ helmets ??? some folks don’t see the connection?



The HOG is not in the syllabus of 4*. There is always some leeway in what any individual instructor wants to include outside the syllabus, but there is always a danger to that, as in, if the candidate did not do well in the outside syllabus stuff, they should not be failed.

One of the reasons why the BCU is wary of the mentorship concept, and encourages seeking instruction from multiple sources.

I have not seen the HOG required in any of the 4* assessments I had to sit in on my way to Assessor status (I am a BCU level 4 sea coach, and CST assessor), but I do not doubt that somewhere, somone is, and I do not have a problem with that (keeping in mind that an assessor should beware of outside syllabus content).


Steve Maynard demoed a scoop…

– Last Updated: Sep-01-05 7:04 PM EST –

... in 4-star training in June. In fact, I got volunteered for the non-speaking part while Steve talked it through for the group. Luckily, I had a very cooperative "victim", not too large, and he just popped right up.


That’s How I Sleep
and how my significant other shows her love…


bad, i know…

Helmet for practice
I keep my helmet with me for practice these days, at least if practicing alone and it went to the ocean as well. Once when I went over for a roll in my favorite pond, the wind had blown me a little further than anticipated and my shoulder felt a rock. Not a hard landing, but enough to get the helmet out if it seems that it’s a low tide or low water situation even in calm water.

his is where torquing down on the
cockpit rim becomes more important than being able to grab the persons PFD. But if the boat is fairly wide all you have to get a hold of is the side of the cockpit rim near you before pushing down with both hands. Then once the victim’s torso floats near the surface you grab the pfd. Some people forget about the pushing down and just grab on the pfd as soon as they see it, but it’s just like rolling, you have to get the other persons kayak almost all the way upright before getting their torso on the back deck. I’d suggest trying it this way. I’ve been able to perform the hand of god on victims twice my size in very big plastic touring kayaks while in a low volume sea kayak.

seems pretty vague…think it just says perform rescue or some such thing.

i understand what your saying about exceeding or varying though…then what does the coach/assesor do? i just started down the coach path and so this will be a similar issue.

there is i think, variation from assesor/assesor and coach/coach in the breadth of what is taught and then hopefully the assessed material and standards are “fairly” (and boy howdy AIN’T that a dangerous and vague word?!) assessed…when any of us makes a statement here it relates our own experiences and so naturally, that may not be chapter and verse from any particular syllabus.