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How to recover a capsized kayak to the upright position?

File photo credit: Wikimedia commons

by Hevina Kaur

Now that you've mastered the right way to use a kayak paddle and how to stop a kayak and turn a kayak, it's time to learn something more advanced. Every seasoned kayaker will experience capsizing one day. It's an essential part of the experience, whether you do it on purpose or for fun, you have to try capsizing at least once to really complete your kayaking experience and to prepare yourself.

The easiest way to recover your kayak after capsizing is employing a technique called the Eskimo Roll. 

1. If your kayak is going to fully capsize, you will need to anticipate it. Before you’re completely submerged you need to bring your paddle parallel the kayak, rolling your wrist forward.

2. As the kayak is upside down, turn the paddle and reach out to grab the water, bringing your paddle up near the surface of the water. 

3. Use your hips to allow you to flip the kayak back upright. This is the most important part. Your arms are not the key part of allowing you to turn back up. They only help position the paddle. Your hips are the ones doing the work here. 

While you are underwater, you need to throw your hips to the right and to the left, almost as if you are wiggling in your seat. This is the momentum that is going to allow your kayak to turn back upright.

After this, you should have already recovered your capsized kayak. You need to practise this move a couple times before you can truly master it. It is essential to know this move when you’re out kayaking because you never know when you might capsize and you will need to put these skills to test. Safety is truly of utmost importance when you’re out at in the open sea. 

Falling out of your seat while capsizing

What happens if you fall out of your seat when you capsize though? That requires a different set of skills. 

1. Firstly, you will have to return your kayak into an upright position. Simply reach under your kayak and grab on to both sides of the cockpit rim to push it over and flip it upright.

2. Once your kayak is upright, you’ll have to reach across to the opposite side of it and simply pull your whole body up and onto the kayak, as if you were getting out of a swimming pool.

3. Now that you’re on the kayak again, you need to position yourself back into your sitting position by flipping your body over and sliding yourself back into your seat.

And there you have it, you now know how to get back onto your kayak once you’ve capsized whether be it while still in the kayak or if you fell out of the kayak.

At the end of the day, you need to be careful when you do this because waters can be rather unpredictable. Although recovering from a capsized kayak can be quite fun to practise, never ever do it without the supervision of your instructor. If you happen to accidentally capsize, make sure you keep calm because nothing will impede a kayak recovery more than someone who is panicking. 

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