Paddling: What Happens If I Flip?

By Paul Kuthe.

Paddlers often say that we’re all “between swims.” Flipping is always a possibility, and if you end up in the water paddlers call that swimming. There are many ways to get back in a kayak. With practice, you can do some of these on your own, and some require the help of a buddy. We’re going to quickly demonstrate a few different methods for getting back into a kayak.

If you’re paddling a sit-on-top this video may be sufficient. But to master some of the more advanced techniques, especially for sit-inside kayaks, getting some professional instruction is a great idea.

Getting back on a sit-on-top kayak is the simplest situation. First, be sure your kayak floating right side up. If it’s not, turn it over by pushing on one side and pulling on the other. Next, if you’re paddling with a buddy ask them to stabilize your boat. Even if your friend isn’t right there, don’t worry. You should still be able to climb back aboard your kayak by yourself, especially if you’ve practiced the technique before.

Swim to the back of you kayak and pull your chest on top of the boat. It helps to start with your legs behind you at the surface, then kick with your legs as if you’re getting out of a swimming pool. Slide your body toward the cockpit by pulling yourself towards it with your arms while staying low and allowing your legs to hang off either side for stability. Once you reach the cockpit, sit up straddling the boat and swing your legs through the water until you can sit low in the seat and pull your feet on top. Grab your paddle, and you’re ready to go.