Rescues - what can be done to speed things up ?

(we all know what the fastest optimal is: Reentry and roll - but if this is not an option for you, you may find these lines interesting)

Due to an upcoming cold-water course, it is highly relevant for me to fine-tune my standard deep-sea rescue. Having thoughts like Seakayaking Cornwall, that a casualty not necessary is a victim, I and Katrina, headed for the beach this sunny Wednesday, to test out some ideas about what oneself can do to minimize the time in the (cold) water. The result was quite impressive I think.!

Bail out of your 'vessel'.

  1. Yell for you buddy.
  2. Make your way to the bow, by pulling the boat by its lines.
  3. Empty the boat.
  4. Make your way aft. Again, you do not swim, you pull the boat. Fast.!
  5. Straddle up on the rear deck, to a stable position behind the cockpit.
 The paddle can either be secured under the bungees (takes some time), or be used for support all the way.

Time spent, less than 45sec to get 80% of your body out of the water..!!
(by this time there is a fair chance that your buddy is ready to support your kayak)


In the roughest conditions you might want to stay at your bow, but anyway, always empty your boat and turn it upright. I know from experience that one can climb the rear-deck in quite rough conditions - the tricky part may be to get your bum into 'the pit'. But your safe position behind the cockpit is a fine dry place to wait for your buddy, stabilizing your kayak for the last bit: Get you into the seat, emptying (if needed), sprayskirt....

In more gentle conditions you might as well complete this ladder/cowboy rescue yourself, all the way, into the cockpit. Still, it may be handy with a buddy to stabilize during pumping, sprayskirt, etc...

From this it looks like 'we' should teach our student to be much more active under a 'swim' - right from day one. Being able to do as much as possible of the rescue yourself, only makes it all so much faster.

Few, but very important things, should be avoided, that it significant can slow down an actual rescue:
  1. Rescuer gets the rear end of the boat
  2. Boat is still up side down
  3. (A lot of) water in the boat

Three things, I believe, that are the swimmers responsibility to sort out, before the rescuer appears on the scene..!!