Open Canoe Self Resuce

Canoe Self Rescue Technique – the Capistrano Flip

At a recent Advanced Water Endorsement course we looked at some self rescue techniques.  One method which can work well with practice with unloaded canoes is a version of the Capistrano Flip.  This technique has been adapted and can be seen here in this video.

Some things to note – the canoe has good buoyancy.  This makes all kinds of rescues so much easier.  I use my canoe pack as additional floatation by placing it under the canoe at one end.  The bag is leashed to the canoe.  When I flip the canoe I hold onto the painter and use the wind to help with the flip.  The wind was F5, and by flipping the canoe downwind the wind actually helps.  By holding onto the painter the canoe doesn’t get blown away from you when it’s flipped.  When climbing back in, come in from the upwind side.  This makes it easier to climb in.  If you use the downwind side the canoe blows over you and your legs tend to sink.

This is a skill, so with practice self rescue is possible in quite bad conditions.  Practice in a safe bay with an onshore wind and with some competent friends to help should back up be required.

For more information on canoe and kayak training courses in Northumberland and the North of England contact me on

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