Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

Canoe on Canoe Rescue

It has happened to the best of us. You’re wet, floating in a lake, your canoe is upside down, and you’re wondering what went wrong. Suddenly, you don’t care how this happened, you just want back on your boat because your paddles and gear are slowly bobbing up and down making their escape down the river – probably laughing at you.

Your first task at this point should be to determine your safety. Let your stuff go, you’ll go get it all later. If there’s no immediate need to swim to shore, get yourself back to your canoe. Whistle or call out to your dry friends in another canoe (it’s a good thing the group stayed together), and make sure everyone’s okay. Now you have two choices: You can either have the upturned canoe towed or swum back to shore, or you can try to right the canoe using a canoe on canoe rescue.

Let’s go over the steps and each person’s role to safely get you and your stuff back on the boat and on your way. We’ll assume you have two boats, the wet canoe that has been swamped with its two wet canoeists, along with the dry canoe with its two dry canoeists who are so far classy enough not to be laughing (they’ll be plenty of time for that later). If there is a third canoe, they can go and get the gear floating downstream, if it’s practical to do so while staying together as a group.

As with many safety procedures, the best way to ensure they can be done properly when needed is to practice. A good routine would be to practice some the first day of your trip before you set off, that way everyone knows how to do it. Alternatively, it’s a great way to get wet on a break on a hot day.





Below we have included a video we found on YouTube.com made by the London Area Scouters. You can skip to the 1:59 mark where they get started:

  • For more information on canoe rescues check out my article on “Cold water and hyopthermia safety” this also includes a section on canoe rescue in both the lake and river situation.
    Great video!

  • Good video with one exception. As someone who has conducted many rescues, some in 6′ waves and white water, it never goes that smoothly. There are always challenges. There was also no gear that needed to be gathered. I have found in many cases, the 2 people in the dry canoe can empty the canoe in a very short time frame without the 2 wet paddlers on the dry canoe. As long as no first aid is necessary, they should be gathering the gear!
    Overall good clip!

  • Get the latest updates
    Preston and Nancy the dog pose with a Paddle in the Park Contest paddle
    Keep up to date
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.