Canoe Country Wilderness Canoeing
by © Lee Hegstrand


Canoe Rescue

If the canoe capsizes, stay with it (it floats!) and capture any floating items. Either stay in the swamped canoe and paddle it to shore or swim along side the craft and push it in. When you are able to touch bottom turn the canoe over and lift it out of the water. Exception: in icy water when help is not imminent, leave the canoe and swim to shore, if the shore is nearby (death can occur in 15 minutes in 32 degree water).

If the craft turtles too far from shore to make the occupants self rescue impractical then transfer the packs and paddles into a rescue canoe(s) and perform a canoe-to-canoe lift. The submerged canoe is turned “belly side up” and perpendicular to the rescue canoe, bow first. While a second rescue canoe (if there is one) hand attaches gunwale-to-gunwale (the gunwale is the top edge of the canoe) with the first rescue canoe for more stability, one former occupant, already in the water, pushes down on the submerged craft's stern as one strong person in the rescue craft lifts its bow and drags the waterlogged craft over the top of the two (preferably) locked together rescue canoes. After the water has drained from the rescued craft flip it and return it to the water. Again lock gunwale-to-gunwale with it and the rescue canoe. Assist the dunked paddlers reoccupation.

Because such mishaps can occur at any time always wear your life jacket while on the water and strap the packs in. Note that turtled canoes are extremely rare if you keep your weight low and in the center of the canoe and avoid high winds.

Entry > Discover Wilderness > Canoeing Information > Canoe Rescue



Paddle back Paddle Up