A practice for success

July 18, 2006

As I was saying I keep failing at rolling. Well with a bit of research I found this at Mariner Kayaks

(NB ‘RESCUE FLOAT PLUS’ is their brand of paddle float)


The RESCUE FLOAT PLUS can be used by hand to lever yourself upright. If you can’t yet Eskimo roll try practicing this: Place the mostly inflated RESCUE FLOAT PLUS on the back deck under bungees or lines in such a way that you can easily pull it free with one hand when you are upside down in the cockpit after a capsize. Have the hook at the end of the shock cord clipped to something so if the RESCUE FLOAT PLUS slips from its attachment on deck or out of your grasp (in use) it can be easily retrieved. Once upside down with the float in your hand, press your back against the back deck (so you won’t have as much weight to lift). Reach as far out to the side as you can and try to pull the float down into the water while holding your paddle with the other hand as a counterbalance over and across the kayak to the other side. Not strong enough? Then try placing your other hand (with the paddle in it unless the paddle is securely tethered) on top of the float and push it down with that hand as you pull it down with the other. Make sure you right the kayak first by bending at the waist and lifting the cockpit rim with your lower knee or thigh, before lifting your torso from the water (some call this a hip snap). Remember to lie against the back deck throughout.

It has never taken anyone we have taught more than two tries to succeed. However if you’re not successful with this in a real capsize the inflated RESCUE FLOAT PLUS can still be used like a pillow to hold your head out of the water while you wait for assistance in your kayak (or while putting the float on to the paddle for more leverage in rolling back upright). It may seem difficult but, if your spraydeck is on, staying in the kayak like this can save a lot of tiring pumping or bailing later. Some kayakers that haven’t become proficient at the Eskimo roll store their RESCUE FLOAT PLUS inflated and easily available under a shock cord on the front or back deck so they can do a float roll if they capsize. The shock cord is tucked under the float and is hooked to something on the kayak to insure against its loss. The shock cord is long enough so it should not need to be detached to use the RESCUE FLOAT PLUS for any of the rescues described. The snap hook can be removed with one hand by gripping the snaphook between your thumb and two fingers and twisting your wrist inward to open the snap gate against the cord it is clipped to. Practice this a few times now so you can both fasten the snaphook and unfasten it with one hand.


Eskimo rolling is the best method of self-rescue and we believe kayakers should endeavor to become expert at it. The RESCUE FLOAT PLUS can aid in learning the Eskimo roll. However, because its round shape can’t sweep through the water as quickly as the paddle does in a real roll it is better to use a flat float attached to the paddle blade when learning to roll. If a flat float is not available, inflate only the upper side of the RESCUE FLOAT PLUS to leave the underside of the blade flat. With either, lie back on the back deck and reach out and back with the float on the blade. Swing the float forward, keeping the blade level with the water’s surface, in a wide arc. At the same time capsize towards the float as you continue to sweep the float forward until it touches the kayak. Next simply reverse the motion and right yourself. The capsize becomes the wind-up for the roll. You can learn the roll in small steps by going a bit further into the wind-up each time before reversing it and finishing the roll. Once you get the feel of rolling, speed up the sweep as you right yourself. Don’t forget to right the kayak by bending your waist and lifting with your lower knee before you try to lift your torso and finally your head out of the water while laying back on the rear deck. It helps to have an instructor help shape your roll until every thing looks right and is done quickly. Then remove the float and try to roll a few times. If you are unsuccessful use the float for more practice. The float allows you to practice success rather than failure [my emphasis].

This will be my next practice excercise. I want some of that success!

There are some good pictures of this here.


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