An Eskimo rescue is a method of righting a kayak, with assistance, when you're unable (or unwilling) to use other means, such as the Eskimo roll.

If you've lost your paddle, or it has snapped in half, or you never learned to roll to begin with, this skill can prevent wet exits, delays, and long or dangerous swims. When you find yourself upside down in your boat, and decide to attempt an Eskimo rescue, you should:

  • Curl up with your nose touching your sprayskirt. This protects your face, chest, and torso.
  • Bang loudly, with both hands, on the underside of your boat. This is the sign to your river companions that you'd like a little help.
  • Slide your hands back and forth along either side of the boat, looking for contact with another paddler's boat. (keeping them moving back and forth is a good way to make them harder to crush)
  • Another paddler will try to maneuver themselves to be perpendicular to your boat. When they are, they'll bump the bow of their boat into the side of yours, near your hands.
  • Find a handhold on their boat, such as their grabloop, and hold onto it
  • Bring the other hand over to the same side of the boat as the grabloop
  • Snap your hips, and bring your boat back upright
  • Recover your paddle and gear

You should practice this with others in a swimming pool first, obviously. You should travel and paddle with people you know and trust. You should also be grateful to anyone who helps you perform this move, since to some extent they've endangered themselves to help you. When you use their boat for support and balance, try not to flip them in the process :-)

A good hand roll is useful for this same kind of purpose, but may not be practical in heavily aerated, frothy water.

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