Rescuing a casualty who is unconscious and trapped upside down in a sea kayak or panicking upside down requires a specialised technique and lots of practice. What it does NOT require is ‘super-human’ strength but instead a particular technique referred to as the Hand of God rescue.

It is clear from the following two demonstrations from Jeff Allen and Paul Kuthe that good use of mechanics/leverage enables the rescue to be completed without excess force/strength being used and therefore a reduce risk of injury to the ‘rescuer’.

It is worth watching both demonstrations as each provides a little different information than the other, although the core principles are the same. It is then worth finding the time to have a wet session with another couple of paddlers to try the techniques demonstrated as with all techniques it takes time and practice to become confident and skill full in their use.

Hand of God Rescue: Jeff Allen


NB: Actual demonstration begins at 1:40

Hand of God Rescue: Paul Kuthe

Hand of God Rescue: Step by Step Process

The key points provided by Jeff Allen during his demonstration are summarised as:

  1. Push down on the casualties hull next to your kayak
  2. Pull up on furthest the edge of the casualties kayak
  3. Once the kayak rotates up onto it’s side hold the cockpit rim with both hands
  4. Close the gap between the kayaks
  5. Hold the cockpit rim with you arm furthest from the casualty
  6. Reach over with your arm closest to the casualty reach and grab the casualties PFD shoulder strap
  7. As you reach over allow the gap between the kayaks to open up by flexing your hips and dropping your inside edge
  8. Move the casualties boat down into the gap as it rotates fully upright
  9. Close the gap again to lock the two boats together
  10. Support the casualty and call for help

Top Tip

It is worth considering where you keep your communication kit (VHF, Mobile Phone etc) and working out if you could access it easily whilst supporting the casualty with one hand.

Further Information

Jeff Allen’s Website – Sea Kayaking Cornwall where Jeff Allen and Simon Osbourne run a range of courses.
Paul Kuthe’s Website – Paul’s blog and website about paddling