How to Get Into a Canoe from the Water

Youth Flip a Canoe
Youth Flip a Canoe. © by George E. Sayour

Flipping in a canoe is a whole unpleasant ordeal.  Gear goes everywhere, gets lost, and damaged.   The canoe itself will be either upside down or right-side up and full of water.  They are heavy and difficult to drag and swim to shore.   So, while nobody wants to be a part of a capsized canoe story, it happens and paddlers should be prepared for it.  Here is how to get back into a canoe from the water.

1) Empty the Canoe

The first thing that will need to happen is that the canoe will need to be flipped back over and emptied. This can be done by bailing out the canoe or through some creative canoe emptying methods. 

2) Position the Canoeists

Both paddlers should position themselves on opposites sides of the canoe close to the center but offset a bit so that they don’t get into each other’s way when they reenter the canoe. 

3) Climb in Unison

This is tricky as both paddlers have to do the same moves at the same time.  Both canoists should push on the side of the canoe while lift their bodies out of the water and placing as much of their torso on the gunwale as they each can. 

4) Start to Get Into the Canoe

With both of their bodies hoisted up onto the sides of the canoe, the paddlers will begin to get into the canoe.  Each canoeist should rotate their bodies and lift one leg over the side of the canoe and place in the boat.

  Be sure to have a little give and take between the two paddlers to keep the canoe stabile. 

5) Finish Getting into the Canoe

At this point you have multiple points of contact with the canoe.  Each paddler is holding the canoe with two hands, their stomach and chest, and one leg is in the boat.  It is time to fully get into the canoe.

  Again, both paddlers have to play give and take to accomplish this and not flip the boat back over. 

6) Get Situated

Be careful when getting situated in the canoe.  Don’t make sudden movements.  This is a time when you can take turns.  Allow the paddler in the bow to comfortably position in front of the seat while staying low on the floor.  The paddler in the stern should then do the same.  Then, at the same time they should lift up off the floor of the canoe and sit in their seats.