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How to Empty a Swamped Canoe from the Water

The Capistrano Flip is a more advanced rescue that you can do without the help of another boat, although it's a lot easier if you're using a light weight canoe, because it requires that you lift the canoe completely out of the water.

Empty and Flip

You'll start by positioning yourself and your partner (if you have one), beneath the overturned canoe and you'll grab both gunnels. If there are two of you, you'll position yourselves at opposite ends, facing each other. You'll then lift one gunnel out of the water to break any suction, and with a strong scissor kick, you'll heave the gunnel up in the air and flip the canoe upright.


Getting back into the upright canoe without any help can be the biggest challenge.

If you're a solo paddler, you'll want to approach the canoe around the midpoint. As a pair, you'll grab opposite sides of the canoe as close to the midpoint as possible without getting in each others way. In both cases, you'll use the same technique for re-entering that we just looked at in the Canoe-Over-Canoe rescue, although pairs will do it in unison to keep the canoe balanced.

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