After Wet Exit
T (and TX) Rescue
There are a few different types of group rescues. In any given situation, the choice depends on the conditions and your group. The T-rescue is by far the most common assisted rescue that we use. It's an efficient rescue for most capsizes because only one rescuer can execute it. In this scenario, the capsized swimmer (let's say that's you) holds on to boat and paddle (where have you read that before?) while the rescuer approaches. As the rescuer reaches your capsized boat, flip it right side up (if you're able to do so). Then, as the rescuer takes hold of your boat, move, with your paddle, to the bow of the rescuer's boat on the opposite side and hold on. The rescuer pulls the righted kayak over her/his deck, keeping it close to the body to prevent strain injury. This can be a tricky maneuver. It is critical that the rescuer uses the opposite hand to lift the boat. In others words...use the right hand to lift a boat on the left or the left hand to lift a boat on the right. This will allow him/her to rest the near hand on your boat, using it as an outrigger for stability.
The rescuer pulls the boat onto the deck far enough to acquire a good grip with which to rotate the boat upside down in order to drain it. Tilting the boat back while leaning back generally does this. The rescuer avoids injury by not overextending, and at the same time gets lots of stability from the capsized boat. As water spills out of the cockpit, the boat lightens and the rescuer is able to lift the bow of the inverted boat to spill the remaining water out.
This works very well if the swimmer's kayak has a bulkhead just behind the cockpit. If your boat does not have a stern bulkhead or the bulkhead is far behind the cockpit, a great deal of water will be left. The rescuer will then have to lift and pull the capsized boat all the way over the rescue boat and see-saw it back and forth to spill out the water. To do this, the rescuer may need assistance from another paddler. If this additional action is necessary, the event becomes a "T-X" rescue.
Nigel Dennis taught a variation on the bow lift during the 2000 Kayak Skills Symposium This variation is particularly useful when the rescuer has relatively modest upper body strength. The swimmer flips the boat upright so that the rescuer can grab the bow, and then uses the deck lines to get to the other side of the rescuer's boat just ahead of the cockpit. The rescuer drags the bow onto the deck just enough so that the swimmer can grab the bow toggle. Now the swimmer plants both feet against the side of the rescuer's boat and leans back to drag the kayak well onto the rescuer's deck.
Once emptied, the rescuer slides the righted kayak back in the water, side-by-side, bow to stern. Now, the rescuer should be ready to take your paddle. The rescuer puts both paddles across the boats immediately in front of your cockpit. The rescuer leans over your kayak, with the paddles under the armpit, the other forearm on the paddle shafts, and grabs the cockpit coaming with both hands. While holding on securely, the rescuer aggressively rests his/her weight over your kayak and the paddle shafts. At this point, it's time to come up onto the boat. We find it's a good idea for the swimmer to haul up onto the rescuer's front deck, then move across to his/her stern deck. This gives a broader base for maintaining your balance. Position yourself facing the rescuer's boat, ahead of the cockpit. Grab whatever is available on the deck (perimeter lines, cockpit coaming, etc., but NOT hatch covers), float or kick your legs up to the surface of the water, and with a kick, pull your chest and stomach up onto the rescuer's boat (if you have trouble hauling up onto the deck, see Sling Assist). Get your weight centered over the boat as soon as possible. Grab the perimeter lines of the your kayak for added stability. Keeping your body low on the boat, move your torso across the gap to your own boat. Keeping your belly to the deck, move your head toward the stern of your kayak and your legs toward the bow so you can slip your legs into the cockpit. If you have trouble finding the cockpit with your legs, the rescuer will help you. With both legs in the cockpit, slide feet first into the boat until your hips are over the seat. Now twist around (facing the rescuer to maintain balance) and sit in the seat. The rescuer then moves his/her hands off the cockpit to allow you to put on your spray skirt, but continues to stabilize your kayak by holding the deck lines. Now, put on your spray skirt. While the rescuer can help with the spray skirt, his/her main job is to keep your boat stable. The rescuer should check that your grab loop is out. The rescuer should be talking to you during the entire process to provide moral support and help you to remain calm and efficient. The rescuer's job is not over until 1) you are in a dry kayak, 2) your spray skirt is securely on the cockpit coaming, 3) all equipment is stored, 4) you feel comfortable, and 5) a decision is made concerning your ability to continue paddling. When the boat is ready, the spray skirt attached, and the ex-swimmer relaxed and settled, it's time to move on.
Some details may vary in changing conditions, particularly with respect to the action of water and wind, proximity to surf or rocks, and paddler abilities; but the T-rescue generally operates as described here. In typical conditions, you'll be back in your boat in less than two minutes!