After Wet Exit: Righting The Kayak Kayaks With Bulkheads
Righting the kayak is the first step in the self rescue. The technique you use depends on the type of kayak. For kayaks with bulkheads, position yourself at the side of the boat next to the cockpit. You'll be able to feel the cockpit coaming under the surface. Grab the near edge of the coaming with one hand, and the far edge with the other. Let your paddle float between your two arms. Next, you're going to do three things at once, so collect your thoughts and your energy. Now, (1) scissor kick to support your body in the water while you (2) push up vigorously with the near hand and (3) pull toward you vigorously with the far hand. These actions will flip the kayak without scooping too much water into the cockpit, and you'll be ready to begin your re-entry.
An alternative method is to climb up near the middle of the capsized hull and grab the far gunwale. Pull back and the kayak will slowly flip over. This method will scoop up a lot of water, but the boat will be upright. If the waves are big, flip the kayak from the windward side to reduce the amount of water entering the cockpit.
Kayaks Without Bulkheads
For folding kayaks or other kayaks without bulkheads, you can flip the boat over, yet keep most of the water out if it is light enough. Go under the boat and surface inside the cockpit. Inside the capsized boat, it is calm and quiet. Decide which side of the kayak you are going to lift. Put the paddle along the low side (the side you are not lifting). Do a scissor kick to support yourself and flip the side of the kayak over. Don't allow the other side to sink down. The kayak will be upright, and fairly empty of water. For kayaks without bulkheads, this is the best method for two reasons: the boat will be flipped upright with little water inside, and that interval inside the quiet cockpit gives you a moment to calm down. Note that this rescue will only work if you are wearing your PFD. If you don't have your PFD on, the weight of the boat will push you under the water. Of course this maneuver will also be more difficult with a really heavy boat, as well. If the kayak is a low profile model there may not be enough air in the cockpit to get your head above the surface to breathe. The flip will still work, but will have to be done quickly.