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If I am whitewater or sea kayaking, it is possible that my kayak will get overturned leading to a live or death situation.

I've heard that it is possible to roll the kayak so it is right side up again, and that's it's called an Eskimo roll. How would I actually do that?

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The first thing you should train is how to quickly and safely exit a capsized kayak. That sucks in a river, but is still better than drowning. – Lagerbaer Feb 2 '12 at 17:33
up vote 12 down vote accepted

The best way to learn would be in a class, with a professional in a controlled environment! The process is very difficult to describe in text. This is one of the best videos I have found describing and showing how to do the screw roll.

Once again, please don't attempt without some training or practice in a controlled environment with someone to assist if things go wrong!

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I agree 100%. It's much easier if you have an instructor or friend to help you in a swimming pool or some calm water. – xpda Jan 26 '12 at 2:55

There are a few methods of rolling a kayak upright. You can find the most popular on Youtube -- they're a little odd to explain in words.

Rolling a kayak is more common with whitewater kayaks, where you may need to do it immediately, and the kayak is smaller.

With a sea kayak you can usually jump out, pump out the water, and climb back in (steps two and three can be reversed). Some sea kayaks are so stable and wide that they're really hard to roll. In fact, most of them are pretty difficult compared to whitewater kayaks.

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I've only had experience with fairly stable sea kayaks and not with any river boats. As long as you have space under the boat (over your head if you're upside down) bring your paddle perpendicular to your upper body so that you're left hand is by your left hip and your right hand is by your left shoulder. In one motion, pull the paddle down to your right (continuing as far as you can), flick your hips to the left, and leave back to keep your centre of gravity close to the boat. The flick is good to get that last little push to bring the boat back up.

Be ready when you come up to balance yourself with your paddle by bracing the blade on the water and pushing. That will keep you from going around again.

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