The Hand of God Kayak Rescue

The Hand of God kayak rescue is used when a person is upside down in his or her kayak and is not making any progress toward getting out of the kayak or rolling the kayak back up. This could be due to them being unconscious in the boat, having an injury preventing them from exiting the kayak, or due to panic in the kayak. Here are the steps to doing the Hand of God kayak rescue maneuver.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 5-10 seconds

Here’s How:

  1. Begin paddling toward the person you might need to use the Hand of God on. Make sure the person really needs your help. The last thing you want to do is get in the way of them trying to roll back up or safely exit the kayak. Look for their body, their arms, the paddle, or any movement of the boat. Look to do the Buddy Rescue, or assisted roll if their arms are out of the water.
  2. Once you are certain that they need your help and that a buddy rescue is not an option, pull up right alongside the other kayak. It is easiest if your kayak is facing the same direction as their kayak, but don’t waste time turning your boat around if you are already facing the other way.
  3. Put your paddle next to your boat in the water as you’re going to need both hands to do the Hand of God. I know this is counterintuitive, but you don’t have a lot of time here and you need to get your paddle out of the way.
  4. Reach across the person’s upside-down kayak at the cockpit area and try to grab the underside of the far side of the boat. Pull the kayak and the person up in what will amount to a rolling motion. Put some force into this. As the kayak begins to flip back over, grab onto the shoulder strap of the person’s pfd (life jacket) and pull them the rest of the way up.

  • Be careful not to flip yourself over when attempting to do the Hand of God kayak rescue. Use the other person’s boat to stabilize both of your boats.
  • Find and grab both your paddle and the other person’s paddle once you have completed the Hand of God kayak rescue and the other person is safely upright.
  • Of course, check on the other person and provide them with whatever assistance they need.

What You Need:

  • 2 kayaks
  • 2 PFDs
  • 2 Paddles
  • 2 Kayakers