Boating Guide Menu

Swim PilotingRescue

Rescuing Swimmers

You may need to rescue a swimmer when their health is flagging, or it becomes clear that they will not make it to their destination. 

Eventually you will have to call it for a swimmer. Even strong swimmers can need help. As a club we pull many swimmers every year even inside the cove.

Motorized Craft 

Even with two people aboard an AB, it can be hard to pull a cold and fatigued swimmer aboard. 

<< How to pull someone into the boat >>

Observer Craft,  (Shells, SUPs, Kayaks) 

Since paddle craft do not have the ability to remove a swimmer from the water, your primary goal is to stay with the swimmer and provide support until they can be pulled out of the water by a motorized craft.. 

  • Radio
  • Paddles-up
  • Holler

Kayaks and SUPs should ask the swimmer grab the bow. If the swimmer attempts to hang onto the side they could tip you over

If a swimmer pauses for too long, their core temperature will start to drop. If help is not readily available, encourage the swimmer to keep swimming.  When swimmers start to feel cold, they can become nervous and eager to get out, even though they may have much more inside. Don’t be afraid to tell the swimmer to “Shut Up and Swim” while your attract help. Tell them to swim 25 or 50 strokes and kick, too.

SUP Flip Rescue

Kayak Rescue (Back Deck Carry) 

Whitehalls and LiteBoats 

If motorized vessels are busy or unavailable, Whitehalls or LiteBoats may be called to rescue a swimmer. 

When a pilot has a distressed swimmer hanging onto their craft (kayaks and SUPs should make the swimmer grab the bow, if the swimmer attempts to hang onto the side they could tip the pilot over), they should hold an oar or paddle in the air to signal a motorized pilot that assistance is needed.

<< Video of how to recover a swimmer onto a whitehall >>

One way to pull a swimmer: ask the swimmer to kick flat in the water, so you are pulling the swimmer in sideways, not lifting up (against gravity).   Be prepared to get wet!

Once you have the swimmer onboard, notify the lead pilot on the event channel of your radio, or hold your oar vertically in the air to summon a motorized craft and if necessary, treat the swimmer for hypothermia.