The Hand of God (HoG)
The H.O.G. is quite possibly the most useful boat-to-boat rescue as it is extremely stable and requires very little, if any, action from the capsized paddler.
It is the rescue that is used to turn over a capsized paddler who is upside down and unable to get out of their boat. It is very rare that you will ever need to use this rescue in vain, however it is a vital skill to learn in case you ever come across a paddler who is injured, unconscious or panicking and can not get out of their capsized kayak.
How to perform a Hand of God Rescue
Decide who is going to be the capsized paddler and who is going to be the rescuer. Similar to practising the other boat based rescues it it good to practice the set up (step 1) a few times with both boats upright before committing to the capsize. It is also a good idea to practice the drill on flat water before taking it onto the whitewater.
During this rescue the role of the capsized paddler is to tuck forward or lie as far back as possible with their head down in the water. This creates a lower centre of gravity and makes performing the rescue easier.
1. Starting a few meters away from the capsized paddlers boat practice paddling in towards their kayak and sliding alongside them so there boat is parallel with your kayak (side by side).
2. Tap the bottom of the boat with your hand, this will be the trigger to remind the capsized paddler to either tuck forwards or lay backwards.
Ideally it is better to tuck forwards as in this position you have the most protection, the lying back technique is usually reserved for an unconscious victim.
3. Reach across to the far side of the boat with one hand grabbing the cockpit rim or edge of the boat.
4. Press down with your other hand on the hull of the capsized paddlers kayak (close to your own boat). By pushing down and away with your close hand and pulling up and towards you with your far hand you will be able to slowly start to smoothly roll their capsized kayak over.
5. As the boat starts to roll, reach across the boat so both hands are on the far side of the boat to finish the roll.
6. Sometimes grabbing the capsized paddlers body helps you right them during the final part of the roll.
7. Once the paddler is upright you can assess the situation, sort out any injuries and paddle them to the safety of the bank.
This is a very useful skill to learn and can be used on paddlers of all shapes and sizes.
A child / smaller paddler can effectively Hand of God rescue an adult / larger paddler using the right technique. They might need to adapt the technique slightly by physical laying their body and boat against / on top of the capsized paddlers boat as they reach across the hull with both hands to grab the cockpit rim with both hands to help them start the roll.
Don’t just try and lift /pull the capsized paddler boat back upright. Use the push and pull technique to roll them. This makes it much easier on your back and uses a lot less energy.