Posted by: hlumpkin | August 27, 2012

Conserve School Students Execute Canoe Rescues to a T

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It was a wet day for everyone in Field Instruction class today as students practiced performing double t-rescues.  Luckily the sky was sunny and the water was still reasonably warm.  A double t-rescue is a procedure used to right two swamped canoe.  During the t-rescue, one canoe forms the top of the T and serves as a base for a second canoe (the stem of the T) that is pushed on top and flipped back over while it is up out of the water.  Then the righted canoe serves as the top of the T and as the base to help right the remaining swamped canoe.

Students learned about t-rescues in three stages during the lesson.  During the introduction students flipped their canoes near the shoreline and then attempted (rather unsuccessfully!) to paddle their swamped canoe just a few feet to the shore.  If you’ve ever been in a swamped canoe you know how difficult this can be!  Although it will still float just under the water line, a swamped canoe has so much water resistance that it is nearly impossible to move.  The students quickly saw that paddling back to shore with a swamped canoe is simply not an option.  During stage 1 of the T-rescue lesson, Conserve School Field Instructors Julia Dodd and Bill Quade rallied the now thoroughly soaked students to show them a diagram on the whiteboard of how a double t-rescue can be performed and used to set two stagnant swamped canoes in motion once again.  During stage 2, Julia and Bill demonstrated the double t-rescue in shallow water and students practiced with groups of 4.  The real test came during stage 3, when students performed a t-rescue in deep water.  Without the ground to use for leverage it can be very difficult to heave a swamped canoe onto another canoe, but students showed impressive teamwork and problem-solving skills as they worked together and found new ways to give themselves a mechanical advantage.

~ Graduate Fellow Heather Lumpkin



  1. OOOOOOOoooooo FUN!
    We used to do this regularly for fun in the summer!
    Darn canoes wouldn’t sink! 🙂

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