I recently posted on this. I'm pretty comfortable getting back in a swamped boat after an across-the-bow recovery, but my big concern has always been getting back in when paddling alone. This summer I put one of my boats on Council Bluff, swamped it, and tried to get back in. The Argosy had enough floatation to keep the rails at the surface, but there was no way I could partially empty the boat and attempt re-entry. I ended up swimming my canoe to shore, about 50 yards in calm warm water.It was pretty exhausting. I did learn from this experiment, though. I decided my best bet was to rig my canoe for a paddle float/outrigger, and install large enough floatation bags to get the rail well out of the water. Since I'd most likely be paddling alone in my Bell Magic, I bought a couple standard bags from NRS, and ordered a paddle float. This has been an expensive and labor-intensive project; just figuring out the best lashing for the bags in an untralite 2-layer kevlar hull has been difficult. Now I have the bags installed and am waiting for the paddle float. Off to CB Lake this weekend to see if it all works. The test will be to swamp the boat, right it, attach the paddle float to the paddle and the paddle to the center thwart, roll over the side, and remove water with my bail bucket.
There is another side to this problem I didn't appreciate until t was almost too late: stuff essential for recovery (paddle float, bailer, etc) HAS to be securely anchored where it's available when needed; stuff that you bring along that will get in the way of recovery (dry bag, water containers, etc) should probably not be anchored unless by long tether. In my experience, my dry bag was anchored behind by seat and was forever in the way when I was trying to recover. The paddle, unless connected to a paddle leash, has to be clenched in a death grip from the moment of capsize. Losing it will definitely make a bad day worse.