Bernard Budworth was resuscitated by emergency services after members of the public dragged him from the canal in Ellesmere on September 14, but he had suffered a serious brain injury and died in hospital six days later.
The inquest into his death heard that Mr Budworth, from Warrington in Cheshire, was on a canal break with his wife, when he left their boat to collect some food for them both.
Senior coroner John Ellery summarised a statement by Mrs Budworth, who attended the hearing along with other family members.
He said at that 8.20pm she heard a noise, which turned out to be Mr Budworth entering the canal.
Mr Ellery said: “The police investigated and the most plausible scenarios are that your husband lost his footing or had a medical episode when he tried to get back onto the boat.
“What is clear is that, however it happened, it was an accident.”
A statement was read to the hearing from Douglas Yelland, who heard Mrs Budworth screaming and rushed to help.
He described how he and two others pulled Mr Budworth, who was face-down in the canal, onto the towpath.
Police and ambulance staff arrived and managed to resuscitate Mr Budworth, who was taken to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
His condition deteriorated and he was transferred to the Severn Hospice, where he died on September 20.
The medical cause of death was given as acute hypoxic brain injury, caused by Mr Budworth almost drowning.
Mr Ellery recorded a conclusion of accidental death. He added that some of the people who helped Mr Budworth on that night had been put forward for an award from the Royal Humane Society.