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Paddle Floats = Fraud?

Greetings All,

I ran across this site while trying to look up an index for Sea Kayaker Magazines (collected enough back issues that I have to start organizing them :-) )


It looks like this guy is making the point that the majority of current rescue methods and accessories (eg. paddle floats) are not effective in rough/dire conditions. It also appears several organizations & individuals are involved in "murder"...

I am still relatively new to kayaking and not sure what to make of this. Your thoughts?


Found the Sea Kayaker Magazine Index :-)



  • Paddle floats are one rescue tool
    that individual is engaged in libel and slander. I would never purchase his sponsons.

    We have run across him before. Beware anyone who tries to self promote a product by slamming others.

    Clearly he has never tried to become educated and skilled in a variety of techniques.
  • conditions
    -- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 10:39 AM EST --

    Paddle float rescues become more difficult as conditions get rougher. So does EVERY other rescue and self-rescue technique. That's just a fact of life.

    A paddle float is a useful tool with limitations.

    Your choice of effective rescue tools and techniques will be affected by your body type, size, agility, strength, and skill level. It will vary depending on the boat you paddle, the conditions you paddle in, and the people you paddle with.

    Every worthwhile rescue and self-rescue technique requires practice.

    Be wary of absolute statements. Be open to new ideas. Try a variety of tools and techniques, and see what works for you in realistic conditions.

  • What an...
    ...a$$ monkey. That is the worst product sales pitch that I have ever read. Me thinks that he may end up on the receiving end of a legal event.
  • No fraud, but a reasonable issue
    Putting aside the guy's over-the-top rhetoric, polemics, bombast and misuse of legal terminology, he raises a legitimate safety question:

    Are inflatable sponsons a more effective rescue device than a paddle float?

    It seems intuitively obvious that sponsons can stabilize the boat after reentry, while the paddler trying to bail, pump or paddle to shore in waves.

    However, it seems less obvious whether sponsons have sufficient bouyancy and lever arm to make reentry easier than a paddle float. I think that would require some empirical testing, and sounds like a worthwhile experiment.
  • He has been around a long time
    He is a big time trouble maker with no common sense. Going all the way back to Usenet and the forums there he has made a career of wild accusations and spamming. Best to just ignore him.
  • Options
    paddle floats do have their limits
    In mostly calm water paddle floats are a very realistic way to get back in if you don't have someone able to give a good assisted rescue. If a sudden boat wake or lack of care reaching in to your day hatch causes you to flip you can use it to get back in. As conditions get worse I do find them less ideal both due to the time it takes and trying to avoid flipping away from the float side. As you gain skills you will find other solo rescues quicker and sometimes more reliable.

    For a while in my early paddling I did carry sponsons just in case. I paddled solo a lot on mostly calm days and could do self rescues but was concerned for those rare times when I might get caught by some rougher than expected waters (never happened). Like everything you need to practice with them and they do slow you down but they seemed effective as a backup plan. So not perfect but just another tool to carry.
  • Well
    A paddle float is useless if you never PRACTICED with it. If you give a person who has never used a paddle flaot before and say hey get back in your kayak they most likley wount be able to do it. Its a skill that needs to be LEARNED. They work with proper skill. No learned skill then they dont work. Just like a cowboy scarmble is usless without practice. Thinking about a paddle float ever try and re-enter and roll with a paddle float attached to your paddle. its bombproof.
  • My experience
    -- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 11:35 AM EST --

    I learned to do a solo reentry in calm water. When I then practised in rough water I was not able to do it despite many attempts. That is no doubt due to age and fitness. If you have any special circumstance like being less fit or agile, you could find that the window of opportunity, for example between waves, is just too short to allow you to reenter. It would easily take me four times longer than a younger, fitter person to reenter.

    Realizing that I couldn't do a reentry in the conditions that were likely to have dumped me changed how I kayak. I no longer count on being able to reenter and I adjust my trips accordingly. I'm guessing that I'm not the only person in this situation---able to reenter in calm water but overwhelmed by rough water. I wonder how realistic people are about their reentry skills.

    A paddle float isn't a fraud, but it is only as good as your own skills and fitness.

  • my thoughts:
    This guy is a loon with too much time on his hands. Any sane human being who was truly concerned about safety wouldn't go about it slandering competing products.

    I would never return to that guy's website again, and I hope he gets his ass sued off.
  • agree with veryone
    Paddlefloat is the first recovery skill taught to sea kayakers as it is relatively easy to do. But most more advanced sea kayakers won't use that as their rescue of choice (if my roll failed, I would do a scramble if alone or T rescue if I had others around). As others have said, a paddlefloat rescue does have its limitations, both based on the skills and training of the person doing it and the conditions. But it is part of the toolbox of skills one should know.

    Now looking at what the sponsonguy claims, that we need a foolproof recovery method. I am pretty sure that his sponsons are not foolproof. I am almost tempted to get a set and test, but think I'd rather just ignore this guy.
  • tried it
    Maybe 10 or 15 years ago I bought a pair of those sponsons and set up my Mariner Express (which I have since sold) for them. I did a bit of practice with them, and they seemed to me better than the paddle float. They took longer to deploy but it was much easier to re-enter. It was very stable once you re entered and for bailing out the water. A bit of a hassle to then un-deploy them.

    Don't let your dislike of the originator dissuade you from giving them a try.
  • when a sales rep is dishonest
    and disingenuous to the point he is, it's hard for that to not reflect on his product. A good product doesn't require dishonesty to sell.

    I'm sure sponsons are another tool in the toolbox, just as paddle floats are.
  • But....
    ...what about rule 91, never buy anything from a crazy person? I think I'll wait until a sane person steals his idea, then try it. Wait, that violates rule 73, never buy a product sold by someone who stole the idea, dang....
  • True
    If a reasonable person were selling them, folks might take sponsons more seriously.

    Years ago I had a similar setup that was supposed to make a sailboard more stable for beginners. It did work -- to a point -- but had disadvantages as well.
  • Foolproof ?
    -- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 6:53 PM EST --

    Is the sponsoon system foolproof

    Sponsoon system requires CO2 cartridges doesn't it?
    CO 2 cartridges are foolproof?

    Sponsoon system requires flotation bags doesn't it?
    Flotation bags are foolproof?

    Canoes & kayaks require paddlers.
    With the sponsoon system; even unskilled paddlers are perfectly safe in any condition.
    No training, no practice, no skills, no pfd, no decision making skills, no trip plan, no radio, no lights, no paddle float, no tow system, no first aid kit necessary.
    Your boat is outfitted with sponsoons; you're good to go!


  • A nut case
    -- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 1:56 PM EST --

    Many's the time I've "started" to read one that guy's rants, but never once did I get far. His approach is so over-the-top and full of made-up accusations as to be intolerable to read, and he completely misses the point that taking a boat that has certain performance attributes and converting into an ungainly life raft may not be what most good paddlers are looking for. I can't help but wonder if a person could possibly be so totally intolerable in real life as he makes himself out to be via the things he writes. Surely not, but then, I'm wrong quite often about other things so...

  • right. nothing is "foolproof"
    (particularly to us kayakers and canoeists!)
  • it sort of makes me sad
    I agree. His message gets completely lost in his rhetoric.

    This guy is on such a rabid crusade that he's really making a spectacle of himself, and it makes me feel a bit sad for him. Something is missing...

    If I met him, his crusading would always be on my mind.
  • Re-entry roll
    The paddle float can serve well as insurance for this technique.
  • Seen his shtick before.
    I believe this guy is angling for legislation requiring his product on every paddlecraft. He is definitely performing for the nannies and those who would want nannies.
  • I never thought of that before
    You might have hit the nail on the head.
  • Give him................
    Give him a free cell phone, and tell him,
    "Call someone who cares".

    And give him some free cheese to go with his whine.

    Some people will bitch if you hang em with a new rope!

  • Mellow Out
    I don't see why everyone is getting so excited about the guy. I don't know him, only briefly skimmed his rants, and the rants of those that don't like him. I don't care about him one way or the other.

    However, those sponsons are reasonable and well worth a try. They are not great, neither is a paddle float. I don't carry the sponsons any more, but they do function and are an added backup.

    Ignore all these personal attacks, even if they are true, and think about the sponsons.

  • mellow out?
    The OP asked for input on the nutcase's site. People are answering. If you don't like the answers - don't ask or don't read them.

    Anyone who truly believes in sponsons ought to have a nice chat with this guy and ask him to "mellow out", because he's not helping the cause.

  • Seems to me
    if one wants to be helpful to the OP, it might be slightly better to talk about the sponsons, not the web site or the purveyor. I am certainly not a believer in the sponsons, however I actually mounted them on my boat and experimented with them.
  • The sponson guy
    He has an agenda. 'Nuff said.

    But since you are new to this, you should also learn sooner rather than later that ALL rescue options have a failure point. The paddle float loses its value in waves, at least for most people. The roll can be a non-starter if you have insured a shoulder in the course of getting upside down. The cowboy requires physical strength that that may not be present if you have been battling difficult conditions for a while on the water. And I am sure others could run that list on just about forever.

    Hence the two basic suggestions of long boat kayaking -always know more than one self-rescue, and paddle with others who can help you if your personal options run out.
  • Sponson Guy is a small antelope,
    a dik dik.

    Harmony offers a serviceable sponson kit for anyone who insists on trying them.

    I'd like Celia and kayakmedic to explain how one capsizes in a sea kayak. My Necky Looksha Sport sits so low and steady under my considerable weight that I cannot believe it would capsize under any conditions under which I might have put to sea.

    Reboarding, whether with a paddle float or sponsons, is so unlikely for a 6' 5" paddler that I would rather put my time into brushing up on rolling.
  • Mellow out?
    -- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 7:29 PM EST --

    I was mellow when I stated my opinion.
    Didn't ask for anybody's permission to state it.
    Won't do so in the future either.

    Helpful suggestion to OP: Don't buy any products from anyone who acts as if they've has been off their medication too long, and engages in tangential rants & raves on the internet.

    There is no piece of equipment; there is no technique, that will assure your complete safety if you go paddling. Want to be totally safe in your canoe or kayak? Keep them & yourself out of the water.

    Like many on pnet, I have read sponsoon guy's tangential rants, and raves on several occasions in years past. The guy is a one trick pony who needs new material. His way, and his equipment
    will always be the only correct solution to every problem.


  • To start....
    -- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 8:23 PM EST --

    you have to spend a decent long day out on the sea.

    I am not being flippant. Tiredness and waves have put plenty of quite decent paddlers into the water. I just looked at your profile and don't see an indication that distances well offshore for an all day paddle are what you do. That is where even those with decent balance can go over.

    But your concept of an unflippable boat is not realistic. I can only guess how our friend managed to flip a Pungo in flat water, though I had told him he had that coming if he didn't loosen up just two weeks before. I have no idea how my brother-in-law flipped over a Swifty by lifting up his hand to wave to a friend on shore. But he did capsize, it happened right in front of me. I should note that he had sufficient bulk to sink the darned thing pretty well, which appears to be the situation you describe.

    To be more grim, I don't know how the young man on his honeymoon a couple of fall seasons ago flipped over off off Mt Desert Island or the older woman the year before or the two young women who were paddling in transition boats between Peak's Island and one not far from it somewhere in the last couple or three years. But they clearly did because they were healthy when they got into the boat, most were young, and their bodies were nowhere near the boat when they were found. They didn't spontaneously eject after losing their life while sitting in their kayaks.

    I have seen and handled other capsizes. If you haven't been in a group when someone capsized in a kayak, my best guess is that you have not stretched your range offshore to get caught in nasty, or don't admit lesser paddlers to your pod.

  • Mellow out?
    Sponson guy is the one who needs to mellow out. He won't though - cause he's got some snake oil to sell, and mellow just won't do.
  • You're correct that I have not stretched
    my distance offshore. That is an ancient survival strategy drummed into my head through evolution. My ancestors colonized the world by paddling along shorelines, staying within reasonable distance of some landing. Ever try to reboard a coracle?

    Still, never having flipped a ww kayak or c-1, no matter how long the day in miles or hours, unless I was upset by a freak wave or a hole, it is hard for me to conceive of just going over in a sea kayak.

    Canoeists usually just give up on the idea of self-rescue, and compensate by scoping conditions and distance to shore.
  • Options
    Just head north....
    I guess I am safe up here in Canada. Seems this wave of paddle float deaths is only killing Americans.
  • He who shall not be named...
    is a zealot. I have a long history with him and while I would never go out on the water without safety equipment, if the choice were between death and carrying this idiot's product on the boat, I'd have to think long and hard about the matter before setting out.

    He is a sad and deranged individual who, when challenged, resorts to name calling, insults, and then cites horror stories about how folks who had no business on the water die each year. While his product MIGHT save some lives, it is by no means a certainty.

    Examples are easy to come by, but lets get to the point of the matter. When people point out that safety equipment is last resort (ie. a lot has already gone wrong when you end up in the water and NO AMOUNT of safety equipment will get you out of conditions you cannot handle), he calls them "murderers" and other such drivel. He claims his product (I will not use the name since he scans the web for incidences where the product is referenced and starts posting incessantly to those locations - he WILL find and hit us with his diatribes very soon, sorry to say) will save people who, with no training, will suddenly find themselves in the water and think, "if only I had this product to save me!"

    He cites specific incidents of people who would not have recognized the danger of the conditions and their lack of skill to handle them. These deaths are unfortunate and, in some cases, quite avoidable, but these individuals would certainly not have recognized or been able to successfully use his product even if it was stored somewhere in the boat. He claims his product will help you in any and all conditions, yet, lacking skills, this product will not help a kayaker any more than they would have helped the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald (or any other ship) who is out in conditions their craft and skills cannot handle.

    This is the problem with zealots. They tend to lack reason and perspective. If you wish to be safe on the water, your best investment is to improve your judgement and skills (in that order, IMO) because no amount of safety equipment will save you from your own idiocy or complacency and nature's wrath.

    If, after improving skills, building upon experience, and using judgement to know the limits of same, one feels more comfortable with additional safety equipment, buy that safety equipment you wish to have in your boat (preferably from another seller). Are these better than a paddle float? Arguably yes. Will they accomplish all that this zealot says they will?

    Absolutely not.

    By the way, I do not sell any products or kayak related services and what I write here is based upon personal belief and experience.

    Note that the paddle float was designed and implemented by sea kayaking pioneers Matt and Cam Broze (probably Matt, since I've seen his name applied to same) in the early days of rising popularity of sea kayaking on the west coast (usa). The method of use they devised, which was not what is generally taught in kayaking classes, and is both easier and more reliable than the method I was taught. Others have improved upon the method over time and those trained with the paddle float generally DO NOT have a history of drowning while kayaking. I have heard many stories of people not being able to get back into their boats with the paddle float and don't see it as a panacea for all incidents on the water.

    The paddle float is simply a tool in one's safety arsenal. If you carry one, good. Use it, practice with it. It is only of use if you can use it in the conditions where you might need it or it will likely be useless to you except as a PFD.

    The same applies to ALL safety devices.

  • I'm amazed that...
    ...you haven't flipped. I always work from the assumption that I'm between capsizes and am prepared for those eventualities.

    I bet the captain of the Costa Concordia wasn't expecting to flip either :)
  • It
    might make an interesting product review in a paddling magazine.
  • Options
    Good Grief!
    What an idiot.
  • I'm sure I would flip in surf. And
    out on the ocean, big waves might get me.

    Thing about whitewater is, your vertical status is challenged rather often, and your defensive measures are too. I don't know how a long day in the sun on a flat sea might affect me.
  • remidns me of
    Reminds me of a picture that popped up on my facebook feed today:
  • Options
    seen him around for years already
    He's a moron, the one about whom it was said "fear not the fools who know nothing, but the ones who have read only one book".

    Sponsons on kayaks been around for decades, incorporated into off-the-shelf kayaks - SeaBird designs (with VKV input) and regular VKV boats (Swedish manufacturer), probably more, if I would have bothered to look. Sponsons are far from foolproof, as any other rescue method, because it is not the particular method that kills, it is cold water and lack of skill. Without training rescue methods are useless - the sad fact of life is - the average "victim of deadly paddle float fraud" would have never practiced any of the alternative rescue skills anyway.

    Yes, kayaking can be dangerous. Unlike driving it is something we engage purely for the fun of it.

    I think bigger problem is the popularity of short rec boats lacking adequate flotation, but promoted as "stable and fun kayaks that every member of the family can use". People need to get over their attitude that water sports are affordable, fun and safe. They are inherently not safe. Because we are land mammals.
  • He's not just a zealot, he's deranged
    He rails against the established methods of sea kayak self-rescue and calls anyone who teaches them a murderer, but he routinely attempts to exploit the deaths of children for his personal gain. Don't believe for a minute that his ranting is about safety; it's about money, plain and simple. He stands to make a pile of it if he can convince politicians to mandate his product on all kayaks sold (his stated goal). He is a sick, twisted individual. Fortunately, nobody is listening to him, since it's obvious how crazy he is.

    Anyone interested in trying sponsons should buy them from a reputable source, not this dirtbag.
  • Thank you all!
    Thank you everyone for their comments!

    Yeah - the rhetoric was a real turn off, however it looks like the concept may have merit.

    Currently in the process of building a yost kayak - Hopefully I'll have enough pvc skin and glue left over to build a pair of sponsons to try out.

    Thanks again!
  • Options
    Perfect Murder at Sea Kayaker
    Please read all of:

    You see, it is all very simple, admitted by mr. Broze and well documented by the magazine for 2 decades. Don't read the links if you can't read this single page and follow the pictures as well as the text. Some of you seem to be as stupid as mr. Broze and Roger. It is all very simple. Just read the page. I have been advising authors, instructors and other sane people that the tea party is the predominant intellectual choice of the general paddling community to date, unfortunately. Tim
  • Sponsons
    After the first paragraph, it should be obvious to anyone that the sponsons guy has some issues, but I was hoping to read others experience with sponsons or alternative self rescue aids.

    I have always wondered if there was a way to use the large (inexpensive) pool noodles, either as sponsons, or even slipped over a paddle handle with slits that could slide out over the blades in a capsize?

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