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spare paddle consensus

I have just sold my last "spare" boat in the fleet and threw in a war club paddle that was often used as a spare.
I realize that now all of the paddles I own I actually give a crap about, and cannot see them put into "spare" paddle day trip status. I have been thinking about a 4 piece paddle to put inside to clean up the deck for wet entry reasons.

I find that my favorite paddles are all high angle, big bladed, (corryvrecken types) with both bent and straight shafts, varying from 210 to 215cm, depending on the boat of the day.

I was wondering if other paddlers, (read more experienced0, spare paddles change with the type of water, or if there is any logic to the selection of a spare?


  • I am different
    I am different than you and I find that I don't need to change paddles size or style for different waters.
    I paddle with a 3 piece carbon fibre Greenland Northern Light paddle that seems to satisfy all my needs, from still lake water paddling to large ocean swell or wave surfing.
    I find it difficult to change paddles and takes me a little while to adjust to a different blade, even if the difference is subtle. I like the predictability of one paddle and to know what I can do with it.
    As a spare I have an identical paddle on the back deck: low profile and does not get in the way of rescues (which are reenter and roll anyway).
  • Not too sure about more exp., but,
    I generally pack a greenland storm paddle for the following reasons;it fits on the front deck so no hinderance of cowboy scramble, if I lose a paddle in a dire moment there's no need for assembly, I can roll, scull, brace and paddle just fine with it, it's the cats' meow when there's a heinous headwind and it's relatively inexpensive.

    That being said, there are times where I want two specific paddles or one of two but not sure which one. Then the GSP is left behind for another choice.

    All the best, tOM
  • So
    Some common sense: If you lose your paddle when on the water, would you really want your spare to be out of reach "inside"?

    I keep a home made 3 piece spare on my back deck. Have never had to use it, though I'm also a tame water kayaker.

    But laughingly, I was queried about it deridingly by a paddling buddy on one jaunt. Almost immediately after he said something, he smacked his paddle on a guy wire on a dock we were passing and it was wrenched out of his hands, plus he had no leash. He was nearly helpless and I had to paddle over to bring him his lost paddle.

    At that point I made sure to remind him that was why I had a spare on my boat! He was chagrined, you can bet on that.
  • Good quality spare
    If I'm on a long trip and need to use my spare paddle for several days, an inferior paddle could ruin the trip. I have a Werner Camano for my spare. I never would have spent that much money on a spare---it came free with a used kayak I bought.
  • Logic for the spare
    If you have to actually use it, you'll be very unhappy with a club. I ended up in this situation a couple of seasons ago. I got to the launch and had a last minute problem that meant I had to actually use my spare all day. By day's end I had resolved that I would not paddle with a spare that was any less pleasant to use than my usual main paddle - ie a few hundred dollars worth of lightweight. I was hurting for a couple of days due to the weight of the paddle and, because it wasn't as efficient as my normal, how high I had to run my cadence to keep up.

    One argument I have heard for a heavier spare is in surf or rocks, for those worried about the fragility of foam core paddles. Heavier may be better there.

    Another logical approach is to carry both a Euro and a GP, so aging bodies can take a rest by switching off the two paddling approaches. Of course that works better if you are already comfortable paddling with a GP...

    I agree with one point above - having the spare any place that makes retrieval complicated is a risk, and a completely unnecessary one. Put the spares on the front deck so they are readily available. You can get or make a pair of Paddling Britches if needed to help anchor the splits, or modify the deck rigging.

    One of the exercises that is a wonderful thing to practice is to capsize, lose the paddle, and grab a split off the front deck from upside down to help roll up. I have only been able to complete this process using a GP myself because I need something pretty major to grab. But we have friends who can do it with half of a regular Euro.
  • Yep
    I'm also a proponent of only keeping 'good'paddles on the boat, and having them in reach, preferably already assembled. Also, I almost always do the GP/EP mix, that way I don't have to decide which to use before putting in.

    When I first fell in love with the GP, I used to go out with 2 of them, but if there's a situation where someone in a group needs a spare and they've never used a GP before, that would be a problem.
  • pick up where I left off
    I just want the paddle to have the familiar feel that I am used to should I need it, so I want something with a familiar blade shape.
    I keep my spare on the back deck. I've found that paddling through waves, pretty much anything on the front deck tends to start throwing spray up. I practice rescues crawling on the back deck right over the top of them (the two halves), and it's never occurred to me that they were presenting a serious problem over the years.
    I decided years ago that I simply wasn't going to concern myself anymore with a paddle breaking and flipping out of my hands in rough water, going over, and pulling out the spare off of the deck to roll back up. It's a good idea, and I might try it, but I don't have high expectations of it working out, so I'm not willing to tolerate years of a front deck stowed paddle deflecting water up for that marginally increased probability of the unlikely actually working out for me. I think I realized that in a real situation, I'm probably going to need a few moments to pull myself out of the "Oh _____" moment. I decided that if my paddle breaks in rough water, something really went wrong, and it's ok if it takes a wet exit to get a paddle back in order to continue.
    In any case, the same familiar blade shape that I'm using is what I prefer to be able to grab in such a situation. If I'm already challenged, I don't want to have to adjust to a different style paddle. If I'm not challenged, I'm just upright holding a broken paddle, and can probably find a variety of ways to safely handle the situation. That's just my conclusions so far.
  • Options
    grabbing spare
    "lose the paddle, and grab a split off the front deck from upside down to help roll up". I'd love to make this easier to do but in order to make the spare paddle able to stay put through surf it needs to be secure enough that it's hard to just casually tug at it. I can get it myself but I have to move a bungee I added as extra protection. Always curious if others have ways to keep a spare secure through surf and yet easy to get when flipped.
  • Not in surf
    There is maybe one person I know who has the presence of mind and physical strength to do this in surf. I was talking about less challenging conditions, bumpy water that could create a capsize without the added thrill of undertow and rip currents and large rock surfaces coming at you.

    And there is what you mention - by the time a paddle is secure enough to make it thru the surf, there is a decent chance it'll be a bear to rip off in the time you need.

    My own limited time in surf resolved to only one paddle solution - hang onto your primary paddle no matter what.
  • Options
    in my case most simple coastal paddles still involve surf which is why it's a question for me. I don't generally lose the paddle in surf -- I'm probably more likely to lose one from a extra strong gust of wind though that hasn't actually happened yet. When actively surfing for it's own sake I park and play and leave the spare in the car.
  • Paddle on front or back
    There has been some movement over the years here. When we started paddling, people kept their spares on the back. Then we encountered some changing thought about that as well as had reasons to reconsider with our own practices. There was a while when I decided to confuse everyone and carry one half front and one back. I was getting tired of the debates about it and that seemed to leave me out of it. The access to the spare in a capsize is about the least important part to me now.

    The most important reasons that the splits are on the front for me now are:
    Ease of switching between paddles while I am out. It is just easier to swap between my own paddles, as well as loan out mine for someone to try, when they are on the front. (Including aiming right at the Paddle Britches that are on both sea kayaks now).
    The GP, if I am carrying that as spare, only fits on the front.

    Towing works best with as little on the rear deck as I can manage. Even with low decked boats it is surprisingly easy for me to turn around and find my tow line caught on something behind me that requires another paddler to reach.

    I can't say I have had to do much towing as a real life thing, but I have had enough trouble practicing with even minor stuff on the back deck that I don't want anything there extending beyond my arm reach.
  • twist the bungies
    I agree that it's tough to keep a split on the foredeck in some conditions, and if I'm parking and playing, I'll usually put a spare inside my stern hatch (a 210 2-piece just fits into the oval hatch of both my boats).

    But when I want a split on deck I have good luck with twisting the end of the shaft in the deckline, so the shaft is completely encircled by bungee. Then get the blade under as many rows of deck bungie as possible. Getting it out takes a solid pull, and then slide it all the way down through all the bungies, but very doable in my experience.
  • paddle britches
    I keep my 2 piece corrywrecken on the fore deck. Ends in Northwater paddle britches and blades under the deck bungees. Lots of surf action and never lost one, and it's available for the party trick spare paddle roll up. Occasionally if I get really hammered, it will dislodge a blade but never lost one. Maybe you need better deck bungees.The britches keep the ends from getting all full of sand as well.
    The REAL party trick is to assemble it and roll up. :)
  • It Ain't a Spare
    I have one GP with significantly less surface area than the other. I use it for going into a stiff breeze or if I just feel like increasing my cadence. Think chainrings on a bicycle. It fits nicely on the foredeck.
  • Options
    spare? always.
    i'd not like being in the middle of anything and totally screwed for want of a paddle!

    i secure the R hand split on the foredeck and the L hand split on the rear deck. both, spoon up so i can easily get a hand under.

    the reasoning is that if i am one way or another, i can grab something and roll up with the split....and yes, i do practice that and yes, i can reliably do so. it isn't really any more challenging than rolling with a full length paddle.

    the ends are twisted around bungie secure enough that i can surf and play in real water and as long as i can secure those ends i've almost never had one come loose...there are exceptions to everything.

    as nate said...one good tug, you pull the paddle out from beneath and you're in business.

    i use a celtic paddle and the occasional ikelos...all big blades, all about 210.
  • I feel a little stupid now.
    I have been working on being able to roll in either direction first with EP, then hand rolling, it had never occurred to me to use my spare in the event I lose my paddle. In the last year I have finally gotten to the point where the wet exit is not my "go to" rescue.
    I have not had to do this yet in a real world situation, I have not lost my paddle in the surf - yet.

    I am thinking I had better stick with my large surface area paddles, and I generally have one day a month for skills practice, one day a month is turning out to be not enough. The more I learn, the less I know.
  • Options
    no reason to feel dumb
    nobody knows everything and the only reason some know more than others are the series of mistakes made...that's experience, right? the mistakes we've learned from that haven't killed us! have fun!
  • I thought the topic ...
    -- Last Updated: Feb-15-13 9:28 PM EST --

    ... was set forth in the last sentence of the OP:

    "I was wondering if . . . spare paddles change with the type of water, or if there is any logic to the selection of a spare?"

    My answer is, yes, there is always a logic to the type of paddles I bring on a trip, whether a day trip or an overnight trip. None of my paddles is ever a "spare" in the sense of being a cheap piece of junk I would only use as a last resort if I lose or break my main paddle. All my paddles are quality paddles that I like to use in different circumstances, almost always during the course of the same trip.

    Therefore, I pick paddles for my trips depending on the type of water (depth, current, flat, white, rocky, beaver dammy), the pace of paddling (gunkholing, cruising, exercising, racing), and my position in the canoe (kneeling, sitting, standing). If I'm only paddling FW, I'll take a straight and a bent paddle. If rapids are part of the trip, I may take a WW paddle. If I want sit 'n switch speed, I'll take a smaller blade. Cruising, I'll take a larger blade.

    When kayaking, I apply the same logic, though my number of paddles and shapes is much less than those of my canoe paddles. I'll typically take a soft-bite blade for easy cruising and a big-bite blade for speed and acceleration. If I'm paddling lakes connected by bony streams, I may take my beater ABS blade to handle the rocks. If I had a wing paddle, which I don't, I'd put that somewhere in the paddle rotation depending on the type and purpose of the trip.

    I can also see a completely different logic of always staying with the same shape blade. In that case, I might take two similarly shaped blades made out of different materials, or one being a one-piece and the other being a two-piece. But that's never been my logic.

    I didn't think storage position was part of the topic, but I generally don't like anything on top of my front deck in a decked boat.

  • Yes, while surfing...
    ...since getting a reliable roll, I've only had my paddle ripped from my hands once and I was quite able to pull my spare & roll up with it, retrieve my main paddle and all was good. With a little practice it is not difficult as long as your combat roll is reliable.

    Last weekend during one of the more brutal surf sessions I've been in one of the crew had his paddle taken by the wave while upside-down, he managed a hand roll with help from the wave. But what the wave giveth, the wave taketh away, he was promptly re-rolled & had to pull a half off the front deck to roll back up.

    There's some pictures of the surf session posted on the Neptune's Rangers facebook site.
  • Exactly
    That day I swam in Back Sound taught me a lot!
  • OK - more can do it
    -- Last Updated: Feb-16-13 9:19 AM EST --

    But it is not likely to be an entry level talent for folks just starting out in surf... I have also had capsizes happen close enough to shore that staying in the boat meant my torso or head was being dragged along the bottom. If there were rocks rather than sand in that space... not sure I trust the helmet quite that much.

  • After re-read...
    I totally get what you're saying and agree conditionally. The conditions one finds themselves in that is. I also "conditionally" stand by all my comments on this thread.

    FWIW, if while upside-down the under current wants my paddle badly enough I will let go of the trailing end; this takes most of all the pressure off of holding onto it and protects me from getting a shoulder ripped out and/or losing the paddle. Anytime I feel my arms getting over-extended I try to use this. I feel it's safer and this is a good option for me because I'm comfortable with pulling a spare and rolling up with it.

    I talked with Sergy when he lost his paddle last Sat., he said one second his paddle was there, the next it was gone. This has happened to me before. It can and will happen to anyone in the "right" conditions.

    All the best, tOM
  • Roll up with half a paddle?
    I've done it in flat water but don't know how realistic it is in rough stuff.
  • that's worth practicing
    Just a few weeks ago I sat along the beach in the broken waves for a while, in water just deep enough to clear my head upside down, to where my shoulder hit bottom, just capsizing repeatedly. I like to do this once in a while just to practice righting myself with one quick nudge off the bottom, letting go of the paddle with one hand to nudge off the bottom with my hand. When I'd land on my shoulder, I'd nudge with my elbow.
    Practicing this once in a while makes it come naturally for me when I find myself capsized, washed into shallows. If the wave is still powerful enough to drag you behind the kayak in water that shallow, you'll be able to ride along the surface if you allow your paddle to trail and just allow the planing paddle face to keep you up towards the surface. Works like a champ as long as you don't panic and try to push your body above the surface with the paddle. Just float with the blade along the surface until the wave loses a little more energy to allow you to sit up without being knocked right back over. The kayak will always end up leading your body towards shore in these situations.
    So effectively, you won't have to worry about your head or torso being dragged along the bottom by a wave, or how to roll up quickly if you find yourself in that position. It's an easy one to practice and an easy one to execute. If you're still being pulled along by the wave, think relaxed arms and continued being pulled along, with you body along the surface next to the paddle face. Don't reach down and injure yourself. If you're no longer being dragged, nudge yourself up.
  • Options
    2 primary paddles on each trip
    That way if one breaks I am not using a paddle I do not enjoy using.
  • Good advice - thanks
    Not sure when I'll have a moment to practice this coming up - things are a bit distracted at home and will stay that way for a while - but I'll try and hang onto these notes.

    One thing I didn't highlight in the above replies is that I have had to overcome pretty strong claustrophobia when upside down in a boast to get to the roll. So each step, including staying calm while being flushed by white stuff, takes more repetition for me to get by than others.

    It's a bore, but I have found that if I just stay at it I eventually can drill by these moments.
  • It's easy with a GP and...
    ...Greenland style deck rigging. That means getting rid of the nearly useless bungee cords that come on most boats and installing cords and sliders. They will hold the paddle very securely, yet you can release it in a heartbeat.Mine has been pounded many times in surf and it's never come loose. However, grabbing it off the foredeck is a simple matter of pushing it forward out from under the cords, then back to release it from the bow loop. It takes about a second and I've done it a couple of times when I've been whacked hard enough to have my primary paddle torn from my grasp. It was no problem at all to do it under water.

    There are two important keys to making any spare paddle system work:

    1- The paddle must ALWAYS be in the same place, so you can find it by feel.

    2- You have to practice using it, so that when you need to grab it, you'll do so without having to think about it.
  • My take...
    I have not read the other responses, but imagine that there are others who feel the same...

    I choose to take a high quality paddle of a different size or variety with me so that I can swap out paddles if i choose to.

    I own a big blade Ikelos, and a smaller blade Cyprus. I bring both with me so that i can "change gears" if I choose

    Or, I will bring a GP with me for a change.

    And sometimes...I will also bring a storm paddle for the front deck if I am paddling in conditions where I need immediate access to a spare if I drop my primary and or it is ripped out of my hands in surf, etc. The storm paddle is immediately able to be put into use, and can be retrieved while upside down under water too.

  • my spare is the same as my main paddle
    Because if I have to use it chances are it'll become my main paddle.
  • 2 (thats 2) primary paddles
    -- Last Updated: Feb-18-13 2:01 PM EST --

    Last May I went on a paddle with a local club on a long flat water river. Because of good weather the power boats came out a few weeks early. The wake from one threw my weight onto the blade while I was slightly bracing for stability getting out of my kayak. The Aleutian paddle cracked under the stress, with a long and deep longitudinal crack. NO one in the group, including me, had brought a spare paddle even though we all know better.

    I had to paddle a few miles back to the launch with the paddle blade oriented backwards, so the water pressure closed the crack. Paddling in proper orientation (ridge on power face) would have finished breaking the paddle. The stress in my forearms after paddling to the launch with the Aleution paddle held backwards convinced me that those who are advocating that orientation are wrong.

    I have repaired the broken paddle and now ALWAYS carry a spare.


  • type of water
    makes a big difference. For WW, for example, I keep my spare in my boat behind the seat. And the spare is a set of hands paddles. If I broke a paddle (not hard to do in WW) then I would paddle a single blade until I could catch an eddy. If I had to swim and lost my paddle I would take out the hands paddles after I had made it to shore.
  • Same here in WW
    Completely different approach to the spare, mine for WW is a 4 part that would not be very practical to assemble while bouncing down the river regardless of how easy it'd be to get the parts out from under the air bags.

    But it is a very different thing to be without a paddle a mile offshore and being blown further...
  • Options
    it is very realistic
    When you roll you are only using 1 blade, so having only one blade is not a hinderance.
  • broken paddle
    I have only broken a paddle once, but it was a unique situation and the spare storm on the front deck was key.

    I broke my paddle on the bottom in clapotis over a sandbar. I tried rolling up but had no lift. I had not realized that I broke my paddle. I was able to pull the storm paddle off the front deck and roll up and then paddle to shore where I could pull my spare Euro paddle from the back deck and continue the day and make the long paddle back to the car.

    So there is a good case for a good spare and potentially a spare storm in addition.

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