Advice on paddles and PFDs

Situation–Dad of three (ages 8, 11 and 13) in mid-life crisis passes up on Mistress option and instead buys a Helios 380 EX to learn more about paddling and to teach paddling to/bond with kids. Dad knows little about said sport having only done sporadic canoeing and simple sea-kayaking. Dad blows most of his money on previously detailed inflatable.

Dad plans to go on mostly flatwater, slow rivers or easy calm ocean (by the beach at low tide). Next year Dad hopes to do a few Class I or easy Class II rapids with the kids.

First question–What does Dad do about paddles? Should he go for cheap paddles (Sevylor, LL. Bean Daytrippers, Carlise) with the idea that he will get bette paddles next year? Does he need to get a special kid’s paddle (lightwieght/thin shaft) for the kids. Or does he buy a nice 4-piece paddle for him (to take on plane trips) and a plastic piece of *$% for the kids at Walmart?

Second question–PFD’s. Dad does not want to drown kids as this would aggrevate wife. Dad thinks that he should get them Type I or Type II PFDs for kids instead of Type III, even though they might be less comfortable. Good decision? Or will the kids be uncomfortable and hate paddling and there hate Dad and end up pregnant/hooked on herion in high school?

Any advice would be helpful. Dad is beginning to think Mistress option would have been cheaper and less complicated!

I’ll swap 4 PFDs for the mistress.

Mistress too expensive in the end
If you don’t spend the money for good/best life jackets, and make the kids understand why they need them, the life insurance money you get on the kid you lose, could pay for the mistress you will need when the wife leaves.

All joking aside, if you value your kids as I did/do mine, buy the best life jackets you can get. This will help you keep the kids and the wife! :slight_smile:

Advice from a divorced childless guy

– Last Updated: Aug-05-04 4:15 PM EST –

1. Buy type III PFD's. If he expects the kids to take up paddling, they need to be reasonably comfortable while on the water.
2. He needs to WEAR his PFD while on the water. Set a good example. Will your kids wear seat belts if you don't set a good example? Will they wear bike helmets if you don't wear yours?
3. Don't over do the paddles for children. Most kids are not going to grab a stick and crank out 60 beats per minute for a couple of hours. One caveat though: Many cheap paddles have grips that are shaped poorly for small hands. An inexpensive wood paddle can be easily customized with a rasp, sandpaper and boilde linseed oil to fit theit hands.

End of sermon.


PS: Check Seda Products for inexpensive PFD's sized for smaller folks.

my .02

– Last Updated: Aug-05-04 4:27 PM EST –

Get comfortable type III PFDs if the kids are already decent swimmers. If they're not comfortable -- or more important, if they look like what dorks wear insted of what cool kayakers wear -- they won't want to wear them.

Do get/make/modify paddles that fit the kids. I've seen too many kids and petite adults get frustrated fighting with oversized gear.

Here's one:

I like your logic!
“If you don’t spend the money for good/best life jackets, and make the kids understand why they need them, the life insurance money you get on the kid you lose, could pay for the mistress you will need when the wife leaves.”

I could have never worked that out on my own!

Seriously, I do want to get good life vests. Type III is actually more expensive then type I or II (as far as I can tell), but they don’t have as much flotation and will not necessary keep a child “face up”. The expense is probably due to the costs of fitting for comfort.

Type I is for open-ocean and will keep them afloat for days. The extra-floatation though may make it impossible for my kids to swim if there is any current at all. Plus it may make it difficult for them to paddle.

Type II offers the best mix of floatation (heads-up) and wearability.

Thats what I’ve figured out so far–but I may have it all screwed up. Like I said–mid-life crisis!

The mistress is not less expensive!!!

– Last Updated: Aug-05-04 4:31 PM EST –

Trust me on this. Get type 3 pfds for the kids. There is a company that sells wood paddles for the kids pretty cheap. Here is a link
Get yourself a nice 4 piece paddle. When I travel my kayak goes with me 98% of the time. Feathercraft makes decent 4 piece paddles. There is a company in California closing out his Feathercraft stock Peter may be able to give you a deal. Aquabound, Swift and Werner also make 4 piece paddles. You may want to check out bagboateron yahoo groups
There are few inflatable users. I used to have a Helios 380. It is a really good inflatable.

In addition
Try and buy used.

Bidding on the Harmony Whisper on Ebay…
…175 cm for my kids. They also have a 150 cm that I might go if I get outbid.

What size paddle should I get? (I’m 5’11")

I suppose I should be looking at rec or touring paddles rather than WW.

type III pfds
are the way to go for comfort. I have found the paddle is less imortant when they are young. make sure the pfd’s fit properly, and let them test em.

I would go with a 215cm
maybe even a 210. And I would start with a smaller,narrower blade. A lot less fatiguing and you are not going to have a fast hull speed anyway so my reasoning is “Why overdo it.” Depending on his/her size, the oldest may want a longer paddle, but a 175 should suffice until she gets real into paddling. My honest opinion. I am Tsunamichuck and I take full responsibility for this message.

Thanks for advice and ebay alert
I actually ended up buying three Harmony paddles on e-bay.

For the kids, I bought a 150 cm Harmony kid’s paddle for $1.25 and a 175 cm Harmony kid’s paddle for $1.75. (With shipping the total was about $26.

I also bought a Harmony Touring paddle for $40, including shipping. While I agreed with Tsunamichuck that a smaller narrower blade would be better for me when I am soloing, the larger blade will probably help when I start out as I will probably be doing most of the paddling for both myself and said kids.

(Plus the only alternative on e-bay when I was bidding was a 240 cm Rec Paddle and I was afraid that might be a bit long).

I’lll probably get a 4-piece breakdown Rec paddle for myself before next Spring and give the touring paddle to my wife.

Thanks all for the help! Now I move on to PFDs!

Possible Flaw in Logic
How do you know they will want to do this? Heading into teen years, dad becomes less desirable bonding material and more desirable as a money vending machine and cab driver. Perhaps getting the dog a pfd would be a more certain investment?

Okay, it’s been a long week, but there’s a cold beer in the fridge. If I can make it home past the (NYC) machine gun bearing police, and tomorrow, a nice paddle.


Good job

– Last Updated: Aug-08-04 10:38 PM EST –

Getting those paddles. You got a great deal. Glad I could help. Save your $ and get yourself a really nice 4 piece paddle for travel. Try as many paddles as you can. I think you will really like a narrow paddle blade.