An easier paddle float entry.

Lots of kayaks are equipped with bungie cords just behind the cockpit. These are almost useless for holding the paddle in a paddle float entry. Replace the bungies with nylon straps and adjustable buckles. When the paddle is inserted and the straps tightened, the paddle becomes a very secure brace. Don’t release the buckles, just slide the paddle blade out. Leaving the straps like this makes sure that everything is just right for the next time.

That’s why I use a Rescue Sling…

– Last Updated: Mar-12-08 12:57 PM EST –

to hold the paddle against the hull.

Also provides a stirrup to help with mounting your 'yak.

It also puts a LOT more strain…
…on your paddle, which is one reason that slings are a BAD idea.

Another reason is that they encourage the worst possible technique, which is coming out of the water vertically. In a paddle float rescue - or an assisted rescue - you want to be at the surface in the prone position before trying to re-enter, NOT hanging vertically in the water.

And if you need another reason, what are you going to do if you foot slips through the sling?

Keep in mind that you’re likely to be doing all this in rough water, not on a calm pond. These silly gadgets that seem perfectly reasonable in benign conditions are potentially hazardous when it’s rough. Moreover, if you’re dependent on them and they don’t work in the conditions, you’re screwed.

Learn to do rescues properly. There are reasons why the standard techniques have become “standard”.

rescue techniques…
So what are the “standard techniques?” From my experience, if you are in rough conditions, any self rescue option will be difficult. I’ve learned a few self rescue methods in calm waters…paddle float technique and I just hold the paddle against the back of the cockpit and jump up on the kayak…or the rodeo technique, which is basically worthless unless you are on flat water, but otherwise, I can’t imagine trying either of these techniques in rough conditions. Ideally, if you are going to be paddling in rough conditions you will have a confident roll the save yourself…otherwise, it seems to me that it would be wise to be paddling with someone else. At least for me, rough condition rescues, once you’ve come out of the boat, are much more feasible with another kayak around. When I am referring to rough conditions, I am thinking like choppy 3-5ft waves.

where’s the link…
to BNystrom approved techniques?

All kidding aside though. Different strokes and all that.

I’m not small (220 #), but I have never damaged a paddle shaft using a sling during practice. You are only vertical for a moment as you swing your free leg up and lay out horizontally. At least that’s how I do it.

Have only paddle float rescued in practice and haven’t needed it (yet) in a real situation. So YOU ARE RIGHT (knick knack paddy wack…) about real vs. practice applications. But options are good when the rescuing gets REAL and it is best to have as many options as possible.

Obviously the best rescue technique of all is not to need rescuing! However, demanding that paddlers never capsize is not enforceable - Gravity is a law from which there is no appeal.

Perhaps when I capsize in rough water and miss my roll, I should wet exit and wait quietly to drown because my technique is not “standard” enough?

BNystrom is right on…
The standard rescues are standard because they work.

Gadgets and gimmicks often fail in real life situations.

reinventing the wheel?
A number of kayak manufacturers (e.g. Seaward) include this very system on their boats. That’s like that John what’s-his-name guy out of Chicago submitting paddle tubes to Sea Kayaker Magazine as his own invention. Only problem? People had been using them for years.

You’re right…
…most self-rescue techniques are essentially worthless in rough water, which is why:

  • One shouldn’t be out on rough water if one can’t roll.

  • One shouldn’t be out on rough water alone.

  • Wet exiting should be a last resort, not an immediate response to a capsize.

    Of the available options for solo, non-rollers, about the only one I’ve found to work reasonably well in rough water is the paddle float assisted re-enter and roll. It will get you back in your boat, but you’ll be less stable as your cockpit will be flooded. The paddle float can help you stabilize yourself, but you can’t paddle effectively with it on the paddle.

    I guess the bottom line is that there are no really good options for solo paddlers who can’t roll, so the best defense is to use one’s head and avoid putting oneself in such situations.

R & R

– Last Updated: Mar-14-08 9:30 AM EST –

Every seasoned paddler I know agrees that if you should ever be out of your boat (in any conditions) the reentry and roll are what you would use. Try to learn to roll and learn the reentry and roll. You can also do it with a paddle float if necessary.

I've seen paddlers who can roll come out of their boat due to a mouth full of water - gagging or a current really screws up their roll. Or total confusion and some panic underwater etc.

Many kayak manufacturers are now paying attention to paddle float re-entries by having the web straps behind the cockpit and some like Impex and others now have a paddle indentation behind the cockpit.

That’s how I see it
On the rare occasions where I find myself in conditions that I find rough, I ask myself what I think my chances are of a successful self rescue. Other than “swim to shore” (I stay near shore), my answer is always “pretty slim”. I will follow Brian’s advice until the day comes that I have a reliable combat roll for different trouble situations.


I’ve got that system
on my W/S T-170 and it works just fine–much better than the bungee straps—you can order the straps from Frontenac Outfitters in Ontario–but dont stop practicing your roll et al.–good to have more than one means of self-rescue

the sling is handy!
I carry one and have used one a few times. They are great to use on people who haven’t kayaked a lot and haven’t practiced rescues. For example, you are out with friends on a calm day. A boat passes and the wake capsizes your friend. You execute a perfect assisted rescue up to the point of getting your friend back in their kayak. Then you find out they don’t have the strength or coordination to get back in on their own. So you pull out the sling and they get back in and off you go. Granted I don’t use tis often, but it is nice to have.

As far as what rescues work well. The assisted rescue is the best if you haven’t learned how to roll. Practice it often with lots of variations - including both paddlers in the water. Then learn how to roll a kayak - it isn’t hard. Then ‘learn’ how to re-enter and roll - it isn’t harder than rolling. Then practice lots and keep practicing.

bungees, stirrups
I think we all can agree on having as many options as possible and building skills towards that. Where we seem to differ is the priorities we put on the techniques.

Kinda surprised that anyone would rely on bungee cords for rescues - bungees stretch, and how is that good in keeping the paddle secure and at right angles to the stern?

Decklines seem better suited - and I realize many rec and transitional boats have little or no decklines. That may be why bungees are the alternative.

I also like just holding the paddle snug to the coaming. Since I am short it makes the vault onto the stern easier and sets me up much closer to the cockpit for the body twist into the boat.

About rescue stirrups: having been to just a few symposia and a few classes (freshwater and pool) which covered rescues I recall the stirrup was never used, demonstrated or rarely mentioned.

The instructors who mentioned it said that when taking a group out the stirrup was useful in assisting people who were overweight, exhausted, or not very agile in getting back into their boat, esp. when it was clear they could not achieve this in traditional ways.

They didn’t say this in a ridiculing way, just as another matter of fact preparation for a group paddle that a good guide or instructor should have.

In terms of a solo paddler in my own opinion a knowledge of conditions is best before venturing out. Once out there, the roll is best, the re-enter and roll next best, and the traditional self rescues following from there.

For me the stirrup is a least favored alternative due to possible entanglement. However, if another paddler feels the rewards outweigh that risk, that would be their decision and I would neither ridicule nor judge them for it. It’s more important to get back in the boat and get back safe.

Great discussion here
Althought I paddled for 20 years before I decided to learn to roll, I now rarely carry a paddle float. I have both, a solid foam one and a blow-up one. If I do bring one, it is more for someone else to use, or for another use like a pillow! As for the stirrup, I have practiced with it, don’t need it, but have used one for someone else when all other forms of rescue failed. You don’t want the details…

The point I wanted to make is that you practice and use all these tools, but if mother nature throws you a curve… they may not work. Especially if someone is injured. As for a stirrup… do not go out and buy one. The stardard nylon web tie-down with spring release cam buckle make an excellent rescue stirrup. Put the buckle down, in the water to keep from floating and adjust to the length you need.

Use it to tie down your boat when you are done.

In my opinion, it is more important to learn how not to roll (over), before you learn to roll (back up).

Learning priorities
"In my opinion, it is more important to learn how not to roll (over), before you learn to roll (back up)."

And how exactly does one do that?

Something seems off in that logic to me. It’s a heck of a lot easier to avoid the former if you can do the latter.

Rolling ability makes you much less likely to go over in the first place. It does wonders for your balance and control (and comfort with all angles of heel so waves and wakes become fun).

If it comes to needing to brace - few really learn decent deep bracing before they can roll (pretty much same thing - and hard to practice these braces with no roll up capability to recover from missed braces).

This stuff is the biggest (and least advertised)reason to learn to roll - and one of the top reasons to consider it a beginner skill and not put it off.


– Last Updated: Mar-15-08 11:05 AM EST –

the majority of the rambling on this thread are wasted thoughts. Many things work in calm conditions that will not work in moderate conditions.

It would be reasonable to say that the majority of paddlers do not paddle on the ocean or the Great Lakes. It would therefore also be reasonable to say that the majority of paddlers will not paddle in moderate sea conditions.

I think it in good practice to applaud people for using techniques that work for them in the conditions that they normally paddle in. Then I would mention that their technique would not work in moderate conditions, or where some of us others choose to do our paddling.