Avoiding separation from kayak

Consider a wrist leash
Less line and still lets you have a free hand as needed. Most will wrap around the shaft unobtrusively buit deploy easily when needed.

Most important though, practice hanging onto that paddle.

safety line - no
in this context I take it to mean you are using a line (a painter) to tether your boat to you and the line-wrapped paddle - and swimming for it.

Bad idea unless it’s a last resort - e.g. you can’t get back in your boat. Even then, boosting yourself on the overturned boat and signalling for help (there are myriad ways depending what waters you paddle) can be a better option, depending on the distance to shore, the temperature of the water, etc.

Swimming in the waves that probably caused the capsize in the first place means you are in proximity to your boat, a heavy object that can rocket on a wave and injure a paddler, or knock them out. Read a few chapters from “SeaKayaker: Deep Trouble” by George Gronseth and Matt Broze for examples of people whose probable cause of death was just that.

Swimming a boat in is much slower and a much poorer use of energy reserves than getting back in the boat.

If you are in cold water you will tire even faster and your vital organs will chill faster. You need to get OUT of the water ASAP and get underway.

Learning how to swim w. a paddle is worth doing if the shoreline is near. Prioritize your life over the boat.

As for the paddle, if you are swimming the boat in, why not just secure it in the decklines?

The best option, besides your overall good judgement, is not a safety line but a safe, solid rescue, solo or assisted.

in flat water
you’ll not need a paddle leash of any sort.

It’s very natural as a beginner to take it slow and learn on flat water. I did, as did many others. I practice new skills on flat water. It’s no badge of shame. We all start from there. We all keep learning.

On flat water, if you drop your paddle, it either lands with a plop next to your boat, or you use your two hands to paddle your boat to it. No sarcasm intended.

Or you can carry a spare on the foredeck and use that to retrieve your paddle.

Or you paddle w. others - who either can get your paddle for you or loan you their spare - generally a good way for beginners to achieve a comfort level. And learn about boats, gear and technique, too.

Kudos to you for wanting to take a rescues class, learn to wet exit and do rescues. Your head is in the right place :smiley:

On the paddle leash band wagon
I have one stowed away and really only have used it when i’m taking pictures in calm conditions or am eating lunch while on the water etc. . I always have my spare paddle within reach just in case though. The whole getting tangled thing freaks me out a bit too.

Don’t delay learning to roll. It takes a bit of learning, usually 1-3 lessons, but it is not hard and does not require much athleticism. Too many kayakers neglect to learn this critical skill, for no good reason. I’ve seen male and female rollers, 80 to 300+ lbs, klutzes to superathletes, 10 to 70+ years old. Some have almost no other kayaking skills. It’s just not that big a deal to learn the best way to be safe.

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I have one
but never leashed to my paddle. When I take pix, eat lunch, etc. on the water, I just stow the paddle in my deck lines w. the blade closest to me under a bungee.

I’ve used my paddle leash a handful of times in four years - mainly to tie up the boat when it can’t be beached out of the water (rivers and calm inland lakes) or to use as a painter when lining the boat in shallow rivers.

Don’t count on 1-3 lessons

– Last Updated: Aug-06-10 10:58 AM EST –

I just have to insert this for the sake of those like me who may take a much longer time to get a roll - way more than 1-3 lessons. This is because I've seen people who had heard this kind of number, and gave up completely on learning to roll just because they didn't get it in a few lessons. There can be a lot of things that come into play once you are upside down under a boat, and until you actually do it there's no sure way to figure out how it'll go for you.

Also, a lot of folks (including myself) who recommend to go for a roll early on are people who themselves didn't go for it until they'd been paddling a bit. So some of the basic familiarity with how the paddle feels in the water as it takes a bite was further along than it would be for someone who just started paddling. I still agree with the start early idea, but the learning can be different for new paddlers/new rollers than for old paddlers/new rollers.

Bottom line is that if you stay the course and keep working at it, you WILL get a roll. I'd just suggest you not add a timer to your goals - when you get it you get it, and if it takes a while you'll learn other good things along the way.

Boat leashes
If you ever get into surfskis, you may want to consider a leash to your boat then. Otherwise your boat may end up 600 miles away from you.


that was also linked here from paddling.net

actually that could have happened w. any kayak.

surfskis don’t have the rigging a full-on seakayak does, so really no realistic way to stow a paddle. So a paddle leash makes sense for them. Same thing w. surfboards and SUP boards - in their case an ankle leash.

The surfskiers I see out here in the Midwest are all on mostly flatwater anyway so if they lose their paddle it’s easy to retrieve. but for stowing their paddles a leash makes sense.

Add me to the no leash crowd
I really don’t like having anything tethered to me, be it paddle or boat.

One suggestion is to work on getting comfortable hanging upside down in your boat. It’s a lot easier to think about holding on to your boat and paddle when you punch out if you’re doing it in a controlled and relatively relaxed manner. It also helps a lot once you start learning to roll.

Paddle leash myth

– Last Updated: Aug-07-10 7:00 PM EST –

the best rough water video I have ever seen is this:


And they use and endorse the paddle leash. I think the entanglement thing is over-played. I have never actually read about an actual incident with paddle leash entanglement. I personally don't use one because I like the freedom of the paddle and don't worry about staying with my boat. But if someone likes the idea, I don't think there's any actual stats that it's dangerous. Plus the ones I have seen are usually made of stretchy, coiled line like a telephone cord or bungee.

I was on a lake for our usual weekly practice paddles with a club and one person was doing a reentry and roll and let go of the boat and with a 15 mph wind, that boat sailed away out of swimming reach fast. It can happen.

the proper way to avoid seperation
is to learn to roll…

arguments about dumping surf, conditions, etc… and rolling performance have abounded on pnet…rolls can be made 100% effective and are the easiest capsize recovery there is … fast with little exertion… it would be easier to roll with your shoulder separated than it would be to try and crawl back in the boat…

you got to exit anyway when you come in on dumping surf… so if it’s not so graceful… so what… you can pickup the paddle and kayak up later…

conditions… if I have got myself into conditions that I can’t roll…(i can’t imagine what, really I can’t) I have a lot more to worry about than my paddle and kayak getting away… stuff like if the rescue helicopter rotor wash is messing up my hair.

Great white attack? Ask Duane…

whitewater kayaking is a totally different sport …although they minimize risk… they still RISK.

It is understood that if the kayak is wedged capsized between a rock and a hard place… the pilot will most likely eject… White water is a totally different animal…

I liked a leash when I used to fish from the kayak…

two things
Audrey Sutherland, who used to solo paddle the coast of Alaska in an inflatable,attached the boat to her person by a looped line around her shoulder because if she fell out, it was gone. I would consider doing the same if paddling alone on wide water in wind. I wear a knife on my PFD to deal with entanglement if that should occur. I agree that a roll is the first line of defense – but I remember what the guy said: If you think you have a bombproof roll, you just haven’t run into a big enough bomb yet.

G in NC

around the shoulder
is the last place I’d want a tether.

Great way to a shoulder injury.

Paddler like Jon Turk and Chris Duff tethered themselves to their boats by their waists. that way both their arms were free and if need be they could easily cut the tether.

Expeditions solo on open water are one thing but most of us are not paddling anywhere near those conditions.

If someone wants the reassurance of a paddle leash, or feels better tethered to their boat (the original source of this thread) of course, do it.

I’m still unconvinced of the need but I only make decisions for myself :smiley:

YMMV as they say.

I recently spent 10 weeks in the Firth of Clyde (Scotland) and eventually capsized early October due to high winds, 2m swell and a 5m increase in the tidal surge from N Atlantic. I was 100m offshore and would never ever consider tethering myself. I have a Riot 12 Enduro and loaded up with tent, food shore clothes etc, deck bags fore and aft. I made my way to the stern and holding my paddle in my right hand, held onto the handle and breast stroked with my legs towards the shore, aided by the waves and wind of course. The cockpit being full of water stabilised the kayak. The Clyde fjord has mostly a rocky shore and a helmet and long Gill boots a must, covered with he outer leggings of my dry suit. One must simply go with the flow and remain calm. I have lines for mooring bow and stern and if I had been further out to sea, I would have tethered myself to my pfd. This time I was essentially heading for the beach and not being sent out to sea. Stay safe system.

Here in Scotland, I use a dry suit all year round. Late summer/early autumn thermals a must, with a neoprene hood under my helmet. The water in the Irish Sea/N Atlantic/ Firth of Clyde tends to be around 6’C.

Welcome to the community. There’s an interesting discussion on tethering here:

Yes, and keeping in mind that swim distance calculation needs to be tempered by the effects of tide, current and wind, all of which can (and will) reverse on schedule or without warning.

I have separation anxiety if I don’t kayak after 8 days.

Just treat it well and buy flowers for it every once in a while. :wink: