Can you reach your spare when rear deck?

Preferences, taste, and aesthetics competely aside, do folks who have their spare paddles located on the rear deck know for sure they can get to them 100% of the time in rough conditions (winds over 20 mph, waves over 3 feet, current, etc.) and

WITHOUT capsizing or taking a long time, say over 15 seconds?

I have my doubts but in good faith, I would really like to know how you have them rigged so you can accomplish it. Reason for question is that although I have mine rigged on front deck, I totally understand many folks not wanting them on the front deck for multiple reasons. I am concerned as an instructor/leader etc. that folks are often deluding themselves about the utility of their spare paddle rigging.


Mine is on the rear.
I am not planning on loosing my regular one in conditions that you describe, unless I capsize and the yak and I go one way and the paddle another way, in which case I would be in the water and would be able to get the spare anyway.

The main reason I bring a spare is in case my main one broke, or what I describe above.



spare paddle spot
I always assumed the spare belonged on the rear deck until I read some of the posts this week on After thinking about it, there’s no way I could remove a paddle off the rear deck without nearly capsizing. If I was capsized and needed to grab a blade to roll with, it would have to come from the front deck. I just got back from Home Depot with the tubes necessary to hold the blades on the front deck.

front deck…but. .
I always have my spares on the front deck. I’ve found it easier to get at them. I’ve had one situation such as you describe when I needed them for another paddler. But I know there are people who are pretty competent at getting them off the back deck, but it involves some funky contortions. Especially from the “inverted” position.

I personally can’t so my spare is always on my foredeck where I can keep an eye on it and where I can grab it to roll in case I lose my paddle and capsize.

If wind and wave bothers you…

– Last Updated: Mar-31-06 2:06 PM EST –

.. while trying to get your spare, just capsize and mess with it in the calm waters below, then roll back up!

You should not need to SEE your spare to grab it. Just reach back behind you. If you can't do that blind - with one hand upright or inverted - you have some outfitting to take care of and some stuff to practice.

Two piece paddles double the potential complications - hence the advice to practice paddling and rolling with one half.

After switching to GP - I keep my spare up front. Back works fine too. I can reach it easy enough either way. But I a bit easier up front and can keep track of it up front. I don't need to see it to retrieve it - but it's nice to know where it is. Paddles can get knocked loose and slide out of reach or off completely. The time to notice this is not when you need the spare.

This thread reminds me how spoiled I've become using GPs. Make a lot of things simpler/faster/easier.

Paddle leash
Keep the daddle on the rear deck, with a second paddle leash attached to it, the leash is then clipped/velcro’d within easy reach of the paddler. pull on the leash and the paddle comes to you, you don’t have to go to the paddle.

Carried split euro on rear deck…
…last year. I’ll be carrying a storm or full-length GP on fore deck this year for reasons mentioned. I guess if I had either an Aleut single blade or a longer boat, I might be tempted to keep the spare on the rear deck and learn a forward finishing roll. That way, I’d just lay back, grab the paddle and finish the roll on the fore deck. Wouldn’t that look sexy? Of course then I’ve got to stow it again after I’ve retrieved my primary…that could be a bit involved from the water, in conditions.


I Don’t Know
This is a subject that I have been giving some thought to during the past month. I have my spare paddle and I have some mounting hardware to make a home for it. However, I am not decided where I am going to keep it. I really don’t want it on my fore deck. I likely will have to squirm and fiddle to reach it off the back deck. In three foot plus seas and 20knots plus of wind chances are good that without a paddle Id be over before getting the spare out from either place.

Maybe I am half way between JackL and Greyak. I will plan on not needing a spare and will practice getting it out while rolled. Still thinking.

Happy Paddling,


Front or back?
As others have stated, it can be difficult or impossible to grab the paddle from the rear deck. Also seems like having the paddle halves on the rear will unnecessarily clutter and complicate a self-rescue or other aft-deck antics.

Conversely, a paddle stowed on the foredeck is obviously easier to grab, but might potentially cause snags during a TX rescue. What are the other downsides?

That’s why I switched it to the front
I sat in the kayak, experimented, and found out how much easier it was to access a bow-stashed spare.

Front deck
I keep my spare on the front deck but have no delusions about being able to get it and staying upright 100% of the time in the conditions you describe. … but I’ll keep working on it.

I think less skilled paddlers (like myself) may weigh the risks/benefits of a paddle leash differently than more skilled/experienced paddlers. I may opt to use a leash more because I know my limitations in getting to my spare and rolling with half. Probably a whole other thread in reasons beginners and intermediates maybe shouldn’t necessarily make the same gear choices as advanced paddlers.

The paddle is far enough forward it doesn’t interfere with T rescues. On the rear deck it is much more likely to interfere – if I’m the rescuee!

allot of interesting replies!
Thanks all, a number of things said I had not thought of before. Interesting indeed different gear choices made by different levels.

Of course there as Paul Petzol was fond of saying (loose quotation),

We have allot of very experienced folks advocating things they have done wrong for 39 years. Older is not always wiser.

So maybe beginners might think twice of using paddle leashes, lest they find themselves entangled and experts may be rethink their spare paddle placements, at least I will try to stay open to things anyhow.

Front deck
if conditions warrant me thinking I may actually need my spare. I think it was the BCU 5star training where they made us throw away our paddles, capsize, put a spare paddle together, roll up, and retreived the paddle we first thru away. Good wet fun.

If its calm, spare is on the back deck.

3/4 inch webbing and a fastex
buckle ofr the blade on tho opposite side of the deck from the day hatch. Last Season I could release and roll no worries. I have not been out in way too long.

I am equally comfortable with the paddle on the back deck and on the foredeck. However, I have a short storm paddle and not a two piece blade. Reaching behind my back is not an issue as I only have to grasp a 3 1/2inch wooden blade and push for an inch to clear the line and then pull towards me. Same for the front.

I can’t imagine anymore having to put a paddle together in waves and storm conditions. If and when I get another Euro blade, it will be one piece.



– Last Updated: Apr-01-06 9:28 AM EST –

because you can take it apart, doesn't mean that you have can put a 2 piece paddle together and carry it that way. don't need to buy a 1 piece....nice to have 2 or 4 piece for car travel...this is also true for a two piece Greenland paddle....there is no law I know of that says you can't carry it on your boat , put together and ready to deploy but still be able to take it apart for air or car travel

Best Wishes

Switched from fastex to quick release
The fastex buckle was a little hard to operate with neo gloves in winter, so I switched to quick-release. Not as clean, as you have to leave a tail of webbing to grab, but much easier to access.

Rolling w/ 1/2 Euro paddle?
I’ve been thinking about this with my new Brit boat and “Euro” stick. Previously, I carried a BBK Storm paddle neatly on the back deck of my BBK Recluse and found it very very easy to reach behind and grab it. Heck, I even tried switching paddles once while underway in big Lake Superior seas and had no problems retrieving the Storm and stowing the Greenlander without even looking.

Now I’m trying to figure out the best way to handle this with my new equipment, so this thread is very interesting.

I’m still waiting for the ice to break up on Little Traverse Bay and for the water to warm up before trying this myself, but how easy or difficult is it to roll with only half of a Euro paddle? Is it really necessary to assemble it first?

I haven’t yet had the chance to roll my new boat (Avocet) with my new paddle (Werner Cascadia, bent shaft). Should be interesting the first time…


learn to handroll