Canoe Paddle Float for Self Rescue?

Hi, Wondering if there is a practical way to use a paddle float on a canoe paddle to assist in reboarding for self-rescue? Couldn’t find any like info on msg board or web search. Without the length of a yak paddle and yak deck rigging, wonding if the paddle shaft could be strapped/velcro looped to a thwart and help as an outrigger when reboarding? Thanks and happy, safe paddling in the new year. Ricknriver on the Pamlico

paddle float for canoe
You’ve got it. The key is a quick, sure way to secure the shaft to the thwart. I have two velcro on nylon web straps.

Appreciate the confirmation of my thoughts and your application. Safe paddlin’ :-).

Canoe rescues
In a world with twice the population it can support, the entire concept of rescues is questionable. Humans should also eschew seat belts, bike helmets and protection when climbing, but, as paddlers tend to vote green…

Certainly, a tandem pair can, by staying on opposite sides, stabilize the canoe so one can clamber back in.

A second solo paddler can invert the swimmer’s hull across his own and then paddle brace the hull as the swimmer climbs back aboard.

A sling to provide a step up is a great help, particularly for out of shape individuals.

But the solo solo paddler has to have a plan. Many who exercise, including push aways from table, are able to do a Capistrano flip, then load the far rail with enough weight to slip into an intimate solo. That becomes harder as wind and waves increase and is impossible for many. [A couple years ago, we figured about half of the ACA canoe ITEs would be able to do it.]

That’s where a paddlefloat on a paddle strapped to the rear thwart comes in. One can even wrap a strap under the hull and around the paddle shaft, or forgo loading the opposite side and drop a short strap from the rear thwart itself.

The key to rescue is to have a plan that is practiced prior to the need for the skill presenting itself. This is particularly true for soloists who paddle alone. Get a plan, practice it until it works.

solo solo rescue
"In a world with twice the population it can support, the entire concept of rescues is questionable."


I will try a paddle float re-entry for my canoe. Up until now, nothing I tried would work for me.

This past summer up by the ‘Soo’ in Canada I capsized my decked sailing canoe (Bell Northwind hull) while under sail. With the mast firmly stuck in the bottom mud there was no way out except to pull the boat loose and break the mast.

This led me to wonder how, in more open waters (like Lake Erie), I’d have fared. I’m not sure, in wind and waves, that I could have boarded the canoe, stabilized it and bailed it out. I am fairly certain that a canoe over canoe rescue would also be impossible.

I came across a web site about Sea Wings sponsons. The author was a bit nutty, but a reputable company makes them, Harmony. Apparently they can be attached to the sides of the boat, deflated and kept relatively flat against the hull while paddling/sailing, then mouth inflated (I’d prefer CO2 cartridge) after a capsize.

I haven’t bought them yet but am seriously considering them. It would require moving from one side of the craft to the other side while in the water to inflate them which is not the best thing as the canoe might just get away in the wind. But once inflated, they would provide (I think) the stability from which to deal with errant gear, bailing, getting confidence back and continuing.

Anyone have a familiarity with these or a considered opinion about them?



A Question for Charlie W:
I have performed the paddle float rescue with my touring kayak but have not attempted one in my Magic. I was wondering:

Does a single-bladed paddle offer sufficient leverage to allow entry to a solo canoe, or will a double-bladed stick be needed?

As an endomorph paddling a high-volume touring kayak I find it beneficial to use a sling to get my mass over the hull. Can you ectomorphs vault into the semi-dry hull of a solo without the aid of a sling?

How many hours (or days) will it take to bail a Magic that is floating with the gunwales awash?


About 141 gallons to bail, maybe
According to my calculations (with great room for error), a Bell Magic will hold approximately 141 gallons of water.

After that, I guess it depends on how fast you can bail–assuming no more water comes in.

Method: According to Bell, the Magic can carry a 650 lb load with 6" of freeboard remaining. That’s equal to about 81 gallons of water, so presumably if you poured 81 gallons of water into the Magic then it would end up floating with 6" of freeboard.

The boat is roughly 16’ by 24", so for rough purposes, you can calculate the volume remaining as 4 triangles 8’ (96") long by 12" wide by 6" deep. So the formula is:

4 x 1/2(96126)= 13824 cubic inches

That’s equal to about 60 gallons.

So adding those numbers together I get 141 gallons, or 1128 lbs of water. That actually seems a little low to me, so maybe I’ve done something wrong.

if your gear is in the boat
water volume is less.

Most likely your boat will not entirely be swamped.

My friends and I have practiced a double blade with stirrup rentry with a solo boat. The best bailer of course is a kayak pump. But its really hard to fill a boat entirely. The only way you can really do that is to do a controlled capsize.

The float does allow enough stability to start pumping with the kayak pump as you stand on the stirrup. There isnt any rush to get in; water leads to instability and ejection out the other side…

how embarrassing…how many have self ejected after climbing in a yak with a paddle float then thrown the weight too far over…:wink:

I think out of the 100 boat over boat rescues I do each year (teaching), only one is swamped.

My considered opinion is, they will work
on some boats, for some people, in some circumstances, and you appear to be a likely benificiary. The sponson “problem” is the tendency for the designer to insist sponsons are best for everyone.

A sailing canoe should at least have outriggers.

I made one from two paddle floats and a 240 cm kayak paddle. We couldn’t tip our canoe over no matter what.