Child paddling and hitting thumbs?

My dd just turned 6 last week, and decided yesterday that she was ready to take my 10.5 ft. Dagger Blackwater out on her own (with me in a nearby kayak). She did REALLY good, and we got a little distance in, but then her arms got tired and I had to tow her back in. The biggest problem she had is smashing her thumbs between the paddle and boat several times. Anything we can do to eliminate this problem or at least have less impact if it does happen in the future?

Disabled paddlers site
There is a site for disabled paddler which shows how to rig a set up that supports the paddle and the driver only need to dip the blade in the water and than pull.

That might help. Don’t know the complete name or URL for the site though.


Maybe a padded glove ?? …
… a lighter/thinner paddle ?? … a bit more elevation in the seat ?? … Spinich and or Cheerios too !!

I just couldn’t
Yes I can when, paddling you don’t hit their thumbs!!!

Huh Looney? What the heck are you saying? That when paddling you don’t hit your thumbs? Well yeah that may be true if you aren’t SIX years old and can hardly wrap your hand around the paddle.

Thanks to the rest, I’ll check out the disabled paddler, and maybe propping her up a bit will be a good idea as well. Buying a paddle more expensive than the one I paid $130 for right now is out of the question, so we’ll have to try a few cheaper options. Thanks again!!!

hitting her thumbs because at 6 years old…the boat is too wide for her. She will just have to slow down and pay attention to keeping her hands away from the hull.

They really don’t make much that fits a 6 year old properly…

there is really nothing much you can do about the thumbs , given the equiptment and her size…she will just have to change her stroke to acomidate the sore thumbs.

Sorry but the other answer would be to buy size appropriate equiptment for her

Best wishes


It was a joke reread your subject line.

Agree with fadered
That boat is too wide (and tall) for your daughter to be able to get a paddle into the water without hitting her thumb. A different paddle won’t solve the problem because your daughter’s height size will still leave her unable to clear the cockpit when she paddles. Making the seat higher would render the boat more unstable.

Different boat…

Thanks again!
yeah, another boat is probably the only solution, but one I was hoping to avoid.

Oh, and Looney, I was tongue in cheek as well, when I was replying to you, I didn’t get your punctuation,lol.

Agree, but there’s probably stability to spare with this boat/paddler combination. Building up the seat in steps is worth a try.

Then try the seat thing?
Though I mentioned the idea, I did so lightly because I couldn’t decide if it was a decent idea or a damned bad one. Thanks for the comeback.

the seat …will not make the boat any narrower…just gets you higher into the air.

Kayaking is usually done close to the water…canoeing tends to be the up in the air sport.

In effect saying to raise the seat to cure the problem for a 6 year old, is the same as saying that raising the seat in a 40 inch wide kayak would cure the problem for an adult…

The real problem is that the Kayak is just way to wide and tall in the deck for a 6 year old

need size apropriate equiptment…otherwise it’s the same old fix that the kayak industry tried to do for smaller framed people up until a couple of years ago when the LV’s started being made

Best Wishes


Not a cure
I think everyone here – including the original poster – realizes that raising the seat isn’t ideal, but it may improve things a bit until a better solution can be worked out.

I would think …
… given an adult size yak , the adult has x amount of height from butt to shoulder , so why would not that same height with a shorter youth raised up be a good idea , at least this would allow simular clearance from hands to boat , the paddle overall width is still the same only the child would grip it maybe closer , so what diff. would the yaks’ width come into consideration other than a lot of boat for a small 6 yr. old ?? … maybe there’s more about yaking that I don’t comprehend as I never have , I canoe …

If she stays motivated, she may learn
her way around the problem. I remember meeting a 9 year old who was already paddling a slalom c-1 very competently, although he was certainly not properly matched to the equipment. Years later, he paddled in the '96 Olympics, barefoot and sitting on a narrow wooden thwart that only the strongest motivation could make other than frightening and painful.

Doesn’t happen with all kids. My daughter, who had the physique to follow Cathy Hearn in slalom kayaking, always was a bit fussy about discomforts. She’s gotten better with age (30), but still needs some comfort measures when paddling. And I suppose I do too. Haven’t banged my thumb recently, but I hate it when that happens.

long as everyone realizes that raising the seat in a row boat doesn’t really make it actually fit you any better. it only changes some of the problems

Best Wishes


Seems so
I am guessing that you single blade in the canoe? Width of a kayak matters always in terms of making it easier for a good double blade stroke, just that by adult size a couple of inches is a much smaller relative diff than for a 6 yr old.

Kid’s kayaks

– Last Updated: Jun-04-08 9:29 PM EST –

If your budget allows it, you might want to be on the lookout for a used kid's kayak. There are a few possibilties -- Perception Acadia Scout, Perception Carolina 12XS(has also been called the Umiak and the Carolina 12.0), Wilderness Systems Piccolo, Ocean Kayak Kea, Jackson Rec Mini Tripper , and others.

If you like to build things, there are several options, with a skin-on-frame probably being the least expensive. Here's one:

There are paddles for kids. Here's an inexpensive one:


– Last Updated: Jun-04-08 9:29 PM EST –

tell her to keep her thumbs up..also works against blisters.

and get her in the habit of pushing the upper elbow out instead of pulling the lower elbow in. (which i'm sure you already know, but I have to remind my girls all the time after watching their technic.)

raising the seat
Unless you can buy a smaller kayak, raising the seat should work. There should be plenty of extra stability to play with before making the boat anywhere near unstable. I was paddling a 24in wide kayak last weekend that was much too big for me. Half way through the day I added a one inch thick piece of foam to the seat and it made a huge difference. The kayak was still to big for me but it made paddling it much easier and more enjoyable.