Cockpit Clutter

Like many, I prefer to keep my decks clear of unnecessary gear, in event of a wave, capsize, or rescue. So my bilge pump, bailer, sponge, and paddle float all end up neatly tucked behind my seatback.

Many paddling books recommend tethering each item into the boat to prevent its being lost during a capsize. But as I practice more rescue techniques this season, I often find all those tethers and leashes making quite a spider’s web of gear, with each piece tangled with its neighbor, and invariably on the wrong side of the boat to begin a proper self-rescue setup.

Other than snipping the lines and hoping the waves don’t wash my stuff away during a capsize, what else can I do? How about ganging two items, say, the sponge and the bailer, on one leash together?

Any other ideas?

Consider a Knee Tube…

Put them all in a mesh bag with ONE tether to the bag…

That is exactly why I keep
mine on the deck under the bungees.

I have been in some horrendous breaking waves, and absolutely nothing has come out from under them.

I keep the pump on the front deck since after a self rescue that is where I want to reach for it once I am in the cockpit.

I keep the paddle float on the back deck right behind the seat, since that is where the other end of the paddle will go in a self rescue.



what kind of kayak?

– Last Updated: Jun-29-05 10:21 AM EST –

for anyone who has taught basic rescues catching waterbottles and clutter is a constant. Configure inside the cockpit rigging so stuff cannot get loose until you pull it loose. A net of 3/16" bungie behind the back band should keep loose stuff from floating out.
Depending on the kayak you can secure various items so they aren't all tossed together. If the pump can fit under the foredeck then it'll never get in the way. If the sponge is secured right in front of the seat it's always available. You shouldn't have to pull something out unless you need it. And after you use it you should be able to put it away without upsetting your balance.

I keep a pump hooked under the foredeck and the the paddlefloat behind the seat. Who needs a sponge? If you flip and swim in conditions, that last 1/4" of water is not worth worrying about. You got other problems.


To expand on the reply above - use a 3mm or 4mm bungee to make a web behind your seat or take one of those “mesh gear bags” and cut it to size to cover the area behind the seat. Leave one side hooked so you can release it and reach in to pull out what you need. Of course - this is dependent upon how much you put in it and how big the space is behind your seatback.

I personally replaced my seat back with a foam one with a “pillar” to the rear bulkhead. I cut a notch into it that holds my pump. My paddlefloat is then tucked into the side of the seat and the sponge on the other side of the seat. Pretty easy.

Ya know …
I’ve often wondered the same thing about the silly sponge. In calm conditions, my pump gets all but a 1/2" or so of water, so unless I’m going for Martha-Stewart-caliber tidiness, who needs it? Maybe I’ll toss it.

Now I’m even looking askance at my bailer. I’ve never done a side-by-side shootout, but is a bailer significantly faster than a pump? Besides use as a bedpan (no small matter), of what use is it?

For those who are keeping their pumps under the foredeck, how, besides a knee tube, are you storing your pump there? And how would you affix a knee tube to a poly boat?

I’m paddling a Necky Looksha Sport now, and all my rescue gear is pretty secure behind the back band; it often stays well-stowed even during a capsize, until I want to remove it. Afterwards, I typically stow each piece elsewhere as it’s difficult to return it behind the seat once seated in the boat.

Maybe I need to consider just doing without all the leashes and tethers …

Foredeck Pump Holder

– Last Updated: Jun-29-05 11:48 AM EST –

in my plastic boats, I blind riveted 4 nylon webbing loops to run bungee through. The bungee holds the pump. In the composite boats, I glassed in 2 kydex "hooks" that snap the pump into place. Kydex is a form of plastic that is used for tactical knife/gun sheaths and can be shaped with a heat gun.


I keep a carabiner clipped to one backband support bungie. Paddle float gets rolled up and the float’s loop clipped into the 'biner.

I usually don’t carry a sponge, but for long trips I will clip in a special sponge to another 'biner on the other backband bungie. (The sponge is covered with vicose to prevent shredding, and it has a carry strap.)

Sponge is to…
… get the last bit out before I have to carry it form the takeout and lift it on my car!

Call me lazy, but at one pound a pint, I prefer to lift a drier boat! L Not likely an issue with your lighter SOF of smaller surf/WW boats - but with 18’ of Kevlar/S-Glass/Gelcoat I’ll take what weight reduction I can get.

I should add that I have a pretty big sponge and can remove water pretty quickly with it. I can use it for amounts many would pump, but mostly just use it right before takeout or to wipe out a wet hatch. Then there’s the indoor plumbing aspect…

Where did you place your mounts for your pump? Ive been considering glassing in four eyes under my cockpit, above my knees, and tieing in a net. I think I also have enough roof for a pump forward of my seat if I used your idea, Ill have to check.


Mark, get an…

– Last Updated: Jun-29-05 1:07 PM EST –

... under deck bag for that Q700. Pump can ride above it between bag and deck.

Bag is out of the way and you'll wonder how you got along without it.

Scroll down, it's almost at the bottom on the right.

Here's a shot of mine:

I don't have rudder - so ditched the foot pegs for foam. My pump also sticks into the foam a few inches and will stay snuggly in place with out the bag (image show the pads that glue in to hold the bag):

If I didn't have the foam with cutout for the end of the pump - I'd add a small clip/tether to the pump and attach it to one of the forward bag attachment points.

That bag looks better than my idea of a net. I believe that Ill add one, thank you Kris.


Either, Or…

– Last Updated: Jun-30-05 7:37 AM EST –

you carry a sponge to get rid of that last pound or two. Or, in my case, I just want one less piece of equipment to think about and carry (no matter how light). I'll admit... I am getting really minimalist when I paddle. I don't know why, but just thought of the amount of gear folks carry (and me somewhat in the past) to go out for several hours of paddling really, really turns me off to the whole touring thing. It's like a gearhead's game. One of the attractions of white water and surf, besides the adrenaline fix and high intensity/short time frame workout, is that it's pretty much me, boat and paddle (okay, okay, a throwrope too for white water). That's it.

The only thing that makes touring okay with me these days is that I use a SOF and do Greenland style. I have my boat, GP, storm paddle, compass on deck and VHF, snacks and water bag on the PFD. No paddle float or pump or anything else. I don't tour with anyone else these days. I don't want to offend their sensibilities nor hear their grief about not enough gear. ;)


Stowing stuff

Thanks for all the suggestions!
Armed with all the above ideas, I’m going to go out and take another hard look at my boat and gear, and find something that works better.

The aluminum side plates that support the seat are so close to the sides of the hull that I cannot fit my pump there like many paddlers do; in fact, I’m not sure I could cram the rolled-up paddle float there, it’s so tight. I was already kicking around the idea of a ‘glove box’ bag under the foredeck, like Greyak’s slick setup, so maybe a pump-retention system will find it’s way into that. But it looks like everything else has to remain behind the seat, probably sans tethers.

Thanks again!

Paddle 'Biner
Nice and big and easy to get stuff when you need it.


Well said, Lee
It’s easy to find or make places to store the gear you need to carry. I’m not sure why you think you need a bailer in addition to the pump and sponge; that seems like overkill to me.

Pumps fit easily under the foredeck or between the cheek plate and the hull. A sponge fits behind the other cheek plate. I keep my paddle float in loops of bungee tied to the back of my back band. None of this stuff belongs on the deck. When I’m in the water, all of these items are easily accessible. When I’m paddling, they’re completely out of the way.

As for tethering these items, don’t. The fewer lines you have tied to your boat the better.

Unfair criticism
It’s not about being a “gearhead”, it’s about being prepared to deal with realistic problems that either that happen to you or to someone else on the water around you. It’s about being self-sufficient.

There are pics of a couple of methods…
…in my “Kayak Outfitting” album on Webshots at: