Deep water recoveries

Now I don’t want any of you sea kayakers with “bombproof” rolls lecturing about rolling being the ultimate deep water recovery.

For the rest of us, how many grasp the float-equipped paddle shaft and the coaming?

How many use rear deck bungies or straps to affix the paddle to the yak?

How many use a sling?

I’m a big guy who uses rear deck straps and a sling. I will be teaching a friend self-recoveries, and I got to wondering how the statistics shake out.


My thoughts
What ever works best for the individual. As long as they can get back in the boat fairly quickly and feel comfortable doing it in different conditions. Does it matter?

float entry
I put the paddle under the perimeter lines (not bungies) behind the cockpit. I can recover in calm water by holding the shaft to the coaming but I don’t think I could do it in waves. My hands are small.

I have practiced over and over…
…but have never had to use it.

Standard paddle float on one end of paddle, with the other end of paddle under the bungees. Swim/pull far enough up onto the rear deck, that I can roll over and end up sliding down into the cockpit. Pump out the yak and paddle away.

I hope it is as easy with my new QCC as it is with my Eclipse.

I havn’t practiced it yet with the new one.



under lines behind cockpit. I enter feet first, then butt. Works every time.

Practice, and get horizontal!

– Last Updated: Apr-14-04 12:13 AM EST –

Less gear required means less things can go wrong. Kick your feet and hips to the surface and keep kicking during the rescue and it will be easier to come over the back deck. One should be pulling oneself mostly horizontally. Boats with a high back deck are hard to do this with. What about your assisted rescues? Where do you carry the stirrup and can folks who paddle with you set it up? IN short work on technique, work hard, and, whatever gear you think you need to be safe, use it and make sure you buddies can too.

I spent about 1 hour last season working with stirrups. so I could help others. I still cannot be the assistee in a "between the boats" rescue. No doubt improving my technique and strength to weight ratio would help me, but that is not easy. I weight 225 and have been stronger.

I rig my boats with stout doubled bungies and or seaward srs straps and check their condition. I practice holding the paddle without accessories on flat water but if I need to do a paddle float rescue for real I will use the straps or bungies without a doubt. My other options include reenter and roll, and rolling. Just to give you the view from here.

Where did you find the Seaward
self-rescue straps? I sent email to them and did not get a response. Never found them in a catalog nor in a store. They only seem to come bundled with the boats.


Maybe I should have provided more info.

I paddle a QCC500 and in my initial attempts I failed due to the high rear deck. The coaming is shaped & sized such that the paddle shaft wedges under it, and I didn’t like the idea of putting that much stress on the shaft in a concentrated area. The bungies worked, but after I saw how Seaward outfits their boats with straps I fabricated and installed my own. I started with a separate sling, but have installed two shorter slings inside the cockpit that pass around the seat pillars and are daisy-chained for storage. Now all I have to do is yank on the appropriate sling to deploy. I go up directly over the cockpit and am able to stuff my free leg inside without any “crabbing” on the deck. After that, a quick corkscrew and I’m ready to pump. I still carry a 12 foot webbing sling coiled in my PFD pocket to aid others.

I was really just curious about what everyone else found to work best. I’m a big fan of trying many techniques and discarding those that don’t work for the individual. If it feels good, err, if it WORKS good, do it!


These folks distribut seaward parts. and your local seaward dealer can help, no doubt.

Seaward straps
They are available from Ecomarine at

I didnt buy them, I fabricated them myself. Seaward’s version had a nifty quick-release pull tab, but I have had no trouble pinching a standard Fastwx side-release buckle.


Yep those high volume boats
make it harder. Getting horizontal is the way! I used to own a 500 myself.

Hey JackL

– Last Updated: Apr-12-04 2:20 PM EST –

You should have no issues in the 700. Yours has the cockpit 3" farther foreward than mine - which I think buys you back a bit more bungee spacing back there. Some had complained it was a bit close to get wide blades in.

It's a bit short on mine - which is perfect for the GP (I can hear the groans among the traditional paddlers over a GP paddle float rescue!)

Also, the paddle park makes not using lines/bungees at all a decent option.

is the ONLY way! I broke an AT paddle shaft several years ago using the stirrup chinch method. Failure to get horizontal is an almost guaranteed way to sink your float.


Lot’s of good techniques
There is no consensus on what makes up a good paddle float rescue. Many have you in the water behind paddle and cockpit. Some ahead of paddle adn next to cockpit. Bungees, straps, or hand on coaming. When to inflate. Whether to be upwind or downwind, etc.

What works for you depends on your boat and abilities.

To me, the slings seem like a extra gear and just more to get caught up in. I know some swear by them. I think I’d be swearing at them. I don’t doubt they are useful in somesituations, but to me less is more. If I could do it without the float I’d be that much happier - and will try that (GP is pretty bouyant) next rescue practice.

A page with many good links:

Hand grip only, no bungies or straps
I learned using bungies, practiced with and without, and found that gripping the shaft against the rear coaming–NO bungies or straps–was more secure, not less. Less likely that the paddle would pivot, and of course it’s quicker.

My boat is a CD Squall (fairly high rear deck), and I am a small female, but had no difficulty accomplishing PF re-entry in it, first try. I had much more difficulty with my first kayak, an OT Castine, which I attribute partly to that boat’s wideness. I have also practiced PF re-entry in a rented Necky Elaho and that boat’s low, flat rear deck was easier to work with. But it’s not a big deal. Proper technique is more important. As PeterK said above, you need to quickly lunge your body so it’s horizontal. If you get your chest over the rear deck AND you use your abs and lower back muscles to keep your body fairly straight, it’s pretty easy.

I tried to teach one guy who just could not understand that his vertical pull-ups kind of attempt would not work (and it didn’t…he capsized again). He was obviously fixating on arm strength as the key, when it is not. Another guy I helped picked it up right away. A friend told me that she watched someone else who could not get in without stirrups.

I bet rock climbers and gymnasts can do PF re-entry very easily. It’s about coordination more than brute strength or size.

So you are
"clamping" the shaft to the rear lip with your grip? I need to try this. Makes sense.

My paddle float rescue of choice

– Last Updated: Apr-12-04 7:36 PM EST –

in the 6 to 8 months a year we have "warmer" water is a re-enter and roll using the paddle float for support instead of a hip snap. With a little practice, you can literally push yourself back up using buoyancy/leverage of the float at the end of the paddle shaft. Two summers ago, I could re-enter, reattach the spray skirt, roll up and be on my way in very short order. The time consuming part of the rescue is digging out the float, inflating and attaching it.

In colder months, I would use a standard paddle float rescue to avoid resubmerging the head/neck. I prefer to hold the paddle shaft on the rear of the coaming by hand.

The old QCC website had a description and pictures of this method of re-entry, but I don't know where the link is now. This method can also be helpful in eventually learning how to roll. If I can locate it, I'll post it here.


Paddle float re-entry roll
Personally…I found the paddle float re-entry roll very easy to learn. For me it’s easier than the regular paddle float self rescue, and quicker.

If you learn how to empty
your boat before you do a paddle float rescue it is much faster. A good reason for an angled bulkhead. Unassisted pumping is a nightmare.= to me.

Battery bilge pump
I got one of those Attwood waterbuster battery operated pumps last year. I think they are just the best $35 iv’e spent. The best part is that i can completely put my spray skirt back on and have my paddle in both hands while the pump discharge hose comes out from under the skirt, pumping away…3-4 minutes …all done.

It fits right behind my seat, a couple of bungies to hold it in place. Of course I still carry a hand pump just in case. Here is a link to west marine