Disabled Paddler needs advice

Hi everyone, I am new to this site, but I would really appreciate any advice you folks could offer me.

I am new to paddling, and have so far only gone on single day trips for fun and fishing. BUT I really want to plan an overnight camping trip from my kayak. The only problem is that I don’t know what to do with my wheelchair. I need to find some way to tow it behind my kayak, or other solution. Any thoughts on how to do this? Or on what kind of floatation device I would need?

I thought about having a friend drive my chair from the launch point to the camp site and back, BUT that’s a lot to ask of someone and is terribly inefficient. Also that solution would mean I could only camp at places accessible by road, which would severely limit my options. Also no one wants to go camping with someone that can only camp at a few places, and with lots of help required.

I can’t really leave it behind either as I would need it to maneuver at the site.

Any ideas would be really appreciated.

Thank you for your time!

I don’t see any problem getting …

– Last Updated: Jun-23-13 12:11 PM EST –

the kayak to and from your camp site.
I think the problem would be you getting to and from the camp site once you got there unless there is a very shallow with not much slope beach to get out on.
I assume the wheel chair folds up, and if so just secure it on the back of your kayak.
I have a sea kayak, and have brought lots of flotsam back from various off shore trips in the Florida Keys by tying it on the back deck. One item in particular was larger than a wheel chair, and on six other occasions I brought back large plastic chairs.
I see by your profile that you are in East TN.
If by any chance you will be camping on Watauga Lake or some other place in that vicinity, shoot me an e-mail and I might be able to help.

Jack L

Why not try a canoo?
Lots more room in a canoo than in a 'yak!


Fantastic that you’ve gotten into kayaking and want to do some trips. A few things to consider:

Getting some help may be, well, helpful - getting out of a kayak on a steep sandy beach with waves and trying to get into a wheelchair right there probably wont work, so some assistance may make things go smoother and safer.

A wheel chair could possible go on the deck, but the salt water may damage it, and it would make the kayak less stable.

Some remote campsites have sand, logs, rough dirt paths with roots and rocks to scramble over.

Since you’re new, my suggestion is to have someone drive to the campsite with your wheelchair - a campsite with a road to it will likely be a bit more developed. And use the experience to sort out your systems- what you need to camp, what you can do without, potential challenges and solutions. Once you’ve figured that out, getting to more isolated campsites will be easier.

There are adaptive kayaking groups, clubs and programs out there. I’m sure they would have more specific useful advice.

Good luck!

There is no salt water near East TN
Jack L

Try a canoe ??
I live in East TN. and you can try one of my canoes ifn you wanna. I sent you a pm, check your inbox

Some ideas for you
Kayak camping is a big step up from day trips and you should think this through carefully. Your wheelchair isn’t the only thing you will need to consider.

I think your first step should be to learn kayak safety and figure out whether you need to make any modfications to standard safety strategies, especially kayak reentry.

It seems clear that you will need a launch site, landing site, and campsite that are wheelchair accessible. I’ve never seen that myself, but perhaps it exists somewhere.

If it were me I would get an evaluation done by a disabled recreational organization. They will consider your disability, what you can and can’t do, modifications that can help you, and above all, your safety.

For creative ideas you could contact Mark Theobald at Disabled Adventurers. http://www.disabledadventurers.com/ He has been working with disabled kayakers for many years.

It seems like you would have an easier time with a companion or two. You could advertize for such a person at Craigslist. An ideal scenario would be two people in a canoe transporting your wheelchair while you paddle your kayak.

Strapping your wheelchair to the deck of your kayak may not be safe as would affect stability. Also, towing things behind a kayak (e.g., small inflatable boat) has been discussed here before and there was agreement that it is very difficult and again unsafe.

Would crutches be a better solution? I figure they are more stable and maneuverable on uneven ground and they would store just like a paddle on your kayak. GL!

I’ll second that!
You have cojones to consider remote camping, but I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that you seem to be considering that kind of camping alone! Kayak camping, mobility challenge, equipment - and alone? This sounds like you need to work out safety first.

I used to run a major disability services organization, so I’m not dissing your desires. I’ve seen plenty of athletes of all kinds work out wheelchair situations.

It’s much easier to see how you’d get in and out of a kayak from a dock than from a beach. Is that latter something you’ve actually tried (with some back up handy)?

How about self-rescue? Have you worked out that as yet? This is a suicide mission if you haven’t!

A good friend will be glad to go with you. Not everyone wants to go camping in inaccessible places, BTW. So please do ask for some help here. Your life is worth it.