handicapped paddler question...

I just bought my first kayak and I was also born with my right hand missing. Right now I’m paddling with 550-cord (military string) tied into a loop so I can loop my arm into it which works fine for now but I’m wondering if anyone knows of a better idea or has seen this similar situation.

Great Info, Great People

– Last Updated: May-30-09 10:15 PM EST –


They were incredibly helpful when I was looking for ideas for a single-arm paddling rig for my daughter. Their designs are excellent, and I found the folks there to be really helpful and supportive.

thank you
i appreciate it.

One Arm Power Paddler

– Last Updated: May-30-09 10:01 PM EST –

This is for only using one arm, but I imagine it may help in some situations.


Make sure to watch the video, he certainly makes it look easy. After I just watched it, I see that he does use his other arm for leverage most of the time. Seems like it could do the trick!

Prosthetic hand
I knew a paddler who had no fingers and part of a thumb on her left hand and she had a prosthetic hand which the paddle clipped into. It was fine for normal paddling but came unclipped if force was applied from the wrong direction so a bit limited in whitewater although she did paddle up to grad 3.

I remember one time at a race she forgot her hand so they improvised with duck tape but the hand worked much better.

adaptive paddling
If you search for “adaptive paddling” you may find more ideas.



I don’t know if you’ve seen the Hobie pedal-drive kayaks, but they work surprisingly well – nothing like the clunky paddlewheel “pedal boats” you often see as rentals.


No such thing as a handicap…just a “challenge”

I knew of a marathon racer who didnt have an arm below his elbow…he was able to switch TOO sides… he would cross his long arm over and tuck the paddle handle under his armpit…he could paddle 50 strokes a minute too. You could use the end and place it under your wrist and push down too…for me the top hand NEVER grips the handle HARD…but lightly/loose etc, You could cross over like the guy i mentioned and it would be much easier… since you have most of your arm.

You could have a fiberglass cup sort of thing made too for the end of your wrist and could cup the handle of the paddle.

not sure any of this helps…but nice to hear your wanting to paddle!!!

email me if you want more details.


Years ago
I paddled with a fellow in the southeast who lost his left hand in a tornado. He was right hand dominant and used a mechanical left hand, and a right hand control kayak paddle. He did quite well on Class III whitewater.

Wasn’t Charlie Patton a one-armed
ww paddler?

I think that
he had essentially lost the function in one arm as a result of an injury.

At Canoecopia in 2008 there
was a vendor that made equipment for people who required adaptations of standard stuff but I cannot remember the name…

Can anyone?

I paddled in CT with a guy that was a thalidomide baby and his(non functional) hand was an outgrowth of his shoulder …he had some sort of strap on arrangement to provide an attachment for good paddle mechanics…he could even roll.

The folks at Canoecopia had something similar and darned if I can remember who they were.