Kayak Paddle question?

I’m a beginner kayak paddler and I viewed a video on how to use a paddle to help brace a kayak while entering or exiting the kayak by putting the paddle perpendicular to the kayak with one end behind the seat on top of the kayak and the other resting on shore. Tried the technique and it works great, but it pancaked my paddle shaft where it was resting on the kayak. Do I need to upgrade my paddle to some other material than aluminum?

Carbon fibre.

Fiberglass or wood both work well as paddle shafts too - CF will be the lightest weight for a given strength, though.

…aluminum should not “pancake” like that …I can only assume it was a really cheap or defective shaft. Anyways, buy something in the mid-price range,that’s where you get your best value for the dollar…the carbon paddles will run ya around $400-$500, kinda expensive for most people.

Yes !
That wouldn’t have happened with a better paddle.

Another suggestion though:

Most kayakers learn to get into a kayak just the way you are doing, but there are several other methods if you don’t mind getting wet feet (like in the summer) and if the water is fairly shallow.

Just straddle the cockpit with one leg on each side. Then plunk your butt down in the seat. After that just bend your legs and bring them into the cockpit in front of you.

Jack L

Yes, butt…
I would have to break at least one law of physics to use this method as once I get my (big) butt into the seat there’s not enough cockpit opening left to get my legs in.


It’s probably poor entry technique

– Last Updated: Jun-06-10 8:36 PM EST –

You shouldn't be putting a lot of weight on the paddle as you enter the boat, the paddle is there for balance, not support. If you do, you may break a composite or wood paddle.

Thanks for the advice.
I will try putting less weight on the paddle as well as try putting the paddle on the water side. I must have done something wrong to flatten the shaft. Where I enter the water on the lake is to steep to use the straddle method. I put the shaft today in a wood vice and brought it mostly back to round. Thanks for all the great advice from my fellow forum members.

Several paddles
in the $100 to $200 range with carbon shafts and nylon blades. Aquabound and Werner have several.


Aluminum shaft shouldn’t flatten using
that technique. You must have been putting too much weight on the paddle.

I sometimes have to launch the boat in conditions similar to which you describe - water too deep to step into to get into the boat. It’s pretty challenging.

I’d practice entry technique a little more with the damaged paddle before buying a more expensive paddle.

I paddled several years with aluminum shafted paddles before I could afford a fiberglass or carbon shafted paddle. I much prefer the all carbon paddles for a long day on the water, but still do ok with aluminum shafted paddles, when that’s all that’s available.

Figuring out the boat entry technique that works for you may just take a bit more practice and self evaluation of your technique.

There is another method
that doesn’t require the use of the paddle or straddling the boat, (as I said above) and is good for getting in when the water is too deep on one side:

  1. have the boat parallel to the bank, (assume the bow is pointing forward, and you are facing forward beside it)
  2. Place your left leg in the cockpit and keep one on the shore with most of your weight on the one that is on the shore
  3. bend down, (slightly backwards) enough to put your hands on the rear coaming, (one on each side). the position you are in now will be similar to a crab walk.
  4. Now slide the leg that is in the cockpit forward and put your butt down into the seat, (still keeping the shore leg on the shore to stabilize the boat but bent.
  5. Now that you are seated just bend the “shore” leg and bring it into the cockpit.

    With a little practice this is a very easy method.

    Jack L

    I use this method all the time when the water is too deep on one side of the boat

Learn to get in without the paddle
Sit on the back of the boat and slide your legs and then butt in. Or if you can, sit into it and then pull in your legs. It’s faster as well as being much nicer to other paddlers using the launch since you don’t have to take up the width of the space. And you need an alternative to the paddle support thing if you are dealing with a tallish dock or very irregular shoreline anyway. Yes, your feet will get wet as you get the boat out far enough to not have the stern stuck on the ground.

I understand the initial comfort of learning this approach. There are times when using the paddle for some support can help, so you should know how to do it. But it seems awfully complicated when I see new kayakers going thru this in a rec or a transition boat with a huge cockpit that they could just plop their butt down into, pull in legs and go.

What brand of paddle?
unless it is a toy brand that should never happen. Can you take it back? This weekend a friend ran over some very light paddles with a trailer and they were not hurt.

The paddle I’m using is a Carlisle brand
The paddle I bent was a Carlisle recreational paddle. I must have put too much weight on the paddle and not enough on the back of the boat. I will practice with the old paddle before buying a new one like was suggested. The lake I was paddling on has a very steep entry where three feet in will be over your head, so some brace technique is needed. Thanks for all your suggestions.

Keep using the Carlise and improving
That is a very strong paddle, It only takes a couple of pounds of pressure to keep you from tipping over. Keep trying with this paddle, but as you said you need to put your weight on the boat not the paddle.

I wonder if you can straighten it by bending it back gently between too closely spaced trees?

compare your pancaked to new

– Last Updated: Jun-09-10 1:35 AM EST –

I would compare your "pancaked" paddle to a new one. Many paddles are made with one shaft ovalized. This is done so that a paddler can know by feel what position the blade is in. Perhaps what you are talking about i actually this feature of the paddle?

The Carlisle Day Tipper is one that is ovalized. http://www.carlislepaddles.com/product/kayak_paddles/day_tripper.aspx