Kayaking with a physical disability

Hello; honesty I’ve only kayaked once, but I did enjoy it. I have Cerebral Palsey, so I have limited physical strengh; both upper body and lower body. A few thinks I noticed on my kayaking attempt was one, I couldnt lift up the paddles to row (I was thinking if the paddle was held up I could easily row), two, as soon as the wind picked I was pretty much at its mercy, and three; I had trouble stearing.

Anyway; this is a little about me and what I’d like to accomplish. Any thoughts, ideas, and opinions are all welcome.

Wear a good P.F.D.
and always go with someone.

My paddling partner has M.S. and he still runs class IV white water. I think paddling is a great way for people in your situation to get out and enjoy the outdoors, I bet you have already looked it up but if not, do a quick google search on adaptive kayaking, there is a fair bit of info out there and some programs that focus on helping people get started.

Good Luck in your paddling!


Try This Link…

– Last Updated: May-19-07 9:39 PM EST –

I needed some help last year in developing an adaptive paddling rig for my daughter, who has very limited use of her right arm. Many people on p.net responded to my request for help - a lot of good ideas and wonderful encouragement came my way. One of the best was the link that follows, where I found a wealth of information, some very solid design ideas, and a lot more advice and encouragement.


The folks there were really, really helpful. The Disabled Adventurers rig is for sit-on-top kayaks; it took some tinkering to adapt it to a sit-in (decked) kayak, but I have a prototype done, and it works. (Actually, just checked their website, and there's now info for a decked kayak design modification!) It's really pretty simple to do - I just tend to procrastinate a lot :->))
Best of luck with this - if I can help, my e-mail is vk1nf@yahoo.ca

Re control in winds - that's another whole ball of wax - if there's enough wind, the best paddlers can have fun going where they want to go. Using the sort of fixed pivot point rig used by Disabled Adventurers to mount the paddle really limits how much course correction you can accomplish with paddling technique. Rudders and skegs can help overcome this, but since I use neither, perhaps others with more experience with them can offer some advice.

I’ve seen something like that boom on a decked boat. The paddle was in a swivel yoke made from plastic pipe.

You might be more comfortable with a lighter paddle with smaller blades. If your foot coordination is OK, a rudder would help you deal with wind. It doesn’t take much strength to use one.

The commonly used term is “adaptive paddling”. If you do a search you’ll find lots of resources.

Good luck
I hope you find a way that works for you.

Kayaking is very doable and is a good exersize, but sound judgement needs to be exersized.

My wife has MS. Her mobility has been impacted, and kayaking is her main means of exersize in the summer. We live on a small pond that is fairly well protected from wind, and she does laps in her Zydeco. This is an earlier rotomolded model that is light (34 lbs), stable, and has a large cockpit to ease entry and exit. It is stored in the back yard, and she can handle it without any assistance.

We take this boat to larger lakes or slow rivers (St. Croix) on quiet days, and she goes solo in it, with me accompanying her in my boat. In more difficult situations, we either take our canoe or a double kayak.

When we went to Alaska, we used double kayaks.

You should consider a PFD with head support (forgot the specific class designation), and a boat with large cockpit to ease exit if you go overkeel. My wife kayaks on her own only on a well-known body of water that is well protected from wind.

A couple of thoughts
1. How about the strength in your legs?

Hobie makes a kayak that you pedal like a bike which would be just the ticket if you have leg strength.

2. Can you hook up with someone with a tandem ?

Good luck