Keep your rear deck clear?

For sea/touring kayaks . . . during wet exit rescue practice, it became clear that keeping things such as a paddle float, pump, etc. on your rear deck is a poor idea if re-entry is needed.

Do you keep your sea or touring kayak free of items on the rear deck? (A spare paddle though has no other place to go, when carried.)


Depends on your method of attack.
For a cowboy reentry (over the back), I can see the obstacle. For a paddle float reentry (over the side) or a reenter and roll (underneath while capsized), it shouldn’t matter. I do, however, prefer a cleaner deck personally.


Another vote for clean -
I vote for a clean rear deck too. First, stuff can get lost in waves and if it’s on the rear deck you won’t even see it come loose. Also, if you need to tow someone, the tow line can get tangled on whatever is back there. I also agree about potential problems with rescues too.

I have my spare paddle on my foredeck, but it’s an NDK which is set up for this.

Front and rear clear!
I really prefer clear decks.

All I have on deck is a spare paddle up front (a GP storm that’s very low profile) and a paddle leash that lives permanently in the front bungees (even though it’s used for a boat leash onshore as much as anything). Also have a GPS much of the time - in a cradle that clicks into a small low profile mount - just within reach with a little stretch (once it’s on I rarely change display anyway) - and out of paddle path otherwise. Fold down if not being used - or I pop it of and stow it in my under deck bag (a must have for those without a day hatch - and maybe even with).

Pump and float are stowed in the cockpit - as I tend to only need them if I’m out of the boat anyway! I can reach both with ease - both are very secure (much more so than under deck bungees), but I can get them out very quickly one handed. I could share them with others if needed with only a very quick partial skirt pop (and if it’s rough - and I was loaning them - I’d most likely be rafted up anyway).

I add all that stuff about the pump/float as those factors (having to open skirt & ability to share safety gear) are often given as downsides to keeping them stowed inside. I’ve seen good arguments either way - I just don’t like stuff under the bungees. Things comes out to easily in waves or capsizes (when needed most) - so needs tethers which creates more issues! Just looks bad too.

always keep your rear clean!! ;o)

Doing it clean
Bnystrom did a wonderful outfitting workshop or five last spring Thanks to him I’ve got my pump in an under deck clip in front, I keep my inflateable paddle float behind my seat. Paddle is on rear deck though but that is it. Front and rear are clean

clear decks
pumps shouldn’t be on the decks. the underside of the foredeck is accessible,use it.

I would like to put my pump under the
deck too. How do you rig the bungies or fasteners in the cockpit in a FG Kayak?

Mine fits on top of my underdeck bag…

…like this…

I also have a cutout at the top of the foam that the last few inches of the pump fit into. Just snug enough fit that it will stay there with or without the bag.

My float is beside me between seat post and hull. Should it ever work loose (hard to do) - it would end up behind the seat.

I have mixed feelings.

– Last Updated: Sep-09-04 11:55 PM EST –

If I am going out with newbies and might do a couple of assists during the day , I might well put my pump under a rear deck bungie and attach my pump using a fastex buckle to the other side of the buckle attached to the deck fitting. I can release the side releasing buckle pull the pump out out and lend it or use it without releasing my skirt. Not releasing your skirt while at sea is a good thing.

To replace: I lengthen the tether to the buckle, clip it in, and tighten the tether.

If out with my peers or better, I'll put it under the deck. If alone: under the deck.

My thanks to Mr Bolonsky for the buckle tip.

Keep the decks clear
I generally carry nothing on the rear deck. If I happen to be leading a group, I might carry a spare Euro paddle there (for others to use), but that’s pretty rare.

The pump and paddle float live in the cockpit. The paddle float is in bungee loops on the rear of the back band and the pump lives either under the deck or between the right cheekplate and the hull. There are pics of various arrangements in my albums on Webshots at:

On the foredeck, I always have my spare paddle (a Greenland storm paddle) and a short contact tow clipped to the deck rigging. At times I’ll have a chart case and a neoprene hood under the rigging, but that’s about it. There’s nothing to interfere with my paddle stroke or any other maneuvers.

As a side note, one thing that I see when we teach our trip leader’s course each spring is that many people start out with lots of stuff on their decks, but after they’ve been through the rescues and tows class, their boats tend to have much cleaner decks.

Spare paddle in front
The only things on my deck are a compass (and/or gps) and a spare paddle, in front and within reach even when on trips. I used to carry it on the rear deck but like the idea of having the option of grabbing it quickly.

In practice I’ve grabbed it, put it together, and rolled. However, a friend watching me retreive, assemble, and roll with my two piece spare in flat water was ready to come to my assistance. I had a hard time assembling it underwater. In event of paddle loss and capsize I would do the roll with half a paddle. Much faster and easier even when I sometimes miss the first attempt.

In complete contrast, on a recent weeklong trip every boat we saw had stuff piled on the decks. First prize went to the couple in the Libra XT that had gear piled as high as their heads fore, middle and aft (I took pictures it was so amazing). Second prize went to the guy with Weber charcoal grill inverted on his back deck (charcoal probably makes good ballast though). Honorable mentions went to almost every other kayak that we encountered. All had a large dry bag or two on their stern. I’ll admit we have difficulty getting all our crap into the hatches sometimes, but always managed somehow.

Thinking about it more, we never saw anyone else on the rougher days. I would hope that people limit when and where they paddle with that much flotsam on their decks.

wow! pelican case on deck
wow! Right on this website is an articel and photo of a monstrous item on deck

That’s definitely a contrast from what’s being discussd here!

How the heck does someone paddle (even casually) with that on the foredeck!!! At first I thought it was on the stern deck - but no - that’s up front!

Obviously a calm backwater pond photgraper first, paddler second.

Does anyone that paddles open water/big lakes/busy areas use an otterbox in any way that requires it be opened while on-water? Why? They’re for storage, right?

I see no decent protection for a camera if you have to take it OUT of the box to use it anyway. What a hassle. What are the odds of dropping it when you’re NOT using it and it’s IN the box? L

Lots of very differerent paddling going on out there.

Hi Brian!
Good to hear from you again. I probably don’t practice as much as I should however, the last time I did, I had my foam paddle float on the rear deck as well as my spare paddle. I thought it kind of handy being right there when I needed it to get back in. The paddle didn’t seem to get in the way when I tried my paddle float resecue. Do you think the spare paddle is better in the front?


Hey Lou
The main issues with gear on the aft deck are:

  1. Interference with layback rolls. When you want to lay back, having a paddle float behind you can be a liability.

  2. Snagging during rescues. Particularly if you’re doing a standard prone position re-entry (paddle float or assisted), you can get snagged on gear on the deck. This can also be a problem with cowboy rescues or assisted, between-the-boats re-entries.

  3. Loss of gear. If it’s behind you, you can’t see it if it comes loose. If you’re on a solo paddle and something gets loose, it’s gone.

    I know a LOT of people who carry their spare paddles on their aft decks. I’ve also seen all three of the problems above occur. Brit’ boats typically have foredeck rigging for spare paddles and my understanding is that it’s commonly used in the UK, though I didn’t see anyone doing in when I was in Shetland.

    Where you carry your spare paddle is a personal preference, but I firmly believe that you need to be able to access it quickly while in the boat. I’ve only had to grab my foredeck mounted spare a couple of times that I can recall, but in both cases, it saved me from having to wet exit in very precarious situations.

    I rarely use a paddle float, except when demonstrating rescues. My primary capsize recovery is rolling, followed by assisted re-entry or re-entry and roll, a so I don’t find any advantage to having a paddle float on the deck. A foam float, while handy, would simply be in my way 99,99% of the time. I can pull the inflatable out from behind the backband in a second or two, if I need it.

    Use your best judgment for what will work best for you, your particular skill set and your preferences.

Are you a paddler who takes photographs or a photographer who paddles. While I would never even think of mounting something like that on my foredeck, if I was primarily a photographer rather than a kayaker, I might entertain such an idea.

Gee, perhaps this is a little different.
But I have been known to paddle with folding chairs on my front deck and firewood on the rear! But that’s not really normal for me, just when I’m the one with the “station wagon” for a kayak and have to carry most of everyone else’s camping gear.

I have stuff on back deck
I have the spare paddle torwards the back of the back deck…no problem with rescues. I have the paddle float and pump on the back deck too (secured to the bungies)…I will need the paddle float if I need re-entry. The pump is easy to move to the bungies on the front deck before I re-entry.

I have done many practices and have not had a problem.