Opinions on paddle leashes....

So I was working on a few self rescues for the first time, and even though there was almost no wind, I found it difficult to keep track of my paddle, while at the same time emptying the boat of water, and then holding onto the boat while putting the paddle float on etc. etc. I kept getting separated from everything. If it was a really windy day I would have been screwed. Now I expect there are some things one could focus on to make it all better (i.e. suggested that I trap my paddle between the boat and my arm etc.), but I was wondering what people’s opinions are on paddle leashes. It seems like something that people argue both directions…but I guess I’d like to hear some of the arguments.

off topic, but a good technique to try
next time you are out of your kayak and it is upside try this…

lay back in the water and (if the kayak is on your left side) slide your left leg into the cockpit and ‘hook’ the kayak with you heel. Put the paddle between yourself and the kayak. Then you have both hands free to sort out the paddle float or whatever else you need to take care of.

On topic- I don’t use a paddle float because I found that they got in my way.

so how does one keep their paddle from floating away, when you are using both hands on the back of the boat to pop the bow out of the water and flip it over?

in your teeth

teeth also place for neoskirt front…
…during scramble rescues.

too slippery
I’ve got a carbon fiber paddle shaft…too slippery for my teeth…perhaps if I started using a traditional greenland style paddle…

In my first class we were told to put it
between our legs…it does work and frees your hands-you will be very aware if it tries to float out front or back…


It must have been on flat water

– Last Updated: Aug-04-07 1:41 PM EST –

I'm constantly amazed by some of the stupid ideas certain instructors will come up with.

Putting anything between your legs other than your boat is a bad idea. So are paddle leashes. Either rig your deck so you can stow your paddle quickly and easily, or learn to hold on to it.

I flip it over from the side
Sure water gets in, but a lot of water comes in when I get in the kayak so to me it doesn’t really matter.

If I was going to use that technique (pushing on the back of the kayak) I would hold the paddle shaft in one armpit. Actually, I would store the paddle underneath my deck rigging and then go to the back of the kayak - if I was going to use that technique.

Cheap Paddle Leash
I use surgical tubing. Its cheap, and easy and lightweight. I like the stretching properties to it, and it stays out of my way while paddling.

You can buy surgical tubing at most sporting good stores. The same stuff used for sling shots.

paddle leashes

– Last Updated: Aug-04-07 2:57 PM EST –

Paddle leashes can be incredibly useful during rescues--see the 'roughwater training" story in June 2007 Sea Kayaker. They can also entangle you and get in the way, so you need to be prepared to deal with that possibility. I keep a short length (about 5 or 6') of parachute cord clipped to the deck line (with a quick release clip) by my left hip, out of the way. If I need to attach my paddle to the leash (with another quick release clip) so I can do something else, or if the water gets very rough, I can do that in a second. But 99% of the time, the cord is stowed under the bungies, out of the way. You can also buy "paddle parks", which are special caribeaners that hold onto your paddle for you. Just make sure to practice everything with your leash, to make certain it won't get in your way, and make sure you can cut or release it quickly so you don't get entangled ( a knife on your pfd if you use a leash is good) . And try a search--there are as many opinions about leashes as people who post.

Paddle Park
Paddle parks are the way to go. The simplest one is simply a short strap that goes around a safety line and around your paddle. It attaches to itself by Velcro. It can sit on your deck while you are paddling and is instantly available and easy to disconnect. The other things you ask about just take practice. For example, to hang on to your paddle while you wet exit, keep the paddle in one hand (probably your left) and pull the strap with the other. Free the spray skirt with both thumbs while still holding on to the paddle. Push out while still holding the paddle. At that point you can control the boat with your legs while you put on the float. If you want to empty the boat, put the paddle in the park and go ahead. There is nothing to become entangled with. If you want to do a re-enter and roll, hold the paddle along the coaming while you re-enter. Forget about putting it between your legs (goodbye paddle) or in your arm pit.

thanks for that
I had always felt that way and resisted that advice. Good to know I’m not the only one.

Check the archives

– Last Updated: Aug-04-07 5:49 PM EST –

Mostly under Advice, for Paddle Leash in the topic. You won't have any trouble finding arguments for or against (or arguments just for the heck of it).

As to where to put the paddle while lifting the boat to dump water - even with my small hands I can keep it in one hand still lifting the boat if need be. It just means that any hold of the perimeter lines has to be in the other hand, so I have to loop my thumb thru them while lifting the boat. But lifting the boat enough is a much worse issue - usually the boat barely goes up but I sink.

I also usually have a quick wrist to paddle shaft leash that I've been known to unwrap from the shaft for rescue stuff so I can let the paddle float. Of course that means I have to hold the boat with my legs while I am getting the wrist leash on. That is also a risk. But in conditions that the lifting tbe boat thing is an option, there is usually a safe second and a half to do that.

For starters why are you lifting the
front of the boat to flip it over? I do it from the side right at the cockpit and it can be done while still holding the paddle. Also another thing to try is wait till you have the paddle float on and then flip the boat, the wind will not move the boat anywhere near as much if it is upside down. Good luck.

Lifting the bow
Lifting the bow and then flipping the kayak over while you have the bow elevated will drain the water from the cockpit. This, of course, assumes that your kayak is outfitted with bulkheads. It’s also very helpful to have your paddle, with the float already attached, underneath one arm while you lift the bow with the other arm. Just make sure you position the paddle float as close to your body as possible for flotation.

Pedro Almeida

Yes - as above
A good twist and lift will empty the water out of a sea kayak with full bulkheads, especially if the bulkhead behind the cockpit has been slanted a bit to make more water dump. This can help a number of ways - it can save the trouble and time of the rescuer having to dump the water in an assisted rescue, it means that a paddle-float rescue can be done without having to stop and pump out water before getting the skirt back on, and depending on the specific design of the boat it might get enough water out of the cockpit that a well-executed re-enter and roll could also be done without grabbing a lot of water in the boat. Again, affix the skirt and be on your way with no time lost to pumping.

However, for a smaller person without a guy’s bigger upper body strength, the lift part is often not the most effective part of thikngs…

why LIFT the bow?
I wasn’t shown a bow lift…they way I was doing it was from the stern…push the stern of the boat straight down into the water with both arms…which in turn lifts the bow out of the water, emptying the boat, and in one movement, flip the boat over. This worked very well, but again, you really need both hands to push down on the stern…so what to do with the paddle. I guess putting it under the deck lines while you do this would work…

Not what a lot of people do

– Last Updated: Aug-05-07 8:33 AM EST –

I've seen both done, but the bow lift as often. At my weight both are equally problematical in a full expedition boat, so I can't say which would work better for you.
My concern about pushing the stern down would be that it that, even if you hold the paddle ok (under your armpit should work fine here) is that all but a really large person has to remove both hands from the deck rigging or perimeter lines, something that would give me pause trying to do this in significant swells or waves. I've slid along and off the hull of a boat more than once trying to get a hold of the thing when I couldn't feel a line or end toggle in time. Seems to me that the bow lift provides more continuous contact with the rigging.

A lot of this depends on boat and paddler - it's just that any rescue skill has to work in nasty conditions as well as the usual easy practice ones to be useful. That often requires more attention to small things.

Water while entering
Yeah - this exercise is only worthwhile if you aren’t going to get the water in there all over again while entering… for larger guys, that’ll happen even in an assisted rescue.