Opinions on paddle leashes....

A lot of different ideas here
try them all and see what workds for you. Another idea is if you don’t want a leash around the paddle while paddling have one with your paddle float and hook it to your paddle after you tip.

“kept getting seperated from everything”

– Last Updated: Aug-05-07 12:28 PM EST –

what exactly is everything besides the paddle and paddle float?

Well…I couldn’t hold onto the boat, while I was holding onto the paddle and putting the paddle float on…three items, two hands…it is just a matter of playing around with it more and practicing a few different things to see what works. The point is, if it had been really windy, and choppy, it would have been impossible…so I was just curious what others typically do. Of course, I’d like to eventually get to a point where I don’t need to worry about it because I’m confident enough with my rolls that I never have to get out of the boat…but you can never fully rely on that, and I figure you should always be prepared for worst case scenarios…so after trying it out the other night, it was obvious to me that I need to work on my self rescue skills a bit…and I figure there just had to be a few tricks to the whole process of flipping over the boat, putting the paddle float on the paddle without having the boat float away, and doing it all comfortably in a windy situation…

I figure it takes me about six times to figure out how something works and twelve times to get it down. How many times have you done this particular self-rescue?

Paddle stow
I don’t care for paddle leashes but a paddle stow is nice. Something like a small loop of bungee cord or a velcro strap.

how many times have I tried it…
I did the stern/boat flip twice. Once I’ve re-entered using the paddle-float method…the other time I entered using the cowboy straddle method. The idea of a paddle park seems like a good one…

try this one

Sea kayaking safety video

– Last Updated: Aug-06-07 10:28 AM EST –

In the rough water video by Ollie Sanders they use the paddle leash extensively. This is the video that is considered to be the bible of rough water training.


You have to remember that you don't have to use the paddle leash all the time. You can fasten it if the conditions get rough and you think there could be problems or just to hold a paddle during a rescue. I don't use one but I think it's advantages far outweigh any dissadvantages if any. I carry a spare and I just want the freedom. But if constantly playing in rips was my MO, I would use one.

draining the boat
I have the same problem (me sinking rather than boat lifting). I’ve found it helps if I hold my paddle in the hand opposite the one doing the bow lifting, at the waterline with blades in a bracing position. I then submerge myself as much as possible, then do a kick, use the paddle for leverage and lift the bow. Sometimes it makes just enough difference for me to lift it.

Other times I’ve tried submerging the stern instead, but have only had partially successful results that way.

The Paddle float lift.

– Last Updated: Aug-06-07 10:21 AM EST –

I actually invented the "Paddle Float Lift" and it was in an article in Sea kayaker about 9 years ago. You actually have the paddle float on the paddle and the paddle under your arm with the other end held by your leg wrapped over it. You lean back and can easily lift a bow. However it requires skill and if you slip, the bow can come smacking you in the face. I abondoned teaching it or publicizing it. I think the greater % of self draining techniques are still pool techniques. Sometimes (depending on the boat) you can do a stearn push down on a rough day if you time it with the wave action and push down as a wave lifts it. But you could loose your boat if it shoots away from your grip as you flip it over.

always use a leash
My first kayak came with a paddle leash. I used it, liked it. Saves a lot of hassle during the day. So, my next kayak and my next kayak got one too. I ALWAYS hook it up. Cannot see why you would not want that. Why make life harder than it needs to be? Get one, use it. It seems like you need one from your description above, why make life deliberately frustrating?

The only time I might consider not using it is if I were in very high risk rapids thay might cause the leash to get snagged on something. Once you have one and use it, you will wonder what all the discussion was about. How can this not be standard equipment?

"How can this not be standard equipment?
Because of the danger of entanglement and the availability of options that do not carry that danger. It isn’t snagging in WW that is the problem but entanglement of the leash with some part of you. Rough conditions in the sea pose the same problem in my judgment.

In any rapids…

– Last Updated: Aug-06-07 5:09 PM EST –

Heck - I take off the Sea Snips and little yellow PFD light in class 2 rapids...

Seriously, if there is any whitewater person who would advise using a paddle leash in any level rapids at all, I haven't met them. Even in class 1 and 2 rapids the combo of a paddle leash, your body and anything on the bottom could create a huge risk. After bouncing around a river bottom in some fairly easy class 2 stuff when I tried to come up for a roll and hit a tree branch with my arm instead, I get their point.

As to using them or not - the strongly opinionated stuff starts when those who have a roll in big conditions and do tidal stuff or surf weigh in at the same time as those who paddle lakes and avoid such environments. These are two very different risk levels and paddling considerations, and frankly one doesn't inform the other very well.

Works better for me
I’ve had a lot of practice lately draining different models of swamped boats :wink:

I have inconsistent success with the “stern-pushdown” depending on the boat - I can completely drain a Skerry, mostly drain my Romany, and can’t even break the cockpit seal on an Avocet, for example.

The “bow-pushup” seemed to work reliably on every boat I tried. With a PFD and a little kicking I have more than enough floatation to hold the coaming out of the water and get a complete drain. I imagine this method would be significantly more difficult with a loaded boat however - all my experimentation was with empty boats. I hold the paddle in one hand, with both hands on the boat. I’ve also tried the method mentioned below where you hold the paddle in the water and push up off it, but found it more difficult to control the boat with just one hand.

Just my experiences, your mileage may vary.

rescue practice in rough water
Last night, a friend and I practiced various rescues in fairly rough water on Lake Superior. She started out NOT using her paddle leash (and NRS bungy one, with 2 quick release straps), and she kept losing the paddle and/or boat when she was trying to hold onto her boat in the waves and put on the paddle float. Then she started using her paddle leash, and while she did get tangled in the bungies, she also stopped losing the paddle–and it helped her relax. She found that she could always untangle from the bungie in those conditions, but it did persuade her to get a pdf knife–and to keep her paddle leash fastened onto her boat so she’d have it handy.

The interesting thing was that the paddle float entry worked surprisingly well in the conditions (of course, a re-entry and roll or just a roll would have been better, but she’s working up to that point still). Even though the water seemed awfully warm for Lake Superior, and even though we both had hydroskin on, we both got pretty chilled practicing-another useful lesson!

Try hooking a foot into the overturned
cockpit to hold onto your boat. That way you still have your two hands free.

in the new “Sea Kayak Safety” DVD
the makers (Leo Hoare and Olly Sanders) say they only came to really appreciate having a paddle leash while shooting the DVD

if the SKS video
is considered to be the new bible of rough water training, it has more holes in it than a block of swiss cheese:

no T rescue (only what they call X)

no roll (only a reenter and roll)

no paddle float self-rescue (only a reenter and paddle-float roll)

no stirrup self-rescue

no rescues with gear-ladden boats (only with empty boats; half of their rescues would break your back)

Not a good video?
What video would you recommend showing rescues done in very rough conditions? Perhaps they left out the things you mentioned for a reason? I liked that assisted one where they place one leg in the cockpit first and use it to leverage on to the back deck - never seen that. I think its a great video especially the way each of the rescues is broken down three times for the viewer. I’ve never seen one better.

If you’re not on dial up you can see some clips on the bottom of the web site.


Hate to disagree with you, Jay
but that put a leg in the cockpit first procedure really sucks. At least for me. I ended up with a massive bruise on the side of me leg and couldn’t get into the boat, despite the fact I can re-enter all of the other standard ways.