Paddle float entry breaks paddle

Last night at a recovery skills session, a novice to whom we were teaching the paddle float entry broke a Bending Branches wooden paddle. I’ve heard of paddles breaking when using a paddle float but this was the first time I’d seen it. It was also the first time we’ve had a newbie show up with a wood paddle, so maybe that’s why. He was practicing the “face up” type of float entry that has been discussed on this board before, after doing very well on several tries with the standard method.


Are wooden paddles a lot easier to break than medium weight composite paddles, and therefor less suitable for paddle float entries?

Are Bending Branches paddles easy to break compared to other wooden paddles?

Is the face-up type of paddle float entry more likely to break a paddle? It seems to put a lot of pressure on the shaft when you’re lifting your butt out of the water, compared to the usual way which puts most of your weight on the deck.

Has anyone seen a mid-quality composite paddle break during a float entry?

I’ve never read or heard
of a face up paddle float reentry. I’ve read about four or five beginner books that sescribe the paddle float. Make em practise with a foma float and your worries are over. they must develop good form or the thing will dive.

I’ve heard others talk about breaking shafts. Nobody but me uses the epic for a paddle float rescue unless life is on the line.I’ll use mine without thinking twice but my form is decent now (though I weigh 220).

My bending branches day touring paddle has been used by a dozen novices learning paddle float re entry.

Good on ya for teaching!

If paddle strength were most important…
… we’d all be swinging Toksooks!

Things like this = one more reason to carry a spare.

Vast majority of weight should be on the boat in any version of the rescue. Putting much weight on the paddle at all is asking for trouble with any paddle. Same thing happens to people getting in and out using paddle as a prop. Let the boat support - the float’s just there to dampen out the wiggles.

The real trick is keeping people calm and having fun. In future, consider using partially inflated floats to teach better balance, slow them down, keep their weight on the boat, and not have so much risk of panic paddle snaps! No reason to rush or muscle anything in practice. Slow, calm, methodical, and adaptable to equipment and personal limits (experiment!).

A couple weeks ago I had a little practice session of my own. Found that with a Greenland paddle I can do a modified p-float re-entry without the float. Really speeds things up and puts almost no stress on the paddle. GP makes it easier, but I do a similar move to remount a ski with wing paddle same way - or with no paddle at all - and is works fine.

Maybe no float methods aren’t for first timers (?) - but it’s not hard and would at least be good to show so they see the paddle and float is for assistance with balance, but not to climb up on. I am neither light nor agile - so if I can do it on skinny boats…

Bending Branches paddles
I and a number of friends of mine used to use the “Journey” model paddle (I still have one, in fact, that I carry as a spare). They had a reputation among us as being slightly delicate around the ferrule.

One of the people who had one is an engineer, and he said it was a simple thing to fix — something to do with the shape of the wood around the joint.

Great paddle otherwise.


(Who now uses a much tougher GP)

seen carbon paddles break and glass paddles, wood paddles with carbon ferrules and wood paddles with stainless ferrules. If you need a paddle that can do double duty for levering boulders or holding up to bad technique you could probably get a custom paddle made for that purpose.

What greyak says is right on, people breaking paddles are trying to climb on the paddle and not the kayak.

My $.02 is that if you’re paddling solo then you should learn to roll, if you’re relying on a paddlefloat self-rescue you’ll have to practice it enough times in a variety of conditions to actually be effective that learning to roll could be done in the same time period. No matter how successful your progression on learning to roll is the experience of practicing pf rescue in rougher conditions will be a natural reinforcement for situational awareness of the BIG picture,thereby reducing the likelyhood of getting stuck with a paddlefloat as the sole method of rescue.

From what I’ve seen by the time you get good at a pf rescue you’ve got other skills developed so it’s relegated down the list of rescue techniques. It’s more of a security blanket than an actual safety device in that most folks learn how to do it after a few times are out paddling with little practice in the conditions where one is dumped.

another reason to teach
paddle float re-enter and roll. Although I must admit I’ve had mixed success teaching it. 1 in 3 ratio of success so far. Next time you’re out, have some people try it while the water is warm.

Ask Kudzu

More info, please
How was the recovery set up?

Paddle shaft gripped against coaming?

Paddle blade under deck bungies?

Paddle blade under webbing straps?

Sling -wrap and shaft chinch?

I broke an AT (waaahhhh!!!) practicing the chinch method. It seems to me that pressure is concentrated by the sling on a vulnerable portion of the paddle. Also, I had not yet learned to “get horizontal” and that added to the stress.


Well, 1 in 3 means more than before!
Good of you to try. All practice helps - even the attempts of the other 2 of 3 teach them a lot about their boats and abilities.

I alway learn something - but often not exactly what I set out to. Consequence of being one’s own teach most of the time.

Adds another set of variables.

Personally, I’m too lazy to use one - and probably too uncoordinated! Just seems like more to set up, more to get tangled up in, and more chance to put too much pressure on the paddle.

All of that = more time in the water. Potentially much more time!

But, never used one. Must help some. For them - it probably speeds them up.

Just one o those things
shit happens ! A friend had a new carbon fiber Werner paddle and the blade broke off while he was coming up on a roll . He was lucky in that he was showing someone a roll and it was not a do or die situation . Would not have been nice if it occurred when he needed it or doing a high brace is surf . They did send em a new one .

Kudzu Here
I use a Werner premium touring job. Never broke it. I stay around 165 pounds.

Ok now i’ve heard of it.

– Last Updated: Jul-01-04 6:41 PM EST –

I think this technique puts inordinate stress on the paddle. I'd even rather use a sling. I know: I'm an elitist etc etc but there is a reason why this is not a classic or even a cutting edge technique in the literatrure or tapes I have seen. Look at where the center of gravity is. Look at the necessity for upward lift rather than seal-like lateral pull

Face up between two boats yes, boats are strong. With all respect to Kudzu I do not buy this one. But use what works for you

cannot be done on qcc boats
at least that’s what kwikle told me!

More info
Paddle shaft gripped against coaming with left hand, right hand on paddle shaft, face up on starboard side of kayak with feet forward.

It is still necessary to “get horizontal” with this method, you’re just facing the opposite way. But since the feet go in first, there’s a lot of pressure put on the paddle as the torso is lifted out of the water.

Re-enter with bow rescue
For non-rollers, an inverted re-entry followed by a bow (“Eskimo”) rescue is faster and easier than an upright assisted re-entry. I managed to get one student to do it at that session. The main problem is getting them to stay under long enough to do it.

I don’t think that even my Toksook
would stand up to that kind of pressure.

Maybe he just don’t like your boat!

Those nice low rear decks and fat chines on the Brit boats he paddles have probably spoiled him.

He should be able to any technique he can do in his in yours too (a bit of modification allowed with amount of lay-back, etc.) - and if not - then he’s only able to do them handicapped!

These comment probably should go on the “What is it about British style boats ?” thread!

Splitting the difference
… and not the paddle.

I think the method I ended up with last time is somewhere in between. I stay low and pull myself across cockpit, but instead of going out on the back deck (and then getting feet in, inching back and turning over) I just stay over the cockpit, begin to turn and drop hip into cockpit, and continue to turn and get legs in. Half regular p-float - half cowboy (and didn’t need float to do it).

My boat has 21" beam, soft chines, fairly high rear deck (10"), the cockpit is not particularly large (16x30 keyhole), and I am oeverweight and generally not that gifted with balance.

If I can do this, without a paddle float (paddle only as balance outrigger - but would be super stable with) - how hard can it be?

Next time I need to try it with no outrigger at all - holding the paddle for balance - or a quick scull/brace if needed. Should work as the paddle without float provides more moral support than actual flotation.

BTW - I found a normal cowboy re-entry (horse style onto rear deck and working forward over cockpit, sitting and bringing legs in) too much work on the Q700. After a few tries I started trying other things. If I had to do it that way, I’m sure I could now (flta water) - and will work on it more as it makes everything else seem easier - but it doesn’t seeem to be the best choice with this boat.

How hard it can be
What works for an individual is…well, individual. Body shapes and proportions have a lot to do with it. Apparently you are built for re-entering kayaks. I have practiced re-entries quite a lot, and if I may say so myself, I’m fairly strong and agile for my age, but there is no way I could re-enter a 21" wide kayak with a high deck the way you describe. I have a hard time getting up onto high decked boats even with a paddle float, which is one of the reasons I paddle a Brit boat. What is easy for you might very well be hard for someone else whose overall abilities are equal. That’s one reason why varying techniques develop.