Paddle float rescue

How is one to do a paddle float rescue in a yak without the bungees on the rear deck ? I have noticed that some of the more expensive yaks do not have bungee cords on the rear deck to perform this type of rescue. FishHawk

PF entry
When I use a paddle float, I don’t put the paddle under the bungies, I put it under the perimeter lines. All touring kayaks should have these.

Some people, especially those with large, strong hands, are able to paddle float enter by holding the paddle shaft against the coaming (thumbs around the paddle shaft, fingers under the coaming). I can’t do it, but I have short fingers.

Grip the rear cockpit coaming
and hold your paddle against it.

hang on tight
It you place the paddle shaft behind the combing and wrap your hand around the combing and the shaft, it’s possible to hold the two together and reenter. Possible, but it really doesn’t work very well in the kind of conditions that would leave you swimming in the first place. Of course a paddle float reentry doesn’t work all that well in rough conditions even with the bungees.

by the time you get to skinny/tippy/enthusiast kayaks it’s assumed that the ability to self-rescue isn’t confined to a paddlefloat self-rescue. If you have to have the paddle immobile and fixed to the aft deck in order to self-rescue then it’s just as likely to complicate a rescue in rough water.

When I’ve practiced, getting the paddle back out from the rear rigging has seemed like one of the hardest parts of the manuver – you need to keep your weight toward the float, and that makes it harder to extract the paddle. I prefer the grip technique, but it can be difficult in rough conditions.

Biggest pain for me…

– Last Updated: Nov-09-04 6:01 PM EST –

... other than how long it takes (and I'm not slow - just too many steps involved), is getting the float off, deflated, and stowed!

I've done only maybe 4-6 paddle float rescues (one in waves - for real not practicing. Not hard - except pump out with waves coming over open skirt). It works, but was more useful to point out outfitting changes and motivate me to learn other faster methods of getting back in.

If all the hassle of a paddle float rescue doesn't motivate you to learn other methods - nothing will. Stick to flat water and don't paddle alone (but get the paddle float rescue down no matter what - could save your butt if tired or injured).

I moved on to learning the same rescue without float, then some other variations of cowboy rescue. Slightly more effort - but much less time to execute. Still need practice on these - and to move them to moving water.

Recently got first (extended paddle sweep) rolls. Didn't practice for a while after I first got it (2-3 months), and was afraid I'd have lost what I gained. Got in some practice Sunday and nailed 21. Also added regular paddle grip roll, and can roll eyes closed - which seems exactly the same as open (I know some always do - but I've been cheating and using a mask). Offside is still dreadful and a ways off. GP really helps learning. Maybe next play day I'll try some other paddles - and suffer some salty sinuses sans mask to get a bit more real world.

I'm self taught with little work on it (off videos and online info). I'm in OK shape, but overweight and not very flexible. If I can learn it on my own, most should be able to do it, if not alone then with decent lessons. It is not anything advanced or really difficult. Not a trick skill - very practical. Any and all other rescue practice and play helps immensely toward getting a roll.

The effort expended to roll up is comparable to getting up out of bed. Failed rolls are difficult and strenuous, completed rolls are easy.

Rolling is 1000% worth learning. Like everything else for me - it's getting expensive though. I just ordered a new better fit/mobility PDF, skirt with neo chest band instead of cord/suspenders, and a decent set of nose plugs. Now to get everyone else's Holiday gifts!

Hey, guess that means I'll have a spare PFD/Skirt to go with that other thread...

This Stirup Rescue Would Work
This involves having a loop of rope that floats. I forget the length, but others may remember. Setup the float in the normal way. Drape the rope loop at the end of the paddle shaft opposite the paddle float. Place the paddle across the back deck such that the rope is at the end of the paddle shaft farthest from you (opposite the float side). The rope will drop into the water. Reach under the boat and grab the rope and pull it towards you. Wrap the rope around the paddle shaft nearest you making a stirrup that you can put your foot into. When you step into the stirrup, your weight will hold the paddle tight to the boat.


While I’m sure that works…

– Last Updated: Nov-09-04 8:14 PM EST –'s also even more complicated and time consuming. Introduces yet another piece of gear - and risk of entanglement. Also can put the paddle at greater risk of breaking (as can any paddle float rescue if it's leaned on too much).

I suppose, if it means the difference of one successful attempt versus a couple failed ones, it's worth the extra time and trouble to rig a stirrup.

On the other hand, if someone doesn't have enough upper body strength and balance to do a standard paddle float rescue - is kayaking really a safe or appropriate sport for them? (Oops - asked a direct and logical question - likely to ruffle feathers).

in order for the paddle to be held well it’s in pretty tight or else a person pushes it out while getting on using poor technique,by the time they figure out how to get on/in the kayak well it becomes evident that being able to have your paddle in your hands quickly is more useful than being able to turn a tippy craft into a stable outrigger canoe since you can tip over the wrong direction.

slings and things
A stirrup rescue is not a bad thing to have in your trick bag. If the water is cold it can leave your hands and arms weak quicker than you might think. At that point a stirrup might get you back in your boat when you don’t have the arm strength to make it.

know what really sucks?
having legs too long to sit in the seat and get them past the front of the coaming and into the boat. i can’t do a cowboy in my yak due to this limitation. the coaming is about an inch too short for my 37" inseam legs.

that’s why i roll now and why i am going to 2 different pool sessions a week all winter (that’s 4 months below freezing up here boys) to continue to improve and advance my roll in the hopes that there is no other rescue form.


Very common
My inseam is 29", and I still can’t sit in the seat and get my legs in my Skerray RMX with the long keyhole cockpit. It takes short legs, a long cockpit and a high foredeck all together to be able to do that.

More feather ruffling
Stirrups are nearly useless when you really need them. Try setting one up in rough water sometime and it becomes evident that they’re little more than a pool trick that gives people with poor rescue skills false confidence that they’ll actually be able to self-rescue if they need to. If one cannot self-rescue on flat water without a stirrup, one has no business putting oneself in situations where self-rescue might be necessary. In other words, one shouldn’t be paddling without partners with good rescue skills and shouldn’t be paddling on rough water.

renter and roll
What does everyone think of re-entry and roll?

I’ve played with paddle float re-entry and it basically is labor intensive getting every thing rigged up…re-entry is easy, little time involved, and a good reason to have a foot pump or electric bilge pump.

concerning the whole rolling process and learning. I’ve found that if you can get a newbie to hang upside down in the kayak for 8-10secs then a roll will eventually follow, those 8sec can seem like eternity but if someone can reach the level of calmness that it takes to suspend that long then they can roll.

we were taught by good instructors —well after we had hacked out basic rolls on our own— that it is best to teach/learn to scull for support first.

Same thing holds true…
…with a normal paddle float self rescue.

I wonder how many people here on the forum have ever tried one in practice or in real conditions, in rough water.

Everyone does there practice in ideal conditions.

Try it sometime in breaking two or three foot waves which are coming one right after the other.



Not entirely true
Many can cowboy feet first. Heck, even I did it (on VERY flat water though) in a Pintail with an ocean cockpit. Takes a little more balance/timing/bracing (and Pintail’s pretty decent to sit on rear deck).

Can’t really bring my legs in in my keyhole if I’m fully seated. Sort of partway in and twisted is when I bring legs in.

Play around and I bet you’ll find something that works.

Did it once
in those exact conditions. Short period dumpy stuff.

Instead of one or two miuntes it took five (which I noticed on GPS track later). If you stay calm and don’t rush it still works fine, but you have to pause and time waves for every step. Let the waves set the pace. Bigger than that - better be out of the surf zone.

Pump out is a chore. Doing that in those conditions will make you start looking at foor or electric pumps realy quickly. A spray skirt with a rubber grommet sized to match the pump tube diameter (and flexible cap to close) would be very useful. Reducing cockpit volume becomes a good idea as well (especially in a Q700 with standard front bulkhead placement!).

I have to learn a roll
In the meantime, the weather down here in south Florida makes it possible to paddle alone nearly every week end without much danger of capsize. Even a capsize would not be a danger in our relatively warm water as long as I am close enought to shore and the wind is blowing onshore. I am an excellent swimmer and I can always guarantee these conditions.

I have practiced a bit and conclude that a paddle float re-entry in light chop is quite easy, but who needs to do a re-entry in light chop? That has been my problem…our conditions are so benevolent down here, that I have been lazy about practicing re-entry. Lazy and pampered. Now that the water temps will drop below 75 degrees soon, I am reluctant to get a chill and I want to wait till late spring. (There is also the very slight risk of large toothy fish, which I see enough of to make it a consideration)

I am confident that I can learn this stuff. But so far, I have been content to just paddle along enjoying the music and scenery and getting in several hours of areobic exercise. I admire all of you who paddle in extreme conditions and have learned the stuff you need to know. I read here all that I can about this subject. But for me, the real challenge is to force myself out of my comfortable paddle routine and into a more serious rescue study mind set. So far, no luck.

Don’t look at rolling as “serious” only
It’s also a lot of fun!

The warm and calm conditions that make you “lazy” about it (and rescue practice in general) are also fantastic learning conditions.

As for being lazy - you can’t be lazier than I am! I just turned that to an advantage with the following logic: Since rolling is easier than the other rescues (by a huge margin) it is THE lazy way to go!

Any “extra” effort to learn counts as double duty - as you’re also practicing the other skills along the way. Why just do a p-float rescue - when you can try a few roll attempts - then do the p-float rescue?

Example of efficiency gains with roll: Sunday I did 23 “capsize recoveries”. I was only out of the boat twice (trying offside rolls - hanging out to try to figure out where I was off - and not leaving enough air for an onside recovery) and did two modified paddle (no float) recoveries. The other 21 were rolls. Pumped out minimal water twice. Total effort? about same as 2-3 p-float recoveries.

The other bonus - once you have the option of getting upright quick and easy - you can work on other things more comfortably. Leans, braces, etc. Those thing mean less chance of capsize in the first place. Your kayak becomes something more than it was.

BTW - It really helps if you have someone with you who can give you bow rescues (and practice the badly named “hip flick” while holding on to their bow). Saves all that getting in and out and pumping. They don’t need to know anything other than getting the nose of their kayak to you. Of course - lessons with someone who knows what they’re doing would be better.

Two must have videos when you get around to this. Kent Ford’s “The Kayak Roll”, and Jay Babina’s “1st Roll” (which is sea kayak specific). Slightly different rolls, taught differently - which helped me a lot (I only watched them twice each - but will review again once in a while).