Paddle float technique

The recent thread was getting awful long and was about the type of float originally, not how to use it (although they are related:-)

Flatpick and Pikabike advocated getting up on the aft deck behind the paddle and swinging the legs around into the cockpit. FWIW I thought this was the conventional way.

I can understand not pulling yourself up across the cockpit but what I have been doing is starting in front of the paddle and swimming up onto the back deck at about a 45 degree angle. That puts my hips at about the back of the cockpit ready to drop a leg in. Often I don’t even have to throw the offside foot over the paddle – just swing both legs into the cockpit and twist over.

So what I’m wondering is what the value is in having to haul both legs over the paddle from behind it in order to get them into the cockpit? Is it that further back is easier to sink to get yourself up on the deck?

I’m not trying to put-down anyone’s technique, just understand the options better. Guess it’s time for a pf practice session.

How are you holding the paddle in place?
I don’t strap or bunjie the paddle to the kayak; I merely clamp my hand around the shaft and the rear of the coaming lip. Lunging my torso across the rear deck allows me to continue hand-clamping the paddle to the coaming while I swivel my legs into the cockpit (it puts a lot of body weight over the rear deck instead of all on the paddle float). I don’t know if “your” way would allow such hand-clamping. I’d have to try it.

BTW, I have heard some people claim that some kayaks’ rear decks are too fragile to support the weight of PF rescue. Personally, I would never buy such a kayak.

what she said
I too hold the paddle in hand and scramble up onto the deck with a lunge. I then swivel in as quick as possible whilst leaning on the float.

I can make it look pretty EZ from YEARS of practice. :wink: it’s not all that simple, especially if you are not very strong. It’s like pulling yourself outta a swimming pool without using your feet.


paddle float re-entry
I seem to have developed a rather unique method of re-entering my boat.

First of all, my dealer installed a set of the Seaward paddle straps on either side of my deck, just behind the cockpit. These hold one end of my paddle firmly and do not require that I do anything to keep paddle and boat together. They also hold the paddle at right angles to the boat, maximizing the stability.

With the paddle and float in place, I place myself in the 90-degree angle between the paddle and the boat: beside the cockpit, paddle behind me.

I place my outboard hand and forearm on the paddle shaft and the other on the back of the cockpit. I swim my feet up to the surface so they are in front of me, parallel to the boat.

Then I make a move that I can only describe as similar to a high jumper, in that I lift my feet up into the cockpit, then raise my bum and slide it up and over the cockpit rim and into the seat.

This requires a fair bit of back arch, but it gets me into the boat while keeping the centre of gavity as low as possible.

I have found that with water in the boat and any kind of wave action, trying to get myself up onto the top of the boat results – inevitably – in another swim. Everything is just too tippy.

Since I have seen no one else even attempt this kind of re-entry, I can only assume it is not the best technique. But it works for me, and has done so in two and three foot waves on Lake Ontario in a strong wind.


to the assisted re-entry I call the ‘in-between and squeeze’ where you position yourself between two parallel boats, put your feet in the cockpits, look UP at the sky, squeeze the boats together and arch in.

whatever works.


Unusual, but not unique
Using the legs to pull yourself up into the cockpit is beneficial for people who cannot manage to haul themselves up on their deck. This is a common problem with high volume boats and “high volume” paddlers. IMO, it’s a much better idea than resorting to slings and other kludgey methods.

You must have good abs and lower back
I have done that in the assisted re-entry that flatpick describes. It requires strong abs, lower back, and triceps plus good timing.

But then again, so does the regular PF re-entry.

All this talk of re-entries makes me want to get on (and IN) the water again. Tomorrow is supposedly to be hot and dry, YAY.

howz that new 165 treatin’ ya girl??



Love it!
I’ve been procrastinating on the seat modification but TODAY IS THE DAY to do it (or decide not to). I did place the 1/2" minicell on top of the seat to see if I liked the additional height, and I cannot deny the fact that I prefer the extra height. It puts me at about the same position I am (relative to the coaming) as I am in my wood boat, which I like.

I’m nervous that the extra foam will not fit under the factory seat pad where the thigh support extensions are. Or that the hip brace pads won’t fit in there with the extra height. Yeah, I gotta pull out those “pine cone” pins and Just Do It.

just DO IT. the hip pads should be no problemo and the additional pad should be about the same size as the original.

On the 180 I just carry an extra pad that slips in on top. This way others who demo the boat (happens ALL the time!) can feel the factory setting.

Good luck!!!


You got a 165??!! Cool. Love my Tempest.

About the “90 degree paddle, feet-then-butt” re-entry. I love it. Works for me every time and I’m not “high volume” nor is my boat. I leave the floated paddle in place and lean on it for stability. I pump out my boat one handed by wedging the pump bewtween my thighs. Looks nasty but it works.

Gotta brag on me and my boat. Two weeks ago I did a personal best distance in my 165. 35 miles on flat water in one day. Tour day Bogue Sound. Okay we DID have some good tailwinds but we weren’t cruising down no river. And the guy in the Q700 was no fresher than the two of us in Tempests at the end.

Swim up on deck –

– Last Updated: Jul-09-05 11:42 AM EST –

Rather than hanging vertically and hauling your body up and onto the kayak deck (requiring a great deal of strength), it is much easier if you get your head down low and kick your legs so that your body becomes *horizontal*. You can then swim up onto the back deck. This is much easier.

Greg Stamer

Cowboy re-entry
I guess I am HV and so is my boat. My only re-entry tool right now that works is to push down on the stern and straddle it. Then, keeping low and balanced, crawl forward till beer belly bumps into front of cockpit. Now spread legs and put feet forward and lean back into seat. A couple of warnings (don’t ask me how I know). 1. Make sure the seatback is up, otherwise you will end up sitting on it.

2. Get recessed deck fittings. In cold water you cannot feel the bungie hooks and other fittings. I have 2 bruised inner thighs from re-entry practice last week.

What ever works, works.

Re-entry and Roll with Paddle Float
When practicing self-recovery techniques I no longer even mess with the normal paddle float re-entry. To me, the re-enter and roll is much easier. I like to do it with a paddle float becasuse it makes it easier to roll with a boat full of water, and if you ever have to use it then something caused your roll to fail in the first place.

Once you get used to climbing back in the boat while submerged, it is WAY easier than the ordinary paddle float rescue, and way faster. You don’t really even have to know how to roll if you do a C to C type roll with the paddle float. I think anyone could do this whether they know how to roll or not.


There are probably enough of us…
…to start a “T” vs. “Q” thread, heh heh.

Yes, I bought a T165. I figured that at my size/weight, it would make a great camping kayak. But it turns out to be lots of fun for unloaded daytripping, too.

I managed to make myself pull off the factory seat cover and glue in a 1/2" minicell insert for added height. Can’t wait to try it out with the mod tomorrow!

Not that Greg needsan amen fron me

– Last Updated: Jul-10-05 11:15 PM EST –

but I always tell those who I am practicing with (sort of teaching) that it's like a seal swimming up on a flat rock, and not like a pull up. For some folks, kicking the feet to the surface before the pull across the deck has made the difference. Also kicking the feet during the pull across the deck keeps them from sinking and making the pull harder.

voices of experience
you guys are figuring it out,the pf. is an aid in the big picture of self-rescues. It really isn’t an adequate self-rescue technique in and of itself.

I like the straps…
… I can clamp my hand around the combing and the shaft, ala Flatpick, but I find it’s nice, once I get back in the cockpit, to be able to attend to the pumping and the getting-ready-to-paddle-again process if I don’t have to attend to the paddle at all. Also, with the paddle strapped firmly in place, I can tilt the boat to that side fairly far and really use the pump well.

I know there are a variety of self rescue methods, and I have become proficient in several, but I find that the paddle float rescue is a very reliable one in almost any conditions. I have never tried it with my belly over the cockpit, always over the back deck. When I pivot to face the rear of the kayak, my feet are already inside the cockpit.

I’m sure there are other methods, but the only thing that matters is that you pick the one that works for you, and practice it.