Paddle Floats = Fraud?

Greetings All,

I ran across this site while trying to look up an index for Sea Kayaker Magazines (collected enough back issues that I have to start organizing them :slight_smile: )

It looks like this guy is making the point that the majority of current rescue methods and accessories (eg. paddle floats) are not effective in rough/dire conditions. It also appears several organizations & individuals are involved in “murder”…

I am still relatively new to kayaking and not sure what to make of this. Your thoughts?



Found the Sea Kayaker Magazine Index :slight_smile:

Paddle floats are one rescue tool
that individual is engaged in libel and slander. I would never purchase his sponsons.

We have run across him before. Beware anyone who tries to self promote a product by slamming others.

Clearly he has never tried to become educated and skilled in a variety of techniques.


– Last Updated: Apr-25-13 10:39 AM EST –

Paddle float rescues become more difficult as conditions get rougher. So does EVERY other rescue and self-rescue technique. That's just a fact of life.

A paddle float is a useful tool with limitations.

Your choice of effective rescue tools and techniques will be affected by your body type, size, agility, strength, and skill level. It will vary depending on the boat you paddle, the conditions you paddle in, and the people you paddle with.

Every worthwhile rescue and self-rescue technique requires practice.

Be wary of absolute statements. Be open to new ideas. Try a variety of tools and techniques, and see what works for you in realistic conditions.

What an…
…a$$ monkey. That is the worst product sales pitch that I have ever read. Me thinks that he may end up on the receiving end of a legal event.

No fraud, but a reasonable issue
Putting aside the guy’s over-the-top rhetoric, polemics, bombast and misuse of legal terminology, he raises a legitimate safety question:

Are inflatable sponsons a more effective rescue device than a paddle float?

It seems intuitively obvious that sponsons can stabilize the boat after reentry, while the paddler trying to bail, pump or paddle to shore in waves.

However, it seems less obvious whether sponsons have sufficient bouyancy and lever arm to make reentry easier than a paddle float. I think that would require some empirical testing, and sounds like a worthwhile experiment.

He has been around a long time
He is a big time trouble maker with no common sense. Going all the way back to Usenet and the forums there he has made a career of wild accusations and spamming. Best to just ignore him.

paddle floats do have their limits
In mostly calm water paddle floats are a very realistic way to get back in if you don’t have someone able to give a good assisted rescue. If a sudden boat wake or lack of care reaching in to your day hatch causes you to flip you can use it to get back in. As conditions get worse I do find them less ideal both due to the time it takes and trying to avoid flipping away from the float side. As you gain skills you will find other solo rescues quicker and sometimes more reliable.

For a while in my early paddling I did carry sponsons just in case. I paddled solo a lot on mostly calm days and could do self rescues but was concerned for those rare times when I might get caught by some rougher than expected waters (never happened). Like everything you need to practice with them and they do slow you down but they seemed effective as a backup plan. So not perfect but just another tool to carry.

A paddle float is useless if you never PRACTICED with it. If you give a person who has never used a paddle flaot before and say hey get back in your kayak they most likley wount be able to do it. Its a skill that needs to be LEARNED. They work with proper skill. No learned skill then they dont work. Just like a cowboy scarmble is usless without practice. Thinking about a paddle float ever try and re-enter and roll with a paddle float attached to your paddle. its bombproof.

My experience

– Last Updated: Apr-25-13 11:35 AM EST –

I learned to do a solo reentry in calm water. When I then practised in rough water I was not able to do it despite many attempts. That is no doubt due to age and fitness. If you have any special circumstance like being less fit or agile, you could find that the window of opportunity, for example between waves, is just too short to allow you to reenter. It would easily take me four times longer than a younger, fitter person to reenter.

Realizing that I couldn't do a reentry in the conditions that were likely to have dumped me changed how I kayak. I no longer count on being able to reenter and I adjust my trips accordingly. I'm guessing that I'm not the only person in this situation---able to reenter in calm water but overwhelmed by rough water. I wonder how realistic people are about their reentry skills.

A paddle float isn't a fraud, but it is only as good as your own skills and fitness.

my thoughts:
This guy is a loon with too much time on his hands. Any sane human being who was truly concerned about safety wouldn’t go about it slandering competing products.

I would never return to that guy’s website again, and I hope he gets his ass sued off.

agree with veryone
Paddlefloat is the first recovery skill taught to sea kayakers as it is relatively easy to do. But most more advanced sea kayakers won’t use that as their rescue of choice (if my roll failed, I would do a scramble if alone or T rescue if I had others around). As others have said, a paddlefloat rescue does have its limitations, both based on the skills and training of the person doing it and the conditions. But it is part of the toolbox of skills one should know.

Now looking at what the sponsonguy claims, that we need a foolproof recovery method. I am pretty sure that his sponsons are not foolproof. I am almost tempted to get a set and test, but think I’d rather just ignore this guy.

tried it
Maybe 10 or 15 years ago I bought a pair of those sponsons and set up my Mariner Express (which I have since sold) for them. I did a bit of practice with them, and they seemed to me better than the paddle float. They took longer to deploy but it was much easier to re-enter. It was very stable once you re entered and for bailing out the water. A bit of a hassle to then un-deploy them.

Don’t let your dislike of the originator dissuade you from giving them a try.

when a sales rep is dishonest
and disingenuous to the point he is, it’s hard for that to not reflect on his product. A good product doesn’t require dishonesty to sell.

I’m sure sponsons are another tool in the toolbox, just as paddle floats are.

…what about rule 91, never buy anything from a crazy person? I think I’ll wait until a sane person steals his idea, then try it. Wait, that violates rule 73, never buy a product sold by someone who stole the idea, dang…

If a reasonable person were selling them, folks might take sponsons more seriously.

Years ago I had a similar setup that was supposed to make a sailboard more stable for beginners. It did work – to a point – but had disadvantages as well.

Foolproof ?

– Last Updated: Apr-25-13 6:53 PM EST –

Is the sponsoon system foolproof

Sponsoon system requires CO2 cartridges doesn't it?
CO 2 cartridges are foolproof?

Sponsoon system requires flotation bags doesn't it?
Flotation bags are foolproof?

Canoes & kayaks require paddlers.
With the sponsoon system; even unskilled paddlers are perfectly safe in any condition.
No training, no practice, no skills, no pfd, no decision making skills, no trip plan, no radio, no lights, no paddle float, no tow system, no first aid kit necessary.
Your boat is outfitted with sponsoons; you're good to go!


A nut case

– Last Updated: Apr-25-13 1:56 PM EST –

Many's the time I've "started" to read one that guy's rants, but never once did I get far. His approach is so over-the-top and full of made-up accusations as to be intolerable to read, and he completely misses the point that taking a boat that has certain performance attributes and converting into an ungainly life raft may not be what most good paddlers are looking for. I can't help but wonder if a person could possibly be so totally intolerable in real life as he makes himself out to be via the things he writes. Surely not, but then, I'm wrong quite often about other things so...

right. nothing is “foolproof”
(particularly to us kayakers and canoeists!)

it sort of makes me sad
I agree. His message gets completely lost in his rhetoric.

This guy is on such a rabid crusade that he’s really making a spectacle of himself, and it makes me feel a bit sad for him. Something is missing…

If I met him, his crusading would always be on my mind.

Re-entry roll
The paddle float can serve well as insurance for this technique.