raw knuckles

I just got my first kayak for my birthday. It’s a 10.5 foot Equinox plastic, single place kayak. Prior to this I had been kayaking twice - once in a 15 foot sit-on-top Ocean kayak that I think was called a Scupper something, and the other time in an inflatable.

I took my new kayak out for the first time today, and it was tremendous fun, but I kept scraping my knuckles on the sides of the kayak as I paddled. Since once side has a plastic hook installed on it, that was painful . . . I don’t remember having that problem with the Ocean kayak, but I think it was a little bit narrower than the one I now have. I am a small 5’4", 120 lbs, and the paddle that came with the kayak is quite short.

Any advice would be appreciated!

two things.
At 5’ 4" you really don’t need a boat over 24 inches which I would imagine yours is. Also you might need to just try paddling with a slightly higher angle. Keep your off hand up around your face. Good luck.

Ryan L.

Paddle matches boat
A paddle needs to be properly sized for the boat

and for the individual paddler.

There is a distinctive reason paddles come in various lengths

Paddle size
How do you know what size paddle is appropriate?

Check out the Werner paddles site
They have a guide. That said, at your height and size that kayak is probably so wide that you’ll also have to learn a high angle paddling technique. Your hand should not be whacking the side of the boat if you use torso rotation rather than just your arms. (but it is still an awfully wide boat for you…)

Get gloves

High angle has never stopped me
from hitting the sides if I’m careless. But some of the low angle paddling I see is so limp-armed that it does leave the pulling hand rather low.

Two Thoughts
First, I believe a longer paddle would help. I found the same problem when I started paddling my whitewater inflatable. I was using a whitewater paddle. I had to go to a 230 paddle and it helped a lot. Of course you may not need one that long but a little longer should help.

Second, you may be sitting very low in the boat. I don’t know the boat but if it is stable enough for you to put a pad in the seat it may raise you enough to help with the issue.

longer paddle
I’m a short-waisted 5’ 5" so I probably sit about the same height as you in a kayak – the widest boat I’ve ever owned was 5 inches narrower and 2" shallower than that kayak of yours and I found I needed a 240 cm paddle to keep from banging my knuckles on it.

You boat is almost 30" wide and 12" deep, frankly way too big for someone your size. You should think about selling it and getting something better suited for you. If that isn’t practical, try a longer paddle.

Looked up your boat

– Last Updated: May-23-11 5:29 PM EST –

The Equinox 10.4 is 29.5 inches wide. That is very wide as boats go. The Scupper Pro is only 26" wide. A too short paddle for the boat and sitting low in the boat (which may be the case given your size) would certainly lead to scraped knuckles. I put your information into the Werner fit guide and they say they do not make a paddle for you. Sell the boat and buy one that is your size.

Inbetween solution
The advice to get into another boat here is correct for the longer haul, but I doubt that is practical since the boat was a present. It is too wide for you to paddle comfortably or well, but until you spend some more time at this and have a chance to experience other boats you probably won’t get most of the reasons why.

So for the moment you may want to go with the longer paddle option. I’d suggest that you spend some bucks here to get a nice paddle, one that is fairly lightweight from one of the name manufacturers like Swift, Werner etc. If it is from a reputable manufacturer, not a no namer, you can always get it cut down to be shorter later. A cheap paddle is less likely to leave you with that option.

You should also check out things like local paddle groups and demo days at outfitters. These are fairly good ways to try out a bunch of boats without having to expend significant sums for a full day rental. And if you do find a paddle group, don’t be afraid to ask the folks with the shiny glass sea kayaks if you could try them out. I know for us, as long as someone seems unlikely to go out and immediately do something very risky with them we’ll say yes. Of course we’ll want to be around, but that’s mostly to put newer paddlers back in if they capsize. It’s not to constrain them from messing around with the boat.

I wouldn’t …
I wouldn’t waste money on a “nice” paddle at this point. The paddle that’s long enough for this wide boat will likely be too long once he got a right sized boat. More money down the drain.

Get some gloves. Try to pick up a longer paddle that doesn’t cost a ton. Put some padding on the seat to sit up higher. Each will help a bit and together you can get a working solution. Not ideal, but workable one.

you don’t want to hear it, but
Sell the boat, return it, whatever.

I fear that your paddling career will be a very short one if you stick with a boat that hurts you when you paddle it.

Spending money on another paddle, to attempt to fix a problem with the boat is like “the old lady who swallowed a fly”. It’s throwing good money after bad, and you’ll still have a boat that simply doesn’t work for your size.

I’m sure the person who gave you the boat wants you to enjoy the present, and I expect they’ll want to help you get a boat that you can use without hurting yourself. Try to take the boat back to the store, and if they won’t take it, advertise it on Craigslist.

Go to a kayak shop where you can test-paddle a boat before you buy it, and get a boat that fits your needs and your size.

He is a she

– Last Updated: May-24-11 7:59 AM EST –

So a lighter weight paddle means more to avoiding injury than to a guy. Especially if contorting to reach the water around a too wide boat. I did the same fix for my sister, got her a lighter weight paddle for her Otter. Even the pond thing they were doing was hurting her wrists.

I agree with everyone else that a more aptly sized boat is the real fix. But lacking info on how viable it is to switch out, a paddle that can be shortened later is one option.

Epic paddle
Epic is the only paddle maker I know of that offers paddle of variable length. But the variation is only 10cm. Could be the difference the OP needs though.

Epic isn’t cheap though. Fantastic paddle, cost accordingly.

Are a terrible idea for a new paddler. Forearm pain would be a certainty.

Ryan L.

Where did that come from???

i guess
You were suggesting not to get gloves. If you were I’m just saying that gloves usually cause people to grip to hard which causes forearm pain.

Ryan L.

Not the only one.
Onno and Werner to name two. And there are others. But the universal seems to be 10 cm. change. That is probably not enough to work for now and work for later.

Wrong boat likely, but
I feel for your situation and I really feel bad for you. If you can return the boat do it. If you can’t, do what you can with it with some of the suggestions above. Learn about the sport, spend time with other paddlers and just enjoy the water. The first boat you get usually isn’t the one you spend long hours on the water in anyway. Your next boat will be a much better choice. It usually is for all of us. If you can, save the boat for a loaner down the road if you can’t return it.