Rescue Stirrups

I just bought my first kayak and have taken it out once. I entered and exited my kayak with ease in knee deep water. While on the water I began to wonder if I could reenter after a roll over in deep water. I am purchasing a paddle float but I don’t know which rescue stirrup I should get. Any help would be excellent.

Thanks in advance,


Rescue stirrup
Two thoughts.

  1. Do you need a stirrup? There are techniques for reentering your kayak from deep water with the assistance of a paddle float and without a paddle float. Some techniques work well even for people who lack much upper body strength (me, for instance). If you can find an instructor who would show you these techniques, that would be great. Is there a kayak club nearby? Our club, for example has several instructors and people who are happy to teach other their skills.

  2. You can easily make a rescue stirrup and adjust it to the proper length to go aound your coaming and hang to the right depth for you to step on. You need a short stretch of hose over the line to provide a place to step on – the stirrup. I imagine there are examples and instructions on line if you do a search.

    Good luck. And good for you for thinking about safety.

Re: Rescue Stirrup
I have some upper body strength. I can get out of an inground pool without a ladder. I do have my doubts though due to the kayak being nonstationary. Thank you for the advice about a club instructor. We have a few clubs here. I may still make my own stirrup for emergencies.

Better than a device
is the skill. As a beginner, I practiced with the paddle float extensively - enough to realize that it wasn’t really viable in really difficult water. Oh, it can be done, but once you are back in the boat which is often a) full of water, b) highly unstable due to the water, you have to execute all of the following steps:

  1. Attach the skirt properly so that no additional water can get in, but which allows you to pump water out (which is by no means an easy task)
  2. Extract and secure the pump (which if not under the bungees on the deck is stashed where it is not easy to reach)
  3. Pump the water out of the boat through the small gap you’ve left in the front of the skirt
  4. Replace the pump
  5. Secure the skirt
  6. Retrieve the paddle (which unless it is leashed to you or the boat, is probably half-way to Hawaii by now - or you’ve done all of the above with one hand, you god you)
  7. Kept yourself from capsizing all this time using just your hips (can be done, but only by someone whose hula is much better than mine)
  8. Resumed paddling in calm water because by now, the conditions have changed and you no longer need a paddle float.

    OK, I admit that I’m exaggerating for the sake of humor here, and I have found the float useful at times (especially when used as a teaching aid), but I prefer my roll to any device I’ve ever used.

    The braces and rolls open up a world of possibilities that safety equipment simply does not. It gives you the confidence to try new skills (and fail) and recover from mistakes. Braces keep you from capsizing in conditions that are at/near/or just beyond your level of skill. Rolls allow you to recover and be in no worse condition than the situation that caused the capsize - which still may not be good, but at least you still have a dry cockpit, your paddle in your hands, and the ability to learn from the situation.

    Wet exits and recoveries provide little learning opportunities, often because you were overwhelmed during the situation that caused the capsize. Once I began rolling up from a capsize, each capsize became a analysis of what went wrong and how to properly recover in that situation. Each successful roll allowed me to deduce the correct stroke/brace to use so that a capsize became less and less likely over time.

    So, buy the equipment you need to be safe. Maintain it so it is usable. Stow it carefully so you can reach it when needed. Then, forget about it and work on strokes, braces, and rolls so you never have to use it again.


First off
You bought your first kayak. Does it have flotation to stay floating once it tips over? Floatation would either be a front and rear sealed hatch’s If not you need some added flotation most likely. Cheapest is to take a pool ball and stuff on in front of foot pegs and one behind seat assuming it has neither front or rear sealed hatches. If it has on rear hatch then just one pool ball in front of foot pegs. They do make Flotation bags which are best. I mention the flotation thing because most first time buyers don’t get a kayak that has sealed hatches. Ignore this if you kayak has sealed hatches.

Then take a rescue class, well worth it. In the mean time sure make your own stirrup thingy. Try not to get tangled up in it as that could be a problem.

I will second or third taking a class. Having the stirrups and the paddle float only work if you know how to use them, and a class can fill in those blanks for you.

Taking the class in your boat may also be good (rather than using one at the school location). This will let you figure out what safety limitations, if any, your boat may have.

I forgot to mention…
Sorry, I forgot to mention that I bought a SOT kayak.

Remember that the stuff you
Have and know how to use could save someone else.

Stirrups are just part of the arsenal

California Kayaker Magazine had an article about the cowboy scramble rescue, including on sit on tops. Can be read online for free at Issue 7 starting on page 8.

I would try what is said there in deeper water, but close enough to a beach that you can swim in, and see how it works for you. Definitely good that you are concerned about this, and to find out what you can and can’t do before your life depends on it.

A paddlefloat and stirrup are not normally used by SOT kayakers, but definitely could work. If you find you can’t do it on your own, they would be tools to help you.

re entry

Not easy.

As said, practice with all the available tools n see what happens

I was crusading for a double paddle float roll practice method, float on both paddle ends so the paddler could rest ear on water then hip snap hip snap hip snap.

Repaired a paddle with broken center link into a dowel glued one piece paddle. The aluminum shaft one piece paddle supports paddler’s weight from one leg on shaft, the paddle end on a float, then crawl into kayak…or canoe.

This is easy.

But the concept requires a long paddle or a stronger center for a given paddle buy or a new paddle design alternative.

However, the idea is stillborn with future rolling skills or wet re entries – with a decked kayak.

Looping back to why scramble ? There’s an awkw

ard imbalance of ideas n practices.

The scramble finds acceptance as an art form, a dance when the stronger re entry paddle is …?

Rejected as obsolete and nouveau