Safety & Sponsons Revisited 2 ideas???

This topic is rarely revisited, likely for many reasons, including some internet controversy in Canada regarding canoe safety and children.

I have two very narrow and concrete reasons for posting ONLY.

  1. In small group ocean conditions where a person becomes ill or injured and cannot paddle or assist in staying upright in there boat, AND would otherwise need an assist kayak next to them thus requiring the group tow two not one kayak back to safety.

  2. Solo paddling emergency, injury, illness, exhaustion, riding out conditons until they improve, need to rest in conditions, etc. And if injured oneself, and one cannot get back in by a wet reentry (yes there are methods if shoulder injured here also). Might it also improve self rescue as well.

    In addition to ALL the other most important aspects of safety including good sense, self knowledge, skills, equipment, navigation, communications, flares, group assisted rescue etc.

    Would it not be a possible aid to have some detachable, quickly attachable inflatable sponsons to assist with the above two situations?

    I have tried the Harmony sponsons and am thinking of getting a pair to stow in my day hatch.

    I feel that it just might be a nice alternative to getting a fellow paddler home injured or sick, as we might be more safely and surely able to tow them with the sponsons on their kayak. We might be able to have everyone towing rather than towing two kayaks for example. And their would be less risk of them repeatedly capsizing in rougher conditions.

    Two, solo paddling. Despite the best laid plans, things eventually happen and might this just not provide one more layer of increased safety margin when other things fail?

    Yes, like all equipment it is not THE answer, just wondering if you all have some experience in sponsons assisting with all other methods in perspective.

Where do you draw the line?
As an ex-alpine climbing guide and kayak guide I can tell many stories of overly backed-up safety geeks getting so bogged down by extra gear they couldn’t perform. You just cannot ensure for every situation. You could raft up, use a radio, drift wood, paddle floats, etc. In years of paddling and guiding I’ve never seen someone that sick, other than a dislocation in surf.

So, is there a rationale for sponsons? Of course there is, but (I) just think it’s a bit over-blown. Someone is that messed up, you better raft up, get on a radio and get help.

I say keep it simple and leave them at home. Carry a couple inflatable paddle floats if you must and stow them with some safety cord.

My opinion only here.

Sponsonship has had more than enough
time to catch on and show its usefulness. But I can see an argument for inflatable sponsons. It’s an issue for which there is no one answer.

Don’t kayak
Get a big barge.

If you are thinking of carrying spoonsons just in case you have to help a fellow paddler or yourself, you shouldn’t be kayaking.




– Last Updated: May-09-09 9:09 PM EST –

Ok jack. Can you name me as beneficiary. : > )

I'll assume you are speaking from lack of having experienced those particular situations and not just being curmudgenly.

Towing an injured or seasick paddler any significant distance in wind waves and cold water can exhaust the most fit rescuer. There are many real life examples shared in Sea Kayaker where group members get separated and one rescuer or one person is isolated. My mentor an accomplished international paddler and truly humble considers all options. I am not a believer in a giant equipment kit. But he would say the best equipment is your knowledge and judgment. However, this includes having accurate knowledge of how hard certain eventualities are and being prepared.

Yes it may not be effective enough to merit bringing sponsons. Yet a fair number of Brit kayakers use them along with boat equpped towing systems neither of which are in vogue here.

I say be a bit humble. Pride goeth before the fall. I am only asking for my sake. Of course u are free to follow your own ideas.

I think all of your examples are valid, however I would add just one caveat: If the sea is big enough to have dumped you initially, the addition of sponsons now provides at least another eight inches in waterline width. the kayak now becomes that much more vulnerable to being flipped in a beam or quartering sea. If you can keep the sponsons equipped kayak perpendicular to the waves you might have a chance of staying upright.

1 Like

Good point
I see that. The ones I experienced were on a Capella and were attached high enough that they did not inhibit forward travel nor beam seas. The seasick paddler would have fallen repeatedly or needed a ratted tow. The three other paddler ha capsized and needed rescues.

It was good we had them

just my opinion
It seems to me that the only argument made here for taking sponsons along on a trip is either very poor judgment in the first place or the “perfect storm” of several incredibly bad circumstances all converging at one point. At least that’s what I take away from the original post. If there is a better argument for using sponsons, I’d be willing to listen. Nothing in this thread so far would convince me that sponsons are an essential piece of equipment.

I know of an experienced kayaker
here on Maui that attaches “sea wings” to his Feathercraft K2 at night and sleeps in it. He sometimes stays out on the water for several days at a time, made possible by the sponsons.

I think you should get some!

i am not sure they are necessary either
Maybe I have stated it too strongly, I am not trying to persuade, just think it out and get your different opinions basically.

I certainly don’t think any piece of equipment makes up for bad judgment or perfect storms.

I was trying maybe not so clearly state the not so rare set of cascading sequences that do occur in ocean kayaking. One person falls in, three others stop paddling and look, they fall in. The conditions and events above can and do occur. Low probability events eventually occur 100% for certain.

So, basically I am just wondering if it is worth having for these type of situations. What I have been shown by several coaches with allot more diversity of experience is that prevention of repeated rescues in cold water of sick or injured folks is a big deal, and towing is way way more difficult than most realize. So they have got me thinking how this might assist in those events.

I guess Salty is right! I may just get them. If not for these events, just for those times it would be easier to tow someone that way rather than towing one plus a rafted assistant, or maybe when solo and take a bathroom break or have some lunch and relax with a sea anchor etc.

But ya don’t gotta be convinced :> )

not that I have ever sea kayaked , but ,
… the usual scenario I hear spoken of on this topic is … a disabled paddler (member of party) not able to maintain any self sufficiency , can’t stay upright , can’t paddle , can’t stay in the kayak w/o constent aid .

Perhaps the weather has turned up , everyone is on red alert and struggling to maintain their own , let alone having to deal with a disabled paddler and the burden of an extra boat .

It’s just my own thought perhaps , but seems like these fit the bill for such an emergency situation .

They aren’t heavy, they are small and compact, self inflate, and provide a place for survival or an incapacitated person to refuge , they buy time .

oh my god
Oh man, now I am gonna be sorry for having started this thread! Yikes!

OK. Seriously, for a major crossing and wanting to not force others to come and rescue you and risk their lives by saying you are going down life and death, this thing does play for major major time. Expensive but for huge expedition cold water big distance, might be a consideration.

I, personally, not saying for anyone else, try to envision be self responsible and self rescuing, not wanting to take adventures that require other to risk their lives no matter how courageous our SAR folks are. So I am not likely to take a trip that this might be needed, but then again hmmm. Interesting.

A couple things (that aren’t inflated)

– Last Updated: May-09-09 9:24 PM EST –

First, you've got JackL all wrong. He IS being curmudgeonly, and is rightly doing so because he has experience he is basing that attitude on (his two best qualities as far as posts here go).

Don't ask for opinions if you don't want them. You don't have to follow any advice given, but getting snippy is after asking is in poor form.

Like Salty says, if you're set on getting them, just do it.

Second, if you do get them, be sure to practice with them in the sorts of conditions where you think they'll potentially save the day.

More gear always adds more complications and potential problems (particularly stuff with straps/lines). Mess around with them until the bugs are worked out, and then practice it until you can do it blindfolded and with one arm, or you realize they are more limited in function than it may seem on paper.

If your intent is to help others by having them, best be sure you really can. This is not stuff you want to work out when you dig them out of that hatch a couple years from now and burn up valuable time someone else may not have, or end up causing even more trouble...

They require specific attachment points to work well, which means you can only rig them on your own kayak. To assist someone else with them you'd need to trade kayaks too. If you have a situation where time and conditions allow you to get them out/attached/inflated, and then trade kayaks - well, how incapacitated could that other person be during all that? If they are bad enough off to need this, they probably don't have time or ability to wait for all that (maybe, if able to float independently). If they're not that bad off, they probably don't need it anyway. I think in a situation with a seriously bad off person you'd actually need a third paddler (or more) to take care of them while you geared up. Short of that, it's back to rafting up and radio call.....

I'm all for having options, it just seems to me they make better sense for extened stops when fishing, breaks during crossings, overnights, etc.

How bout one of these?

Years ago
there was a one man raft some kayakers used called a sea seat. It really was a nice little raft. In one of the early issues of sea kayaker mag (within the first four or five years?) there is an article of a kayaker that used this sea seat in a real rescue.

I was doing a lot of paddling during that time in baja and we got some of these sea seats. Never used them for rescues but we would blow them up and one of the group would take a fishing poll with them and just drift. After a bit of time several of us would get into the kayaks and go round up the drifter who would usually have dinner caught.

As for sponsons I might get a set for a trip to baja this winter. we plan on taking several months to do about 2/3rds of the sea of cortez. It is not an expedition and is not to set a world speed record and will not be sponsored and I do not think there will be any decals allowed. Without these things does it still qualify as a sea kayak trip?

Anyway, the sponsons would be used for snorkeling and lazy fishing or napping.

I remember them as being a pain to set up though.

This all has me thinking
Why not paddle a Klepper or Feathercraft with built in sponsons and gobs of stability even in rough seas. Someone’s gonna suggest a Brit pointy ender is way more “seaworthy” and that is just NOT the case!

Safety first!!

greyak your are right often to remind us not to take anything too personally here. point noted!

i did not intend to bash, actually i thought he was tweaking me so i tweaked him back. and responded by experiences not Opinions.

And please read several posts here, I am NOT promoting them. just wanted to see if others might think they could be of use or other ways to deal.

nuff said, i get your drift thanks

they have whipped around the earth
arghhhh! tis true they have whipped around the world several times. I was reading about two Australian guys who paddled to NZ in a “kayak”, enclosed cockpit arrears, unsinkable, etc. Anyone seen it?

hmmm possibly helpful maybe
OK, many many ideas I had not thought about. Best to get knocked on the rocks a bit , learn that way too.

Sponsons had better be very very easy to get on and inflate, and in real conditions, in cold water, or with gloves on, and while getting banged about as well.

And, they have limits as well, still possible to capsize with them on, etc. I will try out the Harmony ones. They do look pretty well made and robust and quick on and off.

And as greyak says, I too am a believer in practice practice or don’t bring it along.