Spare paddle for white water? And where?

-- Last Updated: Jul-11-11 9:54 PM EST --

Where do WW paddlers keep their spare paddle? It's usually too long to fit inside the boat. But leaving anything on the deck is usually just an invitation to lose it on a wave.

For day trips, a spare is probably the exception rather than the rule. But I can see for multi-day trips, a spare might makes sense.

I've thought about a hand paddle, for in case I got my paddle strip out of my hands in a wave (or just mistake). But I can't see how I can secure it so it's accessible to me but not lose it to waves.

You can get 4-piece paddles that fit inside a whitewater boat.

spare paddle options
I have had occasion to use a spare paddle on a half dozen occasions, the most recent being last week. The most common scenario for me has been having the paddle stripped out of my grip when the blade jammed in an under water rock sieve or when I had to let go of it to avoid breaking the shaft when the paddle blade jammed between a down stream rock and the hull.

Once I broke a paddle shaft when caught in a side surf in a hole.

I generally try to secure the paddle shaft under the lacing that secures the aft floatation bag so that the grip is just behind the pedestal. On a shorter boat, the blade may need to lie on top of the rear deck or even overhang the rear deck a little, although I prefer to have the blade beneath the rear deck if possible. I suppose there is a potential for blade breakage when secured that way, but it has never happened to me. If that is a great concern, an inexpensive paddle like an aluminum shaft Carlisle might be an option. I will often carry a spare with a shaft length up to 4 inches shorter than what I usually use to facilitate storage in a shorter boat.

When secured under the air bag lacing it is quite possible to reach behind you, grab the paddle grip and slide the paddle out while still in a rapid.

For very small boats like a L’Edge, a Blackfly or a Spanish Fly there just isn’t room for a paddle of usable size to be stored so a paddle with a telescoping shaft is probably the best option:

Hands paddles

– Last Updated: Jul-11-11 9:53 PM EST –

I carry a set of hands paddles. They fit easily in the stern secured by flotation bags. A little practice is a good idea but they are not difficult to use. They are way cheaper than a 4-piece paddle. It is surprisingly easy to roll with hands paddles. And they do not have any tendency to rip off your hands. Actually they are kind of fun. There are a reasonable number of WW paddlers who use hands paddles as their main paddles.

Do not think that you can access a spare paddle in a WW boat while still on the river. Get off the river, retrieve the spare paddle, and go on from there.

You’re talking about canoe
Kayaks are a lot shorter. (and kayak paddle a lot longer) My boat isn’t “very short” by kayak standard but it’s

I was talking about canoe paddles and didn’t realize you were talking about a decked boat. Most decked boaters go without a spare, but on a gorge trip I think a set of hand paddles makes the most sense.

On a group trip it might be a good idea for one individual to carry a take apart paddle. If you are accompanied by an open boater you might ask them to carry a TAP for you. I have been asked to do so quite a few times.

With today’s short whitewater K1s a double-bladed TAP with more than 2 components would be required to store the paddle in the boat. But you could also carry a single-bladed paddle with a telescoping shaft which would be quite easily stowed, and paddle the boat that way.

hand paddle
"A little practice is a good idea but they are not difficult to use. They are way cheaper than a 4-piece paddle. It is surprisingly easy to roll with hands paddles."

Yes, I can roll with hand paddle quite well (while my hand roll without aid is still spotty).

And I had played with hand paddles a bit and found it “interesting”! (workable nonetheless) :o]

That’s where I got the idea of spare paddle. Though I seem to recall hearing mentioning of hand paddle accessible while on the river…

First off
If you intend to do a lot of whitewater, you’ll want to learn to hold onto your paddle. If you find yourself losing it on a regular basis, you are probably doing something wrong that you need to adjust for.

Maybe a tighter grip in the rapids, maybe you are plunging it too deep in the shallow spots, maybe your brace is too vertical… Get used to holding onto the paddle unless there is just no choice but to let go – even when swimming. Boats are easy to locate – paddles get lost pretty easy.

The typical whitewater kayak has no room for a one-piece spare, so your options are the breakdown (typically a 4 piece), handpaddles, or a single blade spare. You obviously need to practice if your spare is different from your primary. If you do a spare, don’t skimp with an inferior blade or a “rec” paddle. The spare has to stand up to the same kind of rapids where you just broke/lost your primary paddle – it needs to be solid.

I paddle a 7 foot playboat, so I just go without a spare right now. I have lost the paddle with one hand a few times, but I’ve never broke or or had to let go in hundreds of Class II and Class III rapids. It will probably happen one day and I’ll either have to paddle with a broken paddle, use a friend’s spare, or walk out. After that, I may be more incentivized to buy a good 4 piece breakdown.

if it could happen, it will
"It will probably happen one day and I’ll either have to paddle with a broken paddle, use a friend’s spare, or walk out. After that, I may be more incentivized to buy a good 4 piece breakdown."

Well, you realize it WILL happen one day!

That’s incentive enough for me to explore options of spares.

As it stands, hand paddle and/or canoe paddle are the less expensive options, while a 4-piece the ideal though most expensive.

Always have a spare
4 piece for me, 3 piece for my husband because his boat is longer, stashed under the rear split float bags in the WW boats. As far as I know, everyone we have done WW with has a spare tucked in there. The only thing is that you have to think about whether you want to travel with it in the boat or in the car when you drive home.

If I had a spare, it would have to be stowed which means it does me no good until I get to shore. If I lost/broke my paddle, I’m probably in something ugly, so my first option is to tuck tight and ride it out and go for a hand roll then hand paddle to shore (or an eddy). If that fails, I swim and self rescue, or maybe someone tosses me a rope.

Once on land, the first option is to recover/repair my paddle. Failing that, borrow a spare from someone in the group. Failing that, make a makeshift paddle and run easy lines. Failing that, I walk out.

So, if my paddle can’t be recovered/fixed, no one else has a spare, and I can’t improvise something, then I walk. If I ever have to walk out (or see someone have to), I will be in the market for that nice breakdown paddle.

OC1 A full sized paddle can be put under the air bag lashings

C1 or k1 You need a breakdown. Canoe paddles to look at are the Aquabound edge and Select c1 both are offered in breakdown.