Spare paddle - forward or aft deck?

I have seen spare paddles carried on both the forward deck and the aft deck. What location do you use and what are the pros and cons?

Much easier to grab. It will be a major pain trying to reach a paddle on the aft deck when you need it.

I also prefer the foredeck…
but it depends on your paddle blade style, the height of your foredeck, and the rigging on your boat. Some Euro blades can be unwieldy up front on high decked boats. And I don’t trust bungies anymore. Prefer cords/sliders which can be installed by most enthusiasts.

And we really need to decide if this is a ‘spare’ paddle or a ‘rescue’ paddle. Do you have a roll? Can you do it with half a paddle? Or are you more concerned with shaft breakage or loss in the wind?

If its simply a spare paddle then aft carry is often easier, more secure with common commercial rigging, and presents less of a wind catch on most kayaks.

In short, I think ‘spares’ can go wherever while ‘rescue’ paddles should be up front.

Next spring I’ll be working a new protocol using GPs. My rescue paddle will be up front (a 2 piece Beale), and I’ll have to learn to roll with half of that paddle. Once I’m back up I can stabilise a bit and assemble both halves.

Your skills and the waters you paddle will really have the greatest determination of your spare/rescue carry method.

PLeasant waters to ya.


Mines more of a spare I quess…
I like it on the back deck so it won’t deflect spray up at me… I have never needed to use it but it’s nice to know it’s there…

…I’m always afraid that it’s going to slip off

and I won’t know about it.

Or more likely that one of my paddling companions

will try to take it so thay can swat the flies

off my neck.

I carry mine on the back, but only
because it works better with my deck rigging and I haven’t taken the time to install something on the front. All things being equal (which they never are), I would put it on the front.

Many sources (reading, DVD)
I’ve seen it suggested that the back deck should be kept relatively clear for a self-rescue and re-entry. Having the spare back there–unless it is bungeed waaaaay to the rear (where you couldn’t get it without a capsize if you were on the water) — seems like it would hinder re-entry. But I will be watching this post to see what others say for your good query.

Follow the Flatpick
Mine goes on the bow with the shafts in cool looking black plastic pipe elbows. My new paddle doesn’t slide in as easily though, because the button seems bigger or maybe the shaft is a bit larger. That’s only a problem when I’m using a GP with the Cyprus as the spare.

I’ve tried mine on the back
and found that it did not hamper re-entry if I had the flat end of the blades nearest the rear of the cockpit. What I didn’t like was constantly wondering if the spare was still in place while paddling. I’d hate to lose a paddle because I didn’t notice it slipping off.

On the front deck, I always know it’s there. I need to work on a better way to secure it, because although the bungies hold it nicely, heavy surf crashing over the front deck can move it around too much. Also, I would prefer to have the ferrule ends near me in the front, as they would be easier and quicker to grab and assemble when the paddle is needed. As a roller, being able to grab the paddle, or even 1/2 a paddle would be vital in avoiding a wet exit.

I would prefer to be able to carry both a euro and a GP, but I have yet to figure out a way to store a GP. The deck of my Nordkapp is too contoured for a full length GP to lie on the deck. I have not has a storm paddle to try yet, maybe that would fit better.

Re-entry, rear paddle
Part of me readily admits that as a rescue paddle my spare should be on the front, but when I add things like the chart and the GPS, then there is the camera, I start feeling like it’s getting kinda cluttered up there. I know I can get to my spares behind when I am upright or swimming, but upside down while still in the boat would likely be a no go.

For the meantime, I am anticipating the upside down/no paddle moment by paddling with company in bigger stuff and carrying a BackUp RollAid device on the front deck. I also want to work up enough of a balance brace and roll combo for each side over this season so that I could roll up with something quite low profile like a less bulky piece of wood or foam that would fit more easily on the front deck than a paddle. Based on progress in weekly pool sessions, that should be a pretty realistic goal if I can also correct my habit of exiting the boat too easily.

As far as rear deck paddles being in the way for something like a paddle float or assisted rescue, have done so plenty of times in practice and not found paddles on the rear to be an issue. Remembering to spin the tow belt so it’s not in my way is usually the biggest problem. (I tend to wear it front or side, since I found that it really gets in the way of sliding back up onto the rear deck if in back.) But my current boat has a real nice low rear deck, and I suppose things on the back deck could be more of an issue if it were a high rear deck.

When not if they get loose
Front deck affords ability to re-secure them once they get loose. Rear deck bye-bye and you may not even know it has happened. I have seen folks lose their spares and not realize it. There are ways to afix them up front without clutter, imo. Yes no one way for all of course, but these are real concerns that need be addressed regardless.


Got any pics
of how you have the pipe elbows rigged?

Fore deck clutter

– Last Updated: Feb-20-06 9:34 AM EST –

In my Aquanaut in order for paddles on the foredeck to not cover my chart, they are too far forward to reach easily and they kick up spray. I really like trying to keep my foredeck as clean as possible.

Though maybe not best for guides and coaches, I keep my paddles on the aft deck using a system suggested by Steve Maynard's boat as rigged in 2003 or 2004. The shafts are through short pieces of pvc pipe. I've lined the pipe with 1/8" foam to provide enough resistance to prevent sliding. Been through pretty intense conditions so rigged and have yet to loose a paddle. They do not get in the way of re-entries.

I have been able to reach them easily, without turning around, though admit that it would be very difficult to put them back in place in rough conditions.

I haven't thought through a system for my Romany, so far I just stick them under bungees on the aft deck. They've held in place through surfing, 30 knot winds and re-entries.

Timely Thread For Me
I have not been carring a spare paddle and don’t understand what a rescue paddle is as opposed to a spare paddle. I have made my old Lightning one piece paddle into a take apart paddle and plan to use it as my spare.

I have been considering fore deck and aft deck and believe I will use the back deck in order to keep my fore ceck clear of clutter. I practice a wet re-entry and roll rather than a paddle float re-entry so am not as concerned with rear deck clutter. I have been considering various mounting methods and I am going to have to add some rigging to do it right. I am looking around for a hard rubber wall clip as would be used for hanging a broom or rake but not found exactly what I want. I am thinking of a couple of new bungies for the blade and the hard rubber clip for the shaft. Interesting thought about the black pipe elbow, I will think that through and see if that would work for me. I also plan to affix a sheet of 1/16 inch rubber to the deck where the blades will be to protect the deck.

I am working myself up to getting offshore more this season and this is one of the things I want to get done in prep for that.

Happy Paddling,


Rear Deck Carry Practice

– Last Updated: Feb-19-06 11:27 AM EST –

I like my front clear. Only thing there usually is my compass. (Nice clean foredeck and storm paddle on the rear deck.)

For rear deck spare carry, practice accessing the spare in a capsize and rolling up with it. This applies to storm paddle, or half a Euro blade. With the Euro, roll up and then retrieve the other half to connect.

If you lose your main paddle and have to swim, then the rear deck carry is not an issue for a self rescue. Get it out, reconnect and stow it securely on the foredeck and then proceed with self rescue, or re-entry and roll.


Savvy Paddler

– Last Updated: Feb-19-06 8:02 AM EST –

A very good book, as many of you might know, suggests a couple things pertinent to this thread. First, author suggests not using bungees but actually using pull cords... what is the word I'm looking for here... like a one inch nonflexible tie-down type strap with quick release buckles. These are not springy like bungee shock cords and are less likely to lose paddle in a wave or roll. Second, like Mark is posting, the author suggests a thin piece of minicell at areas where the blade contacts the deck, not only for deck protection, but also for keeping the slippery paddle more stationary on the slippery wet deck ... the thin minicell actually gives a little and hold the paddle in place on the deck (perhaps the rubber you suggest would hold too, Mark, but sometimes rubber gets slick when wet). The Savvy Paddler book and minicell (to get the 1/8 - 1/4 inch stuff) are both available on eBay. Seem to be good ideas.

Securing the Spare
In addition to PVC segments with holes drilled so that they run thru the rear short bungie, so no side to side motion, I also run a stretchy velcro strap around the ends of the paddle (broken down Euro) at the far end just beyond the end of the tubing. Tight enough to keep them from going anywhere, but stretchy so that I can still pull them out. Once I am in full paddling season, like multiple times per week, I also remember to take off the drip rings so they won’t be an issue as I pull thru the deck bungies. (Over the winter I tend to store them on the paddle) As long as I remember to stow the paddle with the blades near the back of my cockpit, I can get to them. Flexibility is not at all a problem for me.

I’ve seen a variety of systems, can’t say that I’ve seen anyone use a combination of the tubing and a stretch velcro strap though. It’s kept the spare secured while pounding thru stuff up to 5 ft, and a lot of side wash from up to 3 ft. And it is pleasantly low tech.

I just kinda adopted the rescue paddle nomenclature from a higher up poster - I like the idea of thinking in terms of functionality that way. Spares are valuable no matter what, since material failure can always happen and take you by surprise. Especially since on rocky coastlines there are times when I’ve missed oon the guess of what the profile would be when the tide was a few feet higher and have had to fully sit on the paddle shaft for a moment to to slide into the boat.


– Last Updated: Feb-19-06 10:42 AM EST –

these tubes (standard waste elbows) mounted 'securely' on the bow are THE way to go.

they're cheap. you can roll up with 1/2 a spare. (well, I can) they're outta the way for stern rescue work.

most everyone I paddle with has this set-up.


Paddle holders
Here are pictures of the way we hold our spare paddles on the fordeck. The plastic tubes are sink elbows that have the flange cut off so they sit nicely on the deck. In surf this setup keeps the open end of the paddle from catching water and becoming dislodged.


I keep mine on the aft.
The only problem I’ve encountered doing that was during a tow. The tow line hung up on one the shafts. Never had a re-entry problem with them there, nor any loss of paddles over the years.

I like my front deck clear - chart and compass only.