Most of my winter paddling is done solo, and after reading about hypothermia I would like to minimize my chances of finding myself in the water. Sponsons may not be the choice of purists (to put it mildly), but I am willing to endure any barbs that may come my way if I can get the answers to these two questions: 1) can they be used inflated while paddling, and 2) if so, where can I get them?

I think Feathercraft has them
www.feathercraft.com Remember, sponsons are not a substitute for proper immersion wear.

It’s not a matter of purism…
…it’s a matter of common sense. Sponsons, like paddle floats, are least useful when you need them the most. In rough conditions, you are as or more likely to be capsized by the sponsons as to have a capsize prevented by them.

Equipment is never a substitute for skill and judgement. Learn to brace, scull and roll. Learn self and assisted rescue techniques. Stay off the water when conditions are likely to be beyond your capabilities. Never paddle alone. These things will do far more for you than any piece of equipment can.

Sponsons do have some uses, such as for additional stabilization while fishing on relatively calm water or for towing a weak or incapacitated paddler. Unfortunately, they can’t be set up on a boat that’s not rigged for them, which limits their efficacy in emergency situations.

Above all, don’t listen to that whackjob Tim Ingram. Half of what it on his website is outright lies and the rest is distortions of facts and exaggerations aimed solely at lining his pockets. If you still want sponsons, buy them from Voyageur, the company who actually manufactures them. IIRC, they are now marketing their own version that does away with the silly strap arrangement that Timmy uses (and probably allows them to bypass his patent). That way, you’re not feeding a psycho that’s trying to ram his product down our collective throats.

Don’t hold back, please tell us how
you really feel about his sponsons.

but as always, you bring up several excellent points.

SHHH! he’ll hear you!

In addition to what Brian said,
If you do capsize with the sponsons on, it will be very difficult to right your boat. They don’t care which way the boat is oriented to make capsize more difficult.

Work on the skills as was suggested.

for the info. Since I do have a farmer john and neoprene jacket, and have plenty of tidal creeks and channels in my area where I don’t need to wander far from shore during cold water season, my plan is to shelve the idea for now at least. The points regarding developing more skills are well-taken.

Never Used
I bought a set 10 years ago and never used them. For me they were a waste of money.

it’s always better to develop skills
and judgement than to rely on equipment.

Fight the power to buy more stuff. Take the time to get instruction, and learn to brace, roll, and do rescues. If you got out when it’s rough or cold, (both are fun) you owe it to yourself to do this.

Americans are funny we think that stuff makes us safe, big cars, big houses, guns, and stuff stuff stuff.

To quote Fight Club,

“I would flip through catalogs and wonder, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?” We used to read pornography. Now it was the Horchow Collection.”

Or maybe you could just buy sponsoons and not bother with learning to kayak properly…

good point
if capsized with sponsons on both sides, it may be impossible to right your boat. i’d go with brian’s suggestions of proper practice/training, proper clothing and good judgement.

Be Careful

– Last Updated: Jan-14-05 5:26 PM EST –

Especially if the water is over your head, a capsize could result in a gasp reflex. It took me about a minute or so to recover from it when I capsized in cold water.

Also, I noticed from your profile that you go out for 3-4 hours. If you were to capsize, then swim or wade to shore, you will still be wet and not close to a place to warm up. Although your body will cool down at a slower rate once you get out of the water, it will still be cooling, and hypothermia could start. I was comfortably able to paddle back after immersion in cold water for about 1/2 hour. My hands felt cold but I wasn't shivering. Of course everybody is different.