Surfski PFD leash questions

I know I need to use a leash in a surfski, but the idea of being dragged by my leg doesn’t amuse me…

Is it safe to attach a leash to the PFD side and the other end to a bungee cord behind the cockpit? I mean is it safe in terms of strength, and the direction I could be pulled from (i marked the proposed points on images)

What would be optimal length? Can it be ~1m long?

Also if I still use a relatively short paddle leash attached near my legs - is there a risk of the leashes entangling with each other?

Last question - should I detach the leash near the shore, in a surf zone?

This is the set up I use and I’m pretty satisfied with it. I switched to a coiled, heavy duty SUP leash and replaced the attachment point with a carabiner. Mine is pretty long, but I’d say a good six feet would be minimum.

Thanks. And do you also use paddle leash or only the PFD one?

Only the pfd. I can’t remember why exactly, but I was once told that a paddle leash was inneffective.

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Bungees are not strong enough to use as an attachment point in any serious conditions. If it’s mostly flat and the consequence of a runaway boat is low then it’s probably fine, but if it’s windy or wavy, a bungee will snap in a second.

You should remove the leash when entering the surf zone, so if you’re being drug by your leg, you screwed up a couple minutes prior by not detaching your leash.

Conversely, in open water you never want your leash to detach or break, so having secure attachment points is very important.

I attach my leash to my foot strap because it is very robust. I prefer a calf attachment on myself, as it keeps the leash out of the way and shortens the ‘leg lever’ if it does get an unexpected tug. I use a 6 foot leash. 3 foot will probably be too short when you are in the water.

I also use a paddle leash attached to my PFD because I like being able to let go of the paddle and not worry about it during remount or just relaxing off shore


Ok I’ll tie the PFD leash to the side handles - they are rock solid. And no issues of entanglement between the leashes? And do youvdetatch the paddle leash in surf zone as well?

I never really thought about it, but never detach my paddle leash.
For the most part I dont play in the surf because the risk of breaking your boat goes up 1000x in the surf. Also I do not have good long breaks around me, so there is a very short window where the wave is ride-able before going critical.

The few times I have, only twice have I really taken a thrashing. Once I got caught inside by an outlier behind me and was still clipped in. I took a 4 foot barrel right on top of me, then was pulled most of the way into shore getting drug behind the boat with my head mostly below water. It was bad times and also the last time I decided to FAFO in the surf. In this case I had both leashes attached and was drug in by my leg. No entanglement surprisingly despite the thrashing.

The other time I was unleashed. Similarly, I was caught inside by an outlier behind me. a head height barrel collapsed right on me. The boat ran away to shore. I swam in dragging my paddle behind me on its leash (its 1000x easier to swim when not holding a paddle, so this is another reason I like the paddle leash). So I swam into the beach not too far behind my boat, no real thrashing here…but…my boat wash in sideways as can be expected, and found the ONLY fist sized rock on the whole beach, hit it sideways, and split my seam about 12" right at the bucket.

It was an easy fix, but my point is, even if you are unclipped and not thrashed/pulled by waves, the risk of breaking stuff in the surf does not justify the reward near me. (I say near me because with better surf conditions, shorebreak surfing can be done more safely and with greater reward when the break is longer, more predictable, and builds more gradually).

Last, I have only had leash entanglement happen once or twice in a thousan paddles, so I deem it a relatively low risk. I also have an engrained muscle memory when I fall over - inside arm hugs the boat as I go in, outside arm keeps the paddle to the outside as I enter the water, then lets go, positions boat, position paddle for remount, remount, go!

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