Up the creek with the wrong paddle?

No, it didn’t happen to me, but it could have. I have a serious question about that.

Got stuck on a sandbar yesterday. I was able to use my Wester Red Cedar Aleut paddle to essentially pole myself off the sandbar to the channel. Wasn’t easy, but it worked. Proves the value of leverage.

The Aleut paddle is a very solid piece of wood. it looks like what it really is: a carved down 2’x4’ board.

So if I had a plastic or carbon fiber Euro paddle, would that have worked? Or would I have broken the paddle?

Anybody know the answer from experience?

Just curious, now that I’m not stuck! BTW, this is a serious question, not an advertisement for APs…


I’m not sure if it would have broken a Euro paddle, but it certainly implies to me that carrying an AP or GP as a spare is a good idea. I typically carry both Euro and GP on any given paddle outing.

None of the Above
In a kayak you can just push forward or back with your hands. If that doesn’t work it’s time to get out and walk.

no way to know without actually trying!
So go back there, get stuck again, and try it this time with a Euro paddle, carbon fiber preferred.

My bet is it’ll work just fine. What’s the prize for proving it? :wink:

Not this muc!
Notorious for capturing stupid kayakers! Walking was not in order, I’m afraid.

Technique is important
If you have a Euro carbon or fiberglass paddle there is a preferred method for pushing off. Assuming you want to push off backwards from the sandbar plant the paddle into the sand at or just in front of your feet. The paddle should be at a 30 to 40 degree angle with the ground. Now you can apply force dircetly down the shaft so you are not bending the shaft or the blade. The paddles are much stronger this way than if you planted it more vertically and kind of used a reverse stroke motion to pry yourself off the bar.

You might need to use a couple of pushes and replants to get off since this method only lets you move the boat a little at a time.


Ditto for Mermaid walk …

– Last Updated: Nov-13-12 12:46 AM EST –

Yeah ... no need to break your paddle. If you know how you can lay the paddle parallel to the boat in one hand ...and just a hand on the other side and do the Mermaid walk or just use both hands.


handy beater
The main reason I carry my “beater” storm paddle on the deck (a sturdy 72" GP carved from a chunk of oak and heavily coated with marine grade varnish) is that I can use it as a pole for extracting myself from the sand and gravel bars and mucky silt shelves I am apt to encounter in my local waters. I hate to risk beating up my primary paddle, a one piece laminated WRC GP, in such endeavors and would hesitate to use any of my 2-piece Euros either.

Have also used the beater as an impromptu tent pole and would not hesitate to employ it as defense against any pirates or Krakens that ever threatened my progress. Would probably serve as a passable cricket bat, too.

There are some situations where hand
walking, depending on the angle at which one is stuck, does not work.

I have used fiberglass, plastic, and carbon fiber at different times over many years for push offs.

I had a fiberglass blade get a chip broken out of it and a carbon fiber which showed a bit of chipping on the end of the blade. Overall, they all worked fine.

Fortunately, I have a friend that repaired both for me. We’re much more careful now.

Poling with paddle
Next time get out and move the boat if you value your paddle.

Quick mud? I think not!
This stuff is not hard packed, it’s the stuff you sink up to your calves in. So getting out was not the wisest move to make.

But I am clear that in my haste I forgot to simply back myself out, which probably would have been easier.

On my Aleut paddle, I don’t worry, BTW.