Why do I need a paddle float?

-- Last Updated: May-10-05 10:46 AM EST --

I was out paddling in some nice 1-2 foot waves yesterday and practicing some rolls in the waves, I decided to try some reentries. I exited my boat and using my Greenland paddle as an outrigger, I attempted to reenter my kayak. With the ocean cockpit and the breaking waves, there was no way I was ever going to successfully get in my kayak that way. I then simply did a quick reenter and roll which worked great. So why am I even carrying a paddle float with me?

1. My greenland paddle has enough flotation to be an outrigger.
2. The ocean cockpit isn't made for paddle float assisted reentries.
3. In times that I would need it (waves/swells/etc.), it wouldn't be an effective menthod of recovery
4. In flat water, I could perform a cowboy rescue and in more serious conditions I could reenter and roll.
5. I have never even tried a paddle float on a greenland paddle but I don't think it would fit very securely

I was out paddling with a friend and he mentioned that he brought his paddle float with him just in case he ever injured his shoulder and couldn't roll up. Of course he uses a Euro paddle which makes sense to use with a paddle float. With a greenland paddle, if I ever injured my shoulder, I could always butterfly roll up with the non injured arm.

So do I need to take the paddle float out when paddling? Should I take it just in case someone else might need it? Backup camping pillow?

I guess not!
Sounds like you have everything under control. If you are with another paddler you can assist him without the use of a float as written up in the latest SeaKayaker magazine. It does make a nice pillow or seat!

Carry it anyway
Things are different when tired - or INJURED. It could give you options (for more than just p-float rescue use). Options are always good.

Also - suggest you address #5 - and try it on your GP! It is absolutely useless untested. Mine works OK - some do not.

I never use mine either - but it takes up no real space,weighs almost nothing and I already have it - so I consider it free insurance at this point.

If doens’t seem Greenlandic enough for you - just call it modified commercial Avataq! Greenlanders have carried floats for centuries - and used them for more than just slowing down harpooned seals.

I agree.
Also remember that when you are finally back in your kayak and right side up you are still in the bad conditions that flipped you and you need to pump out water and put your skirt back on. A paddle float makes that a lot easier to do.

I bring a pump but have misplaced my pf. The pf. self-rescue is a bit of an artifact of NorthAmerican marketing to sell a “seakayak” to a person with less than “sea” kayak skills.

Haven’t Carried A Paddle Float
for almost two years. The only time I bring it is when I paddling with other folks. The GP is a fine enough outrigger. Frankly, if you got the balance brace, sculling and rolling down, there is not reason to ever come out of the boat. Unless you get caught in a big collapsing wave, or playing in rock gardens. I don’t do latter with my SOF.


Paddle-Float Reenter and Roll
One to Two foot waves are not that big. A paddle float makes the reenter and roll a hundred times easier in bigger waves or confused water. The outrigger is just the simplest use. Be creative. I agree with the others, there is no reason not to carry one.

They have other uses
Such as the already mentioned re-enter & roll aid.

But the best one I’ve seen happened when a paddler blew a hatch cover in surf, and lost it. The seas were rough enough that he wasn’t getting back to the launch without it. The leader simply collected paddlefloats from the members of the group, and inflated as many as she could inside the hatch, and then duct-taped the hatch shut where the cover should have been.

Problem solved.

Everything has more than one use.


thanks everyone for the comments
I definitely will need to try out my paddle float on my GP. If it doesn’t fit, I doubt I’ll carry it when paddling alone. I will still carry it if I’m paddling with a Euro or with other people who may benefit from using it. I have a “bombproof” roll and the probability of me swimming unitentionally is small. As for being “more Greenlandic”, lol, I don’t think I have that problem. :slight_smile: I’m the guy with NRS and AT stickers affixed to a norsaq with grippy tape on the handle. The paddle float to aid as an outrigger while pumping is also a good idea. I guess most of the functionality is based on the assumption that it can securely be tied to my paddle. That hatch cover solution is ingenious although a beach ball can seal off a blown hatch in a pinch (i’m bringing some deflated beach balls with me for longer trips).

I Made A Specific Float For The GP
using minicell foam earlier on. It’s about 2" thick x 12" long X 5" wide. There is a slot that allows the GP to slide in and is held by friction. Can’t use a regular float on a GP. As you know, it slides out.


Friction holds mine on GP…
…but only fully inflated. With less air - or one blown chamber - no good - but same with a lot of floats and EPS too. Fully inflated it’s prety darn big.

Another use variation - slide paddle through and have float centered on loom. Should be able to use it there to reenter & roll - brace up if you start going over again - and still paddle fairly normally back to calmer water (assuming you bailed - are at risk of further capsizes, etc.). Worst thing to me is figuring what to do with the darn thing after you’re back in and pumped out.

Definitely a last resort item once you’re rolling and bracing OK.

Yes, you need it
because all the pictures in CANOE & KAYAK show people with a pump and paddle float on the deck.

There are myriad uses for a blow-up inflatable thing in the water. If you encounter someone who needs to be rescued but has no pfd, it’s an instant lifesaver. If you are overcome with nausea, use it as an outrigger.

Flying the yellow flag?
If almost never used - why fly the yellow flag? I say keep it off the deck!(Same goes for pump - and just about anything else).

I know you have good technique but

– Last Updated: May-14-05 9:11 AM EST –

let's say somebody goes solo. dislocates shoulder, comes out of boat. With paddle float and a sling (inprovisable from tow line if needed) They get into their boat (after much pain) stay warmer, perhaps radio for help or just use an outrigger to drift about. IN ain they might like to really lean on the outrigger. Without paddle float they are swimming. Redundancy for safety where practical.

yes but you need to take the GP paddle
into account as well. sing had a good idea about making a custom foam paddle float but I have my misgivings as to how well my paddle float will stay on my Greenland paddle. Also in regards to a dislocated shoulder, the bouyancy in the paddle would allow me to reenter and butterfly roll up with one hand with much less effort and pain than doing a paddle float rescue. I take a spare GP out with me as well.

I am convinced that the paddle float would serve some utility to help out others and if I paddle with friends who are less skilled, I will definitely bring it along.

p-float assisted handroll
ok- so this will disgust greenlanders everywhere, but you might think about using a float to assist a handroll, in the event you injure yourself and cannot do a reenter and roll with your paddle. It is a heck of a lot easier using a float than a norsaq, or even a windowshade roll.

Why would that “disgust greenlanders”?
The developed the float and the float assisted rolls.

From Sea Kayaker June '97:

The Avataq Roll

The Greenland hunting float, or Avataq, is carried on the afterdeck. One end of the harpoon line is attached to the seal skin float, so that it can be thrown overboard to act as a drogue for a harpooned seal. In an emergency, it can be used for rolling up if the paddle is lost. A fully inflated paddle float can be carried on the afterdeck and used as a substitute for the avataq.


In Greenland competition a Hunting Float Roll or Avataq Roll is something quite different. The float is securely tied to the kayak deck to one side and is used to make rolling more difficult. It is retied and repeated on the opposite side.

yes that’s a good use for it

– Last Updated: May-11-05 12:45 PM EST –

and in that sense it is an additional rolling backup device in case I lose both my paddles. However I don't know why you said Greenlanders would be disgusted at this. Greenlanders used an air float made out of a seal bladder to aid in rolling as well as assist in bringing home the food that they hunted.

edited to add: lol, Greyak beat me to it!

by greenlanders i really meant…
the betsie bay crew, who wouldn’t dream of paddling their $5000 betsie bay kayak without the full compliment of accesories prominently displayed on deck (storm paddle, norsaq, atlatl).

no offense intended to anyone of actual inuit/alutian islander descent (who would gladly roll up with any convenient piece of flotsam).

I keep my pump and float behind the seat. If I need them, or someone else does, I can easily retrieve them.