Kayak Paddles That Stay Afloat

Are you a kayaker looking to enhance your self-rescue skills? Then you’ve probably heard of the paddle float rescue technique. This method involves using an inflatable bag, known as a paddle float, attached to the end of your paddle to stabilize your kayak as you reenter it. It’s a simple yet effective way to regain control of your kayak, especially in rough waters.

Some argue that the paddle float rescue is outdated and unnecessary, but I strongly disagree. While there may be alternative methods like the reentry and roll technique, the paddle float rescue serves a unique purpose. It not only offers another way to get back into your kayak but also builds confidence in beginner kayakers. Imagine being able to navigate calm waters without worrying about capsizing and having the assurance that you can easily recover if it happens.

It’s true that beginners may struggle with the paddle float rescue in rough waters, but that shouldn’t deter us from teaching it. Just like with any skill, practice is key. By gradually increasing the difficulty level in controlled environments, beginners can become proficient in using the paddle float rescue even in demanding conditions.

Rather than setting unrealistic expectations for beginners, let’s empower them by providing the necessary tools and knowledge. Just as we wouldn’t expect a beginner to master advanced strokes without practice, we can’t dismiss the paddle float rescue without giving it a fair chance.

Moreover, the paddle float rescue can still be valuable for experienced kayakers. Consider a situation where a kayaker dislocates their shoulder and can’t perform a roll. In such cases, the paddle float rescue, coupled with a rescue stirrup, becomes a lifeline. It allows the kayaker to regain stability until help arrives.

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Now that we understand the significance of the paddle float rescue, let’s delve into how it’s done.

How to Execute the Paddle Float Rescue

  1. Begin by wet exiting the kayak and keeping one leg in the cockpit to free up your hands.
  2. Attach the paddle float to the end of your paddle and inflate the bag, securing it firmly.
  3. Right the kayak by pushing and scissor-kicking near the bow to drain excess water from the cockpit. Maintain a firm grip on the boat as you move towards the bow.
  4. Position yourself behind the cockpit with the paddle between you and the cockpit.
  5. Use the hand closest to the cockpit to grab the paddle shaft and the cockpit coaming. With your other hand, reach across the rear deck and grab the perimeter deck line.
  6. Let your legs float to the surface and then lunge up onto the rear deck. For added support, hook the angle closest to the paddle shaft over the shaft itself.
  7. Once on the rear deck, hook the ankle of your foot that is furthest from the shaft over the shaft.
  8. Slide your leg nearest the cockpit into the cockpit.
  9. Hold the perimeter deck line and slide it under the leg that remains on the shaft to grab the shaft securely.
  10. Swing your other leg into the cockpit.
  11. Stay low and slide further into the cockpit until your buttocks are level with the seat.
  12. Spin around in the direction of the paddle shaft until you’re facing forward in the cockpit.
  13. Secure the paddle shaft between your life vest and the cockpit coaming, leaning slightly forward to ensure it stays in place. Utilize the paddle float for added stability.
  14. Put on your spray skirt.
  15. Create a gap in the skirt big enough to insert your pump and remove any water from the cockpit.
  16. On calm water, deflate the paddle float by opening the valves and submerging it in the water with your paddle. The water pressure will squeeze out the air. If the water is rough, partially or fully deflate the paddle float while still using it for support. Secure it under your bungee cords or paddle to shore with the float still attached to one blade, relying on it for stability when necessary.
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By following these step-by-step instructions, you can master the paddle float rescue and add a valuable skill to your kayaking repertoire.

The Best Paddle Floats

To ensure a successful paddle float rescue, it’s essential to have a reliable paddle float. One excellent option is the Seattle Sports Dual Chamber Sea Kayak Safety Paddle Float. With its dual chambers and sturdy construction, it offers optimal buoyancy and stability during rescue situations.

In conclusion, despite the arguments against it, the paddle float rescue remains a worthwhile technique to learn, teach, and practice. Not only does it instill confidence in beginners, but it also provides a valuable tool for more advanced kayakers. Remember, mastering the paddle float rescue doesn’t mean disregarding other techniques like rolling. It simply adds another essential skill to your kayaking toolkit.

What are your thoughts on the paddle float rescue? We’d love to hear from you. Share your opinions and experiences in the comments below.

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