If you've spent much time reading about kayaking
or talking with kayakers, you'll certainly come across the term
"self-rescue". Basically, a self-rescue is a series of coordinated
movements designed to get you back in the boat in the event of a
capsize. While it is possible to re-enter without the use of flotation
aids, a paddle float is key to quickly getting back in the boat.
A paddle float is a heavy duty PVC-coated nylon bag that, when
used in conjunction with a paddle functions as an outrigger designed
to stabilize your kayak. A paddle float consists of a inflation
mouthpiece, a pocket for inserting one end of a paddle, and a web
strap to secure the float to the paddle shaft. Some paddle floats
can be used as inflatable seat back adding comfort and safety to
To Use a Paddle Float
Assuming that you've just been dumped, the kayak is floating upside
down in the water and the water is too deep to stand, here is how
to use a paddle float:
While this process sounds difficult, it is much
more difficult to swim with a kayak weighed down with hundreds of
pounds of water. Of course, if the shoreline is close, go for it.
- Reach over the kayak and grab the cockpit coaming.
- Fall backwards into the water to cause the kayak to turn rightside
- Partially inflate the paddle float and insert one end of your
paddle in the pocket on the float. Fully inflate the float. Secure
the other paddle blade under the rear deck lines on the kayak.
- While facing the kayak, place one hand on the cockpit coaming
and throw one leg over the paddle.
- Pull yourself up the kayak so you end up laying prone on the
- Be sure to keep some weight on the float as you enter the cockpit
so the kayak doesn't flip over.
- Remove the paddle from the rear deck lines. Remove the paddle
- Pump water from the kayak using a bilge pump or bucket.