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Equipment: Paddle Float

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Paddle Float 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 your kayak.

How 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:

  1. Reach over the kayak and grab the cockpit coaming.
  2. Fall backwards into the water to cause the kayak to turn rightside up.
  3. 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.
  4. While facing the kayak, place one hand on the cockpit coaming and throw one leg over the paddle.
  5. Pull yourself up the kayak so you end up laying prone on the rear deck.
  6. Be sure to keep some weight on the float as you enter the cockpit so the kayak doesn't flip over.
  7. Remove the paddle from the rear deck lines. Remove the paddle float.
  8. Pump water from the kayak using a bilge pump or bucket.
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.