Any re-entry type of rescue, whether a solo effort or assisted, can be taxing on the capsized paddler - sometimes to the point of near exhaustion. Using a stirrup recovery technique can literally give you one leg up on being able to re-enter your boat.
Basically a stirrup, by definition, is a “…form of a loop with a flat base to support the rider's foot…”. The key words being “support” and “foot”. From a re-entry perspective, a foothold is made from one end of a looped section of tubular nylon webbing straps that is used as a “step up” segment of a kayak re-entry rescue.
The loop is fashioned from a length of 1” diameter tubular nylon strapping formed by tying ends off in a “water” knot to form a long, complete circle (loop) of strap. The loop is then placed over a paddle straddling the kayak deck perpendicular to the deck, drawn under the boat and wrapped around the shaft at a point where it extends out beyond the beam of the kayak. Excess strapping is hung below the shaft to create a loop in which the capsizer’s foot is inserted and used like the rung on a ladder for support and upward push to rise up out of the water and onto the cockpit area.
As part of one’s safety gear, the stirrup - already appropriately looped at a proper length-is stowed within the cockpit area for quick access. Practice will help you determine the appropriate rigging set-up for your body/leg length and kayak dimensions.
The strap can be wrapped around your paddle shaft for self-rescue or to assist you in team rescue.
Be advised: this can put excessive stress on your paddle, especially two-piece shafts - and can lead to serious damage.
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