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The Kayak Paddle Float Rescue

If you're going to hit the water on your own, you need to be comfortable with some self-rescue skills. Personally, I couldn't imagine hitting the water alone without having a solid roll. But even with a good roll, you got to have a backup plan. And you need to have practiced those things enough so that you're totally comfortable with them.

The paddle float rescue uses your paddle as an out-rigger for support with a float attached to one blade.


The first thing you'll do is flip your kayak upright and inflate and securely attach the float to one end of your paddle. Remember that you're going to put a fair amount of pressure on the float, so it had better be attached well. You can then secure the paddle to the kayak by sliding the other blade under the deck bungees behind the cockpit. Or you can just hold the paddle in the coaming of the cockpit in one hand as you climb onto your kayak. Either way, the float should be as far out to the side of the kayak as possible on the side that you're getting in on.

To get up on your kayak, get your feet to the surface behind you and then, kicking hard, draw your body onto the boat. Once your body is largely out of the water, hook a foot over your paddle shaft to get some leverage. Make sure that you keep your center of gravity low and your weight on the paddle float side of the kayak so you don't go flipping over the other side.

With your chest over the cockpit, hook one leg, and then the other into the cockpit. Continuing to lean on your out-rigger, you can then corkscrew yourself into the seat, turning in the direction of the float. Once you're back in the driver's seat, you can continue to use your paddle float for support as you get your skirt on and pump the water out.

The paddle float rescue is a really neat self-rescue technique in mild conditions, but in rougher conditions, it can be really tricky. This is why you should really have a reliable roll before going paddling alone.

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