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Leashes, anyone? For our Safety

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:02 pm
by francene
Does anyone use a leash to keep yourself connected to the kayak? What about a leash from the paddle to the kayak? There was recently a fatality in Bellingham Bay where the paddler did not have either of these, and it could have helped save his life. He was using a solid fiberglass kayak.
Any opinions on leashes with these inflatables? I have the AE AF single.

Fran :shock:


Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 12:22 pm
by feldmarshal1
I use a paddle leash attached to the boat bungees to the center of the paddle. Done this way you can drop your paddle in the water and if it floats away just pull it back.
I would do this on all my boats because its just plain hard to recover a paddle in rough water or a good current. it also keeps you clear of getting tangled in it if you take a dump and have to swim for it.

Leash on Paddler

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:21 am
by francene
Yes, I have secured my paddle to the kayak as you describe. I wouldn't want to be without a paddle! But I wonder how many of us thought of tethering ourselves to the kayak? It could be a non-confining length, maybe 8'?


Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:46 am
Probably not the best idea to leash yourself to the kayak. If anything were to happen such as rolling over, you could get tangled up in the leash and end up chocking, drowning, etc. Unless you are in a swift river or strong current, the kayak won't get too far away from you.


Paddle and Kayak Leashes

Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:33 pm
by Richard
There should be some kind of leash from your paddle to the kayak. You can purchase a commercial coiled one or you can simply use a length of nylon line from the center of the paddle to the kayak. I have a leash fashioned from nylon line and it works just fine.
In response to the comment about the kayak staying "close to you" if you should find yourself in the water.... that depends on a number of factors. Current and tide were mentioned but note that if it is windy, you will very soon see your kayak being carried away from you. Unless you are a reasonably good swimmer, you may not be able to retrieve it. That is one reason why we should all be wearing a good flotation device.

paddle leash

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:32 pm
by PJohanson
After lots of practice falling out of both AE inflatables and hard kayaks on purpose, in pools, lakes and the ocean, I'll cast my vote in favour of the paddle leash.
It's really hard to hold onto a kayak with one hand and a paddle with the other and swim. Now imagine you're in 1 foot waves and maybe dislocated your shoulder.
I tie a six-foot length of deck line to my paddle, and the other end to the deck bungees. This makes the leash short enough not to tangle around my neck easily (but probably not impossible). The line costs about $2 at a sporting goods store, and they have rolls of it in pretty colours as well as black with Scotchlite reflector braided in.
The knots I use are either a clove hitch with a long end, or a round turn with a half hitch. Either is something I can untie with one hand, but is hard to accidentally untie like a slip knot. Practise!
I don't think tying the boat to yourself is a good idea. You want to be able to move all your limbs freely, and you don't want a long line that can loop around your neck.

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:01 pm
by Daddy-O
I saw this on youtube. It shows how to make your own paddle leash.

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:13 pm
by paddlesheep
I almost always use a paddle leash. I've fallen out enough that I'm confident it won't entangle me if I capsized and I've had the unlucky experience of dropping my paddle while getting in and having it quickly get away from me!

I think the real danger is that high winds can pick up an unloaded inflatable quicker than you could swim after it. If you always hold onto your paddle then you'll also have your boat.

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:39 pm
by PJohanson
As my friend learned when surfing with his 10.5 AdvancedFrame kayak, and my husband learned when surfing with his 10 foot Pamlico kayak, holding onto the paddle does NOT mean that the leash will keep the boat with you. Both guys discovered that heavy surf will grab a boat and take it away, especially if the cockpit is full or partly full of water. Both guys were left treading water with a paddle in one hand.
Each of them found that a 1/4 inch nylon line snapped clean (and the boat's bungee the line had been tied to was stretched like billy-o). Apparently a leash is strong enough to keep a slim little paddle with the boat, but a leash may not be strong enough to restrain a big wide boat pulled by pounding surf.
They still go out in surf, and they still use paddle leashes, of course. But if they fall out in the surf, they do try to get one hand on the cockpit coaming before the kayak gets away from them. And in surf, an escaped boat can usually be followed. Neither of these guys goes out in extreme conditions.

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:50 am
by paddlesheep
Surf and wind are different things. Water carries a lot of weight and power behind it. I wouldn't really want to be attached to my boat at all, especially if it was a hardshell, if I dumped in crashing surf.

It doesn't have to be extreme conditions to have the wind take a boat away from you, a light breeze can do it. And realistically that's where we'll encounter an accidental capsize in one of these things, in relatively benign conditions. Things like getting in and out at a dock, or reaching too far to grab a water bottle and losing balance. Or the wake from a ferry or large boat. These inflatables are forgiving enough to handle some pretty rough conditions.

Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:28 pm
by PJohanson
Paddlesheep is right -- it's not extreme conditions that we have to worry about, it's ordinary mild weather and modest currents.
My paddle group was talking the other day about it, and trying to get one member who paddles alone to tell a "ground crew" when he heads out and when he's off the water. As John says, when you plan a wilderness expedition or a long outing or to face extreme conditions, you do a lot of planning and are on high alert. But when you're going out for the third time this month or even week in familiar waters and mild or moderate conditions, you tend to be relaxed and can get careless.
It was during a warm summer day at a familiar lake when we were practising self-recovery and assisted recoveries that I learned the Dragonfly catches a lot of wind and will scoot away like a kite. It can move faster than I can swim after it, even when the breeze is gentle.