15 January 2013

DIY: paddle retention on kayak deck

A few years ago I came up with a great on-deck retention system for split paddles.
It was also just about then that I stopped using Euro style paddles and transitioned to Greenland paddles. The new style became my regular paddle and soon I totally abandoned the fat blades.
My spare paddle became a shorter version of the full length GP (also known as "storm") or a slip sectional full size one.
While the split Euro paddles fitted well on the front deck, I did not like carrying the Greenland storm on the front deck.
Some argue that a spare paddle should be readily available in case the main one (the one in the hand) is lost; in ten years it has not happened to me once. I also use a paddle leash most of the times so I minimize the risk of parting company with my paddle. It is a risk that I am now willing to take that if one day I will loose a paddle I will have to reach for the spare paddle behind me. Then again I often wondered if I would have the presence of mind to grab that half paddle in front of me anyway, in the heat of the battle.... probably not.
I am happy to carry my spare on the rear deck, to create an uncluttered front deck.

NLP on rear deck_2

The kayaks in my fleet all have bungee cord on deck for the retention of miscellaneous gear that one wants to access while on the water. Some kayaks have strategically arranged these bungee in view of carrying a spare paddle. The idea is to slide the paddle under the bungee and hope to retain the paddle.
My experience however shows that if the bungee is not highly tensioned those paddles tend to creep out in heavy seas and occasionally dislodge in surf.
Sliding the full length of the paddle under tensioned bungee is often tricky while I scratch the shiny gel coat (considering resale value).
I wanted a system that retains my paddle but would not require a slide.
On my expedition kayaks I devised a flat strap with a Fastex buckle.

paddle retention_4

It worked well; I could attach my split Euro paddle there with little fuss.
With the storm GP there is only one shaft (loom) and the buckle of the Fastex clip was not working well there: it would slide and become loose.
Borrowing the idea from my simple paddle leash I now use this system for my spare paddle retention.

paddle retention_2
laminated Western red cedar storm Greenland paddle by Greg Schwarz

paddle retention_1
heat-shrink over the bungee joint

Removing/attaching the paddle is very simple: I just pop the bungee loop off the little plastic ball.

paddle retention_3
retention system released

While the bungee retention system works very well for paddles I recently found out that it works also in anger when I need to attach something on the rear deck quickly.
One of my camera mounts failed in heavy seas and I had to stow it away as it was dangling in the water with my camera still attached (I did NOT loose that one this time!).
I had to jump in the water, take down the remaining mount and attach it to the deck, while bobbing up an down in waves (I was also happy to be wearing a PFD). The bungee and ball system worked very well allowing a swift attachment of the hardware that I would not be able to carry any other way.
Reentered and rolled, pumped the water out of the cockpit and I was sailing again on my way in minutes.

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