Paddle floats are great devices to help a kayaker climb back into their kayak once it is flipped over. If conditions don't allow for this traditional usage for paddle floats they can also be used to help a kayaker roll a kayak back into the upright position. This self-rescue article explains how to roll a kayak using a paddle float. Click the links in each heading for further information in each step.
Time Required: 30 minutes
- Wet Exit the Kayak
If you are not already out of the kayak, be sure to flip the kayak over and wet exit the kayak in a safe manner. Upon resurfacing reaquire your paddle unless it has drifted off.
- Flip the Kayak Over and Locate the Paddle Float
Even though you will be rolling the kayak, you will still want to flip the kayak over which will drain out some of the water. Once the kayak is upright, locate the paddle float.
- Connect Yourself to the Kayak
You will want to stay connected to the kayak at all times. Put a leg in the kayak and lay back alongside of the boat.
- Slide the Paddle Float Over the Paddle Blade
Practice this step out of the water so you know how your paddle float attaches to the paddle blade. You want to install the paddle float on the blade that you will be rolling up with. Be sure to not only slide it on the blade but to secure it using the system it came with.
- Blow Up the Paddle Float
You can now begin to inflate the paddle float. Blow it up nice and tight. Be sure to shut the valve when complete so it doesn't lose air or take on water.
- Decide How You Will Reenter the Kayak
At this point you can either use the paddle float to climb back into the kayak or use it to help you roll the kayak up. You should know how to do both. This how-to will continue with how to roll the kayak back up.
- Flip the Kayak Upside-Down
At this point you want to remove your leg from the kayak and flip it back over.
- Get into the Upside Down Kayak
With the kayak upside-down, go underwater and put your legs into the kayak. Be sure you are holding the kayak paddle while doing this.
- Setup and Roll the Kayak
From here, you can roll the kayak using similar form to an eskimo roll. The difference is that the paddle float will stay primarily on the surface of the water rather than digging into it.
- Bilge Out the Kayak
Once upright you will want to bilge out the remaining water. Use the kayak paddle and paddle float like an outrigger for support.
- Practice putting the paddle float on and inflating it out of the water.
- Keep your bilge pump and paddle float secured to the top deck of the kayak, not inside of it.
- When practicing self-rescue techniques using a paddle float, be sure to remove all lose items from the inside and outer deck of the kayak.
- It is good to practice with a spotter already in the water in case you need help.