Ontario Tourism

Double Kayak Paddle Float Recovery

By Wayne Horodowich

The traditional re-enter and pump recovery usually performed by doubles partners takes advantage of the support provided by the second paddler. In a single kayak you need to have another means of support if you are alone. We have seen the paddle float used for that support. A paddle float can also be used for recoveries with double kayaks just as you would use it in a single kayak except you have some additional options.

There may be times when you may need the support of a paddle float even though you have a partner to help stabilize. Perhaps you need more stability than your partner can provide. Maybe your partner is injured or sea sick and cannot help very much. Perhaps you need some help from the outrigger to get into the cockpit. Regardless of the reason, the use of a paddle float or floats for doubles is a nice option to have available.

I recommend that each paddler in a double kayak have their own paddle float and pump. Not only for redundancy but both can be used during the recovery depending on your needs.

While the kayak is upside down one or both of the paddlers can inflate their paddle float(s). If you need two hands free you can lay back with the support of your PFD and keep one leg in your cockpit to keep in contact with your kayak.

After inflation of the float(s) the kayak needs to be righted. Since doubles are heavier (especially if they are full for a trip) both paddlers will probably need to work together to get the kayak upright. One can push up while the other can pull it over. Remember you can use the paddle with float attached and inflated for support when pushing up or reaching up to help pull the kayak over.

Of course constant and clear communication is essential at all times when working with your doubles partner.

Once the kayak is upright it may be a good idea to check the rudder and cables before you get back into the cockpit because it is difficult to get to them when you are seated in the kayak.

As with the solo paddle float recovery you try to get your body weight onto the kayak deck then you can use the outrigger for support. At the same time your partner can be on the opposite side providing support as you try to re-enter. Being on opposite sides makes it easier to provide a counter balance.

If both paddlers made outriggers with their paddle floats, then trying to re-enter from opposite sides gives you and your partner incredible stability due to having outriggers on both sides. In essence you have increased the width of your beam more than triple its original size.

As mentioned earlier, the paddle float provides the extra stability that your partner may be unable to provide.

The greatest advantage to using the paddle float is when you need to stabilize the kayak when the second paddler tries to climb back into their cockpit. If you do not have a reliable sculling brace then the paddle float will give you all the stability you need while your partner does his or her thing.

Again, if two outriggers were being used then you could have stability in both directions.

Once the second paddler is in their cockpit and all adjustments have been made then you can pump out the kayak.

One or both of you can pump. Given the extra volume in doubles it would be quicker if both paddlers pumped. You can still use the stability of the outrigger(s) while you pump out the kayak.

You can also have one of the kayakers paddling while the other is pumping if you were in a hurry to get somewhere. I personally find more stability when my kayak is moving versus sitting still in seas that are bouncing me around. You can switch off when one gets tired of pumping. If the cockpits are separate then both paddlers will eventually have to pump.

When you need to take the paddle float off of the paddle(s), the other paddler can perform a sculling brace for support or they can just paddle forward.

Most times the standard re-enter and pump recovery will work with double kayaks. When you need that extra stability then you can take advantage of the support provided by the outriggers created by using your paddle float

As with singles, you could use the outriggers when you need to take a break and you want extra stability. Perhaps you want to have lunch &/or you want to kick back for a little stretch in the cockpit and you need that extra stability. Having and using your paddle float(s) while paddling a double kayak gives you some very nice options.


Wayne Horodowich, founder of The University of Sea Kayaking (USK), writes monthly articles for the USK web site. In addition Wayne has produced the popular "In Depth" Instructional Video Series for Sea Kayaking.

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