-- Last Updated: Dec-07-12 7:57 AM EST --
I lead evening paddles in the warm weather for a large local group with lots of aging folks, many of whom are dealing with post-surgical knees, weight issues and quite a lot of weakness in the upper body. I and the other trip leaders usually spend some amount of time helping newer paddlers, many of whom are also older paddlers, out of their boats back at the launch. My concerns about the risk of this device are based on actual experience.
The shift of weight to a non-sitting position that is pictured for this device is the most dangerous phase, and the one that has most sends people into the water or the boat sliding sideways away from the dock. The physical position pictured, with the paddler crouching while still fully above the cockpit, sets up a risky balance point.
For the scenario pictured, if there is a problem I tend to get the person's upper body weight over the dock earlier. Then the worst that happens is they get wet legs and someone has to retrieve their boat.
I am able to get in and out of a boat just about any way I need, without any device including a paddle. It is necessary for the places we prefer to paddle. But this device sets up as many risks as it solves issues.
Using the back deck as a transition point, as suggested by Kudzu, is device-free and keeps the weight low enough to help be safer. I use that for things like tall docks and have advised others to do the same if the paddle as a brace isn't working for them. Sometimes it doesn't due to strength issues, but mostly it helps.
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