-- Last Updated: Apr-02-13 1:27 PM EST --
The pump is the primary hull clearing tool -- the sponge comes in to clean out the last amount that is not deep enough for the pump nozzle. Honestly, I have not carried a sponge in 8 years. We took in several gallons last Saturday running some short river drops in our low gunwale canoe and I was able to purge the 4" of water around my feet in the bow using my bilge pump in about a minute flat. Would have taken forever with a sponge. Plus a good pump is terrific for water cannon fights :-)
I would second the suggestion for a spray skirt. Helps delay hull swamping in a capsize or lean over, is a real boon in chilly water and even useful in warm weather -- paddle drip onto your lap and thighs can get really annoying and there is no way to avoid it. Also protects against sunburn when you are wearing short shorts.
Don't get a paddle leash. I don't know anybody who uses one and have been told they are more dangerous than useful -- makes sense. In open water I always carry a spare paddle on the deck.
A low profile deck bag is useful though some people don't like them because they can interfere with self rescue. If you can stash your water, dry box and snacks under the deck it's a better option.
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