Kayaking Safety Update:
For a long time I struggled to come up with a system which would stabilize me enough to let me enjoy kayaking again. My solution and its placement on my website was met with concern by some, and rightfully so. I was strapped into the kayak, and my hands were strapped onto the paddle shaft. The concern was focused on the fact that I was strapped in with no chance of escape if I should flip over. I love paddling so much I was willing to take the risk and besides I wasn’t even sure if I would float.
Recently I became aware of a piece of commercially available adaptive equipment which allows a paddle to be used without having ones hands fastened on the shaft. The device is available at Creating Ability where they also have special seats and kayaks available for individuals with disabilities. The following explanation of the paddle grips was taken directly from the Creating Ability website.
"For those who are not able to grasp the paddle shaft, a problem exists. Attaching the hand to the paddle tight enough to allow the handler to forcefully apply a stroke means that it's likely that the paddler won't be able to drop the paddle when necessary. We've solved this with a two-part system. The paddler wears a wristband that is fitted by way of the Velcro strap. The wristband then slides into the paddle attachment, allowing rotation without releasing. However, it releases easily by sliding the hand out, maximizing safety. This makes the grip completely safe and allows the paddler to have absolute control, even without having any grip strength."
My kayak is a Perception Prodigy 10 chosen for reasons I explained in Kayaking. With my hands not strapped on the paddle, they would now be available to free myself if I flipped over. The ratcheting cargo strap is my own creation and has nothing to do with Creative Ability. I decided to create my own release system. I began by purchasing a used aircraft seat buckle on line. We then took the ratcheting cargo strap that I secure myself with in the kayak and cut it into two pieces. One end of the strap was passed through the buckle part of the strap with a D-ring sewn onto the excess strap. This also allows us to adjust the buckle. The other end was sewn on the male end of the seat belt buckle. Now I can reach down with my right hand and release the cargo strap, providing greater control and safer kayaking. A video of this procedure will be posted shortly.