Kayak Update 2016 & 2017
Finally, after years of trial and error the point has been where I am both stable and secure in my kayak and can escape if necessary. Up to now I have only paddled in a friend's pond because I did not feel safe enough or stable enough to take the kayak out into larger bodies of water. Reaching this goal is a good reason not to accept failure as an outcome.
There are several adaptions that have been made to produce the stability that I feel now. Early on as one can read in Kayaking I purchased a stadium seat for around $35 to use in my kayak. Because of my quadriplegia I have very little upper body stability. The seat did not do much to improve it. I had to be strapped in the kayak and my hands strapped on the paddle in order to go. There would have been no chance of escape if I were to flip over.
After some time I began to realize the back of the stadium seat needed to be raised. I took the stadium seat to a machinist who raised the height of the back by five or 6 inches. Then I got a set of chest laterals and placed them on the back. After removing the stadium seat's bottom the heightened back was attached to the molded seat of the kayak and fastened in place. Contrary to what you might think this proved amazingly stable.
The other change that was made was using handle adapters purchased from Creating Ability on the shaft of my kayak paddle. This adaption is discussed fully in Kayak Safety Update where there is an explain the changes made which would allow me to get myself free if it proved necessary. In order to use this piece of adaptive equipment the paddler must wear cuffs which are attached to the wrists using Velcro. The underside of the cuff has a metal circle on it which slides into a plastic adaptive device on the paddle shaft. Once housed in the plastic the paddler slides the cuff forward locking the paddle in a narrow channel. It is not necessary to have your hands touching the paddle shaft. If you want to release the paddle you slide the cuff backwards and your hand is free.
After a long delay I went paddling this July with this new setup and it was incredibly stable. I was able to have my pontoons moved in closer to the hull and still maintain stability. After paddling for about an hour and a half I am ready to return to the different water environments that I found so rewarding prior to my accident.p>
August 2017 we went to a lake we had paddled many times before I was hurt. The hard work over the last 15 years paid off. We had a wonderful 2 hours of paddling.