homemade self rescue stirrup

SarahHargrave

New Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
9
Location
Halfmoon Bay
Hey there. I am thinking of making my own rescue stirrup, similar to the one in this video. It is just a long loop of webbing. What I am wondering about, is there any particular reason it needs to be webbing? Does having a "flat rope" like webbing have an advantage over the usual "round rope"? I ask because I don't have any webbing to use, but lots of regular rope sitting around. Thanks.

 

JKA

Paddler
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Messages
166
Location
Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
Hi Sarah,

While I note that you're keen to use the resources that you have to hand, I would offer a word of caution if using this method.

This system works if using a paddle float with no other means to secure the paddle shaft to the kayak, but it does shorten the 'outrigger' which may mean the floatation is insufficient. You will need to test it.

I used to use this system of looping around the paddle, but that was when paddle shafts were either aluminium or fibreglass. They were strong enough to withstand the load that was applied when paddlers were struggling to climb back aboard.

When paddlers started using lighter paddles, particularly those made of carbon, we had a few expensive failures. The loads were more crushing and localised, rather than the forces the shaft was probably designed for. An engineer may wish to explain that, but I just saw the resulting broken paddles.

Having said that, a few weeks ago I saw a carbon Greenland paddle break when the paddler was doing a paddle float re-entry with the paddle under the deck lines.

I'm not sure if you were planning to use it with a paddle float outrigger as shown, or a 'climb aboard' aid in an assisted-rescue. Also, does it need to be adjustable for different paddlers, ie: a guiding or instructing role, or is it to be used only for yourself? If the later it would be easier to fix the stirrup to your kayak and set the length for yourself. If it needs to be adjustable, a prussic knot makes this easy.

Here's a link to the system that I use, just ignore the contact tow part.

 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
847
Location
Bend OR USA
I just used a “plastic” floating line - like some scrap water skiing tow line. But these days, I found the heal hook method so much easier and faster. The trick is not to have the person scrunch up. There’s a tendency to move into a fetal position instead of staying elongated.

A note on carbon - engineers may be getting smarter. Maybe - try looking at a tablet in the sun with polarized glasses. But my first introduction to carbon fiber outdoor gear was xc ski poles. They were designed for the downward force of a pole plant and push. What the engineers didn’t realize is the baskets at the ends tend to pick up snow and occasionally it’s knocked off by clicking the poles together. Many an expensive ski pole shattered when knocked, mid-shaft, against its mate.

So thank you for the warning on the paddles stresses with a stirrup.

My experience has been, the float is not going to hold the boat so you can put your whole weight in the stirrup and lift yourself in. It’s just an little additional aid. If the person to be rescued listens to your instructions and kicks their feet so they are parallel to the water, they can usually “seal hop” in. It’s only when they try to climb in that the boat can go over.

But again, the heel hook, when you keep your body elongated, works great with the paddle float. Minimum stress on all components.
 
Last edited:

Sparky961

Paddler
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Messages
26
Location
BC
Is this just gear for gear's sake, or do you really think you have a reason to need a stirrup loop? I'm blessed with a very strong upper body, so scrambling works particularly well for me.

I've heard from many instructors and guides that stirrup use often results in people getting tangled up.

I also have friends with less upper body strength who do just fine with solo re-entries without the need of any gear. It's more about technique and having practiced it enough to not require much thought. In rougher conditions where waves knock you off balance, a paddle float can be added to just about any other "upright" method to make things easier.
 

nootka

Paddler
Joined
May 26, 2007
Messages
1,651
Location
Campbell River
In case of a capsize combined with some kind of injury, the stirrup could enable you to get your torso out of the water - even if you can't get back into your kayak. Mick has posted about this before.
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,028
Location
Victoria, BC
If a novice paddler who may be tired/scared/weak/overweight is trying to get back into the kayak, a stirrup could be very helpful.
There are ways of rigging a stirrup from the rescue boat without using a paddle float outrigger, as JKA has mentioned.
Making the 'step' loop with the line or webbing through a piece of PVC pipe or even contrasting (light colour) tubular webbing makes it easier for the swimmer to find the loop and insert a foot.
I think there are 'mixed opinions' on whether floating or non-floating line would be better, if using line rather than webbing.
As JKA also mentioned , a Prussik knot (or rolling hitch) allows adjustment in line. I've seen webbing stirrups with a slider buckle for adjustment.
 

Sparky961

Paddler
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Messages
26
Location
BC
I think Sara is planning equipment for a small group trip to the Broken Group.
That's fine, and it's Sarah's paddle, not mine so it's just my two cents.

The point I was trying to make was that a stirrup isn't a good substitute for experience, knowledge and skill. Without practice in different scenarios, this is a piece of gear that can quickly turn from an asset into a liability. I regularly meet people with gear they thought was required, or that some outfitter sold them, and they have no idea how to use it properly - if at all.

From the number of recent questions on the same theme, it looks like maybe Sarah is just working down a checklist of recommended gear but perhaps without knowing the why and how of it.

I'm happy to be wrong here. That's just how I was reading it.
 
Last edited:

SarahHargrave

New Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2021
Messages
9
Location
Halfmoon Bay
This system works if using a paddle float with no other means to secure the paddle shaft to the kayak, but it does shorten the 'outrigger' which may mean the floatation is insufficient. You will need to test it.

I used to use this system of looping around the paddle, but that was when paddle shafts were either aluminium or fibreglass. They were strong enough to withstand the load that was applied when paddlers were struggling to climb back aboard.

Thank you for these really good points. I hadn’t thought about how much shorter the outrigger becomes using this method. That alone is enough to make this a no go.
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,028
Location
Victoria, BC
The point I was trying to make was that a stirrup isn't a good substitute for experience, knowledge and skill.
Absolutely.
If the members of the trip group can get together with an instructor before the trip and practice some of those skills, it can be a big help in 'getting everybody on the same page'.
It's money very well spent and can actually reduce a lot of anxiety within the group.
 

JKA

Paddler
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Messages
166
Location
Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
The point I was trying to make was that a stirrup isn't a good substitute for experience, knowledge and skill.
Absolutely!

However, years ago I was regularly trying to get large men with a sub-optimal power-to-weight-ratio back into kayaks in 15 knots of sea breeze.
Using a stirrup was a game changer, so I now carry one for the times that they are unskilled, weak/cold, and lack the mobility/body shape to do a heel-hook.

Fortunately I haven't had to use one for years; maybe I'm getting better at avoidance! ;)
 

Sparky961

Paddler
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Messages
26
Location
BC
Absolutely!

However, years ago I was regularly trying to get large men with a sub-optimal power-to-weight-ratio back into kayaks in 15 knots of sea breeze.
That's very generous of you, but wouldn't it be nice if they would take responsibility for having whatever gear and well-practiced technique THEY need to get back in?
 
Top