Leg leash or paddle leash

  • s513649
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6 months 4 weeks ago #40724 by s513649
Gone are the days of a 60k solo paddle wearing nothing but a Speedo! I now paddle alone in the North Sea throughout the year, and am finding using both a leg and paddle leash cumbersome and irritating, particularly when I get tangled in remount practice. I've changed to just a paddle leash. Any thoughts on advantages of using either leg or paddle only, or both?

Paddling a Swordfish S Hybrid, always paddle solo in the Noth Sea, all year long. Experienced, PE2EL, Scottburgh to Brighton, Pirates to Salt Rock, ‘Dusi, 50 miler etc, but still slow and tippy!

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6 months 4 weeks ago #40725 by Bill L
Replied by Bill L on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
When winds are blowing say 25+ and you find yourself in the water, and you (accidentally) let go of your ski, be sure that you trust your paddle leash will not snap when the ski gets caught in the wind and starts flying away.

It happened to me, my paddle leash held; but, it did convince me that a paddle leash (which tends to be lighter weight than body or leg leashes) was not enough protection, at least on the ocean or anywhere I might have to swim more than a km.

So, for many years now I have used a body leash also, self-constructed and attached to my pfd. Could I get tangled? Yes, but, I have practiced quite a bit with it, purposely throwing myself into the wrath of the sea on big wind days when I am nearing the end of my paddling session.

The key for me is to put myself and the leashes in the exact position needed to execute a successful remount. After a while I could just kind of "feel" when the body leash is in the correct place (I can easily see the paddle leash).
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6 months 3 weeks ago #40730 by zachhandler
Where are the leashes attached?

Paddle to wrist, paddle to body, or paddle to boat (and where on the boat?)

I find paddle to wrist annoying in remounts as i prefer to always grip the paddle against the far side of the bucket rim. Wrist to paddle leash prevents that half the time depending which side of the boat i am on.

I have no tangle problems if both paddle and leg leash attach to the same point on the boat, such as both to the same side of the footstrap or both to the under knee anchor point. If i have them going to separate points they are more likely to tangle in remounts.

I really like the safety of having both a paddle leash and a leg leash. Where I paddle it is often cold, far from shore, and without a coast guard or equivalent water rescue service. If I lost either paddle or boat it could be really bad.

From what I have read on this website a paddle tethered to boat will not reliably slow down a runaway ski. The ski may roll itself up in the paddle leash and keep blowing away. So for me having just a paddle to boat leash is too risky. If I had to choose just one I would take the leg leash. In fact when the water is warm and I am closer to shore I don’t always use the paddle leash.

The other reason I like a paddle leash is so that both hands can be free if I need to help someone else. I usually downwind with others and the more people there are in a group the more likely it is that somebody has a situation that benefits from assistance.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
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6 months 3 weeks ago #40731 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
I paddle off the west coast of scotland. Not icy waters, but cool all year round, and windy.

My boat is heavy, so it takes 50knot winds to pick it up.

I use a paddle leash, so I can put the paddle down to do things like take a photograph, have a snack. Leash is shockcord, tied to the footbar.

Never had a situation where I've gone in and let go of the paddle. I've had situations where the boat was pulled away from me, but, fastened to the footbar, the boat quickly orients bow-on to me and then I can grab the bow handle.

I think a paddle leash, fastened to the boat, is essential if you ever paddle on your own.

A body or ankle leash is optional. I'd prefer a body leash to an ankle leash; if it is really rough, you don't want to be pulled feet-up in the water.
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6 months 3 weeks ago #40732 by zachhandler
I am of a different mind mrcharly, though I respect your right to make your own decisions. Personally I lost a friend who got separated from his ski 3 km off shore in 14C water. In addition to being a great surfski paddler he was a competitive swim racer and whitewater paddler, about 40 years old, and super fit. He even had a buddy with him at the time but that was not enough to save him. Personally I don’t trust myself to always hold the paddle and grab the ski in every situation, even though both of those are my intention. Things are fine for the longest time, lulling us into a false sense of security. A big nasty breaking wave, hitting a submerged object, bracing hard and dislocating a shoulder - all those things and more could throw me off and I might let go of something. If i was a half mile off the beach in warm waters it my calculation is different. That is how I assess the risk for myself. I have never personally had a problem getting separated, but I have also never had an airbag go off or the seatbelt restrain me in a crash. I still want a seatbelt and airbag in my car. But unto each their own and we can make our own decisions on this.

Current Skis: Epic v10 g3, NK 670 double, NK exrcize, Kai Wa’a Vega, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X
Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Nelo 550 g2, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
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6 months 3 weeks ago #40733 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
You have a great deal more experience than I do, and in bigger conditions.

Nearly all of my paddling is solo (well, when I paddle, I've had to stop due to a bad rotator cuff injury). That means a lot of caution, mostly of the "If things go wrong, can I get myself to a safe location" sort. There are few people around here to pick up a VHF signal (let alone see you go in), moderately reliable mobile signal.

So, I am somewhat cautious. The most likely incident would be loss of paddle, maybe due to wind yanking it from my hands. I would be in serious trouble if that happened.

So, bigger conditions, or more committing passages; I agree that a body leash is a sensible precaution.

Mostly, I stay no more than 1km offshore and dress for immersion.

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2 months 5 days ago #40945 by LaPerouseBay
A 73 year old ski paddler gave me a Mocke wrist leash last week, I like it.

He got his because he does the surf witch surf thing in surf waves. He says sometimes his wipeouts are knarly and it's easier to remount with both hands. I think they have straps near the knees that need attention, or something.

The Mocke wrist leash is very well made, very comfy and easy to use. I'm glad I have it, some day it may come in handy.

I also use my trusty waist leash.

I'm a belt and suspenders person when it comes to safety stuff. I initially passed on the paddle leash due to stories of tangled leashes. It seems less likely with the tiny Mocke wrist leash.

The good thing about a waist leash is the ability to surf to shore and walk out without unclipping the boat leash.

The beaches I land on are usually full of kids. No way I'm risking losing my attachment to a ski. It could kill somebody.

Waist leashes are good for surfing, because you can jump out of the boat and remain attached. Sometimes it's better to jump out if you know the white water will mow you.

The waves I surf are pretty tame these days. If a wave gets me, I usually just hang out the uphill leg and keep the other foot hooked on the foot strap as the wave drags me sideways. Sometimes that's enough to keep me close to the bucket. If the wave rips the boat from my foot, I'm uphill, the boat keeps going, I'm still safely connected, behind the boat.

I think of it like losing a motorcycle in a turn. Just go down, let the bike go, slide behind it.

mockepaddling.com/products/wrist-paddle-leash

downwind dilettante
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2 months 3 days ago #40947 by LaPerouseBay
Here's the waist leash I use. My only modification is to remove the velcro and sew it up tight with a clip for the boat attachment. It goes around the rear handle - a super strong attachment point.

www.northshoreinc.com/store/pc/viewPrd.a...t=351&idcategory=192

Here's a landing on a beach full of people. I stumble a bit at the end because I keep forgetting about the wrist leash. I'll get used to it soon, pick up the boat and walk out quickly.



I always try to surf in and try to time the wave so that I float in on top of a wave.

Jasper explains it - in huge conditions - at the end of this video. "If you have speed, you have options."


downwind dilettante
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2 months 3 days ago #40949 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
That leash looks better than many of the ski-specific ones.

I've felt I didn't need a body leash, but I'm making trips further offshore now. Easier conditions in many ways (none of the chaos caused by islands and cliffs), but more serious consequences for a spill.

A bit of searching reveals that I can get a QR belt with attachment points for a leash; I could then use the shock cord I already have to connect that to the ski.

Body leash makes more sense than leg leash.

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2 months 2 days ago #40950 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
LaPerouse, A question for you:

I think your waist leash is attached to the rear of your ski, correct? If so, how do you stop the leash from dropping down under your backside or beside you?

That would drive me insane.

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2 months 2 days ago #40951 by LaPerouseBay
^ When seated, the leash is under slight tension.

It is very quiet on the rear deck, just laying there, in the middle. Sometimes it lifts up off the deck - if I move around a lot - but it doesn't bang on the deck like a typical surf leash does. Sometimes a big wave will grab it and drag it over the side, I can feel it, but it always springs back to rest on the deck.

A typical surf leash has no extra spring in it. You cannot swim to the front of the bucket to adjust a pedal, etc.

NSI has some nifty ideas on various waist leashes. The picture they have of the metal clip on the 'freedom' waist leash is what I use to attach to the loop around the handle on my boat.

I don't know how long that 'freedom' leash is, but it looks very similar to mine. The 'freedom' waist leash differs from mine at the point where the leash attaches to the belt. They removed the velcro. That's what I did to my river leash. I took out the velcro and sewed it up tight, using spectra fishing line.

www.northshoreinc.com/store/pc/viewPrd.a...ct=533&idcategory=77

There are many options for a waist leash, I'm very happy with mine.


downwind dilettante

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2 months 2 days ago #40952 by LaPerouseBay
If you do decide to go with a coiled ankle or calf leash, I recommend a leash with the molded swivel to coil joints. That's the strongest method at the common failure point of a coil leash.

Another weak spot is a calf leash slipping right off your leg. I learned that lesson back in my Sup days. A coiled calf leash is more tidy in the bucket than a coiled ankle leash, but if you ever get pulled, a calf leash is coming right over your foot in an instant.

That's extremely unlikely in a ski - most downwind falls are low speed, basically just rolling over when you can't quite stay upright. A ski ripping the leash off your leg is very unlikely.

But I did drop a paddle after a downwind wipeout, using a coiled ankle leash. I had to swim to it, dragging my ski behind me. Not fun. I had to sprint to get to the paddle before more white water came thru - or all was lost.

Tangled coils in my footwell is why I switched to a waist leash. A leg leash wouldn't be as much of a distraction now that I have more experience. A calf leash is fine, but not as bulletproof, or comfy in the footwell.

I had a few Epic leashes break under that wad of shrink fit covering the joint. I'm surprised Epic still uses that cheap construction on a leg leash. Lighter and cheaper yes. That poly coil is folded over and tied up in a big wad, then covered with shrink wrap.

IMO, it's fine for a wrist paddle leash, you can see it on the Mocke photo.

But a boat attachment? Yikes. That folded over part is the weak spot and it gets weaker with age.

mockepaddling.com/products/life-line-calf-leash

www.epickayaks.com/product-page/paddle-leash

Here is another problem to be ready for if you use a wrist leash. It also shows some significant tension on the boat leash. Use a good molded swivel leash. When things start to go wrong, the smallest detail matters.



This is a video in my early ski days, fussing with a coiled leg leash. I had a shoulder issue back then, so I could only enter from the right side. So, I was flipping the boat. Everyone should learn that - if you are stronger on one side or the other.



Now that I have a wrist leash, I swim around to the right side. You also need to be aware of not tangling the waist leash in the rudder as you go around.

downwind dilettante

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2 months 2 days ago #40953 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
I realised that my PFD (Peakuk Marathon Racer) has a strong, bar-tacked series of loops on the front. So if I have a QR shackle with a little lanyard, all I need is shock cord tied to the rear handle (very strong attachment point). Shock cord is cheap, meaning it is easy and quick to replace when worn. Peak do sell a SUP leash connector, that replaces the side buckles. Not sure about that positioning though.

Much rather a QR to chest/waist, as that will always be reachable. Can envisage situations where I wouldn't be able to reach an ankle strap. Also, legs free of straps makes it easier to swim.

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2 months 2 days ago - 2 months 2 days ago #40954 by Watto
Replied by Watto on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
Instances of snapped leashes at sea (rather than shore breaks/surfing waves) and a few big blows I've paddled in moved me years ago to adapt attachment to suit me.
Yes, using this I absolutely unclip coming ashore so dislocating hip/knee in shore break not an option. I use over two metres of 2mm spectra inserted into about a metre of surgical rubber, knotted at each end with extra cord for attachment to carabiner one end and loop for ski attachment/footstrap.
Pic 1 length of leash unstretched.

Pic 2 distance.

Pic 3 how far leash stretches.

Pic 4 distance

This local incident a good example. Even in the middle of a significant international event here in Perth for the 2017 Doctor with abundant support craft and temperate water, albeit blowy, Ken Dinham had a very close call! www.perthnow.com.au/news/wa/wa-ocean-pad...ariner-ng-b88671638z
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Last edit: 2 months 2 days ago by Watto.

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2 months 1 day ago #40955 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Leg leash or paddle leash

This local incident a good example. Even in the middle of a significant international event here in Perth for the 2017 Doctor with abundant support craft and temperate water, albeit blowy, Ken Dinham had a very close call! www.perthnow.com.au/news/wa/wa-ocean-pad...ariner-ng-b88671638z

That's quite a scary story.

Another reason to use general shock cord and good knots over proprietary leashes that have hidden connections. Easy to check, test and cheap to replace (the last being an incentive to replace early and often).

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2 months 1 day ago #40956 by LaPerouseBay
That's a nifty idea Watto. Unbreakable, light and stretchy.

The NSI puts the stretch inside with a bungee, but wraps it with an unbreakable cover.

mrcharly, I've never seen or heard of anyone using a bungee as a leash. A quick google search found this advice on the subject from a long time poster here.

forums.paddling.com/t/surfski-pfd-leash-questions/124177

downwind dilettante

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2 months 1 day ago #40957 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
I think our esteemed administrator uses bungee cord for a paddle leash.

I'll do a break/load test on the shock cord I have and report back. If it is disappointingly low, I can thread it through some tubular webbing.

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2 months 1 day ago #40958 by LaPerouseBay
From the wayback machine:
Waist leash is doing fine after 7 or 8 years.

That yellow thing was for dragging a paddle if I had to swim.
Now that I have a paddle leash, I can use it to free my hands.




downwind dilettante
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2 months 1 day ago #40959 by Davidw
Replied by Davidw on topic Leg leash or paddle leash
Most of us,especially with older skis, use the footstrap as a leash attachment point. I stopped doing that recently after the rear footstrap in my double broke loose when I was pulling on it (not very hard) to adjust the leg length.
The small stainless screws holding the strap to the slide car are short and anchored only into thin aluminium. And stainless and aluminium don't like each other so there's likely some corrosion there to weaken the attachment further.
If your ski has a built-in attachment, rather use that.
I use the built in attachment for my leg leash and the footstrap for my paddle leash, if I'm using one.

I find the coiled leashes quite irritating as they are often end up between my leg (drive) and the boat. I have been using a tie-down or just webbing a la Zack and Jerry. I haven't had to test it in conditions yet but it stays out the way.
The downside is if it gets washed out the boat, you're dragging couple of meters of webbing loop over the side which is a pain to retrieve. Only happened once so far though.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #40969 by LaPerouseBay

The small stainless screws holding the strap to the slide car are short and anchored only into thin aluminium. And stainless and aluminium don't like each other so there's likely some corrosion there to weaken the attachment further.

I agree, galvanic corrosion is worth looking after. I also had those tiny screws fail in a gen 1 boat - at the rail slider/strap attachment.

I was glad to see Epic switch to plastic rail sliders. The other upgrade to the gen 2 slider is the strap attachment. It's now thru bolted to the footplate.

In Epic boats, the tracks are aluminum, fastened to the hull with stainless screws. They anodize the aluminum to help prevent corrosion. If that anodized coating gets scratched where the screw head is, salt water will eventually start the reaction. I add anti seize paste to all the joints and screws in my boats. I've seen a few boats that have heavy corrosion at the rail attachment. Epic sells new tracks if anyone needs them.

A gasket between any aluminum/stainless screw is best. Epic has one at the rear of the rail, but not at the front. That's the one i watch closely.

I find the coiled leashes quite irritating as they are often end up between my leg (drive) and the boat. I have been using a tie-down or just webbing a la Zack and Jerry.

If anyone is curious what that is, it's in the beginning of this video. Main takeaway for me is it is out of the way and unbreakable. Win, win.


downwind dilettante

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