by Mike Buckley - 2005

The subject of the pros and cons of paddle leashes came up on the Commuity Forum here - a quick search on the web revealed prices ranging from £8 through to an unbelievable £20!

A quick rummage in the garage found the following:

  1. Length of strong nylon cord - in this case, salvaged from an old map case.
  2. Plastic hook - found at the road-side one day.
  3. Small bead - salvaged from an old fleece jacket draw cord.
  4. Spring-loaded cord-lock - salvaged from the same jacket.

    If you are less squirrel-like than I am, and need to buy the bits, they can be found in most decent outdoor shops - certainly Needlesports do them, and and Ace Supplies are worth trying.
  5. The bead might be harder to source and I've never found an on-line source for small quantities. But, find a "bead shop" in your locality - 5p should purchase a suitable bead. A search on eBay for "ranger beads" will also yield 13 on a length of paracord, and they are ideal. Or, use a double hole cord-lock. Slider & hook should be less than £3.00.

    A word of caution - I've noticed a number of remarkably similar designs to mine appearing of late (April 2011) on eBay - when I wrote this in 2005 there was nothing similar on the market as the commercially available designs all used a velcro tab to attach to the paddle. One such design is using the self-fit bungee hooks available from a variety of sources. I experimented with these and found that the bungee will release from the fitting under tension! Which sort of negates the purpose! These offerings also lack the bead which retains the slider - without it, the slider will eventually end up getting lost.


10 mins and £nil later I had this:

Strong hook to attach to deck-lines (optional - it could be looped or tied - the other method is to use a plastic ball about the size of a large marble to trap the end under the line). The spring loaded cord-lock creates a loop through which the paddle is slipped, then tightened round the shaft so it doesn't flop around irritatingly.

The small bead just stops the loop coming thro the cord-lock if the loop is tightened without the paddle. Without it, you will lose the slider eventually!

Cord is long enough to allow me to paddle (and to roll, if necessary) but not so long it gets in the way. When not in use, the leash lives in the deck-bag or is just laid across the deck and tucked under the deck-line on the opposite side.

Detail of the cord-lock, loop and bead. Figure-of-Eight used as the stopper knot.


Detail of the hook - cord is attached with a half Fishermans Knot, for anyone pedantic enough to need to know! (I've subsequently found a small stainless-steel hook - with a swivel - it cost about £2 in a chandlers - it's also rather more substantial than the plastic hook shown in the pictures.)


Detail of the loop (slack) on the paddle.


On the other hand, if you really have to have a shiny, nicely packaged and commercially made paddle leash, (all the "usual suspects" will have them) Northwater and others offer a length of bungee, with a hook at one end and velcro to attach it to the paddle for around £10 - or you can spend well over £20 for the same thing but with a stretchy wire coil - oh, and "swivels on both ends eliminate twisting".

In the final analysis, if you think a leash is a good idea, a length of scrap cord tied to the boat and the paddle would do the job just as well - - - -

If you want to use it as a Paddle Park, you either open the loop and slip the paddle(s) into it or just secure the looped end round the deck lines using either a simple hitch like a Round Turn and Half Hitches or a Larks-head and then use the hooked end to wrap round the paddle(s), securing with the hook.

A final word of caution - I'd strongly suggest that a paddle leash is thought of only as a back-up, not the solution to the possibility of your paddle floating away. This discussion is worth a look at. If you haven't learned to hang onto your paddle, and your boat, should you be in the water, you really shouldn't be out in a kayak.

For more DIY's, see the DIY. Repairs, Maintenance & Modifications page of the Almanac.

© Mike Buckley - 2005

Note: Do use my design for your own personal use. If you want to copy it to make money, perhaps you'd be kind enough to do the decent thing and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we can agree on how much of a donation you're going to make to RNLI on your sales profits from stealing someone else's idea.