Adaptive Kayaking & Scuba Diving. Disabled, Handicapped. Adaptive Sports, Adapted

  Disabled Adventurers                              
      227 Tennyson St., Thousand Oaks, CA 91360             (805) 427-1128   

Bringing the sport of kayaking to the disabled through training and development of adaptive equipment!



Those unfamiliar with the capabilities of many adventurous, but seriously disabled outdoorsmen (and women), may be surprised to hear that this fixture is designed to assist quadriplegics who have limited use of their arms and possibly little, if any, ability to grip with their hands. After several test runs, it is clear that this fixture will also prove especially useful for a paddler that has good use of only one arm and hand!

Because of the way the fixture transfers the push of the paddle so solidly to the kayak, it seems to make for a very fast paddle even for an able-bodied kayaker! On Sunday, November 14, 1999, Steve, a quadriplegic paddler who has very limited hand use and is only able to push with his arms, took my XT with the paddling fixture out for a test run. I am pleased to say he gave the design concept a very high review and helped me to work out some design changes that have made this fixture very useful for paddlers with many types of limitations. I'll continue to publish changes and further test results as they happen!

Here are my earlier notes regarding my Paddling Fixture on a Scrambler XT...
Please note that I now concentrate maily on adapting to the Malibu Two for all its major benefits.

The Scrambler XT is a good all-around choice for using this paddling fixture on when the paddler weighs less than 170 pounds. I am, however, now concentrating on the Malibu Two because of is superb stability and capacity. My latest designs, shown below, plug right into the Malibu Two without any modifications to the stock kayak.

The XT exhibits superb tracking, even in a cross-wind, and has good stability, a feature which is invaluable for a paddler with no ability to adjust his upper body weight the way an able-bodied paddler does naturally in response to the sensation of tipping. There is plenty of cockpit room for adding foam support pads around the paddler and the seat pan sits deep enough to keep the CG low, further enhacing the stability of the kayak. Finally, the forward oval hatch is perfectly positioned for an adequate sized boom, and it is quite easy to fabricate and secure a hard-topped cover on which to mount the boom wedge.

C A U T I O N !

Please remember that there is a slight danger of getting caught up in the boom and padddle in case of a roll-over, particularly for the highly disabled paddler. In the few experimental roll-overs I personally have tried I have not experienced a trapping situation. I still highly advise that the disabled paddler be accompanied by and monitored closely during trials by an able-bodied paddler who is a confident swimmer, and possibly even trained as a rescue diver or lifeguard. I also suggest that you make use of low profile hardware at the 'paddle-lock' that is unlikely to snag clothing.

Other safety concerns are present when gearing up and fitting the paddler to the kayak. EVERY individual has different abilities and requirements for participating fully and safely. It is very important to have the expertise of one who is familiar with the various techniques that are used for fitting the man to the machine (as it were), perhaps one of the disabled paddlers themselves! Simple things, like a swivel-snap left under a seat cushion, can cause serious abrasion-type injuries that may take months to heal in areas of reduced circulation. The paddler may often require additional foam padding (often fitted on-site) or a particular placement of an additional life-vest in order to have the support he or she needs to paddle the kayak with the least effort and greatest stability. All pressure points, such as eyelets, which cannot be removed from the kayak should be well padded before leaving the dock or beach.

Steve suggested that the boom of the paddling fixture should be removed while placing the paddler aboard the kayak as it may be somewhat intimidating to have the hard fixture in the face of the paddler as he is being set aboard. My newest design makes it a snap to swing the boom up and out of the way during boarding. The paddler is placed and fitted to the kayak on a low dock or near the water on a calm beach - no surf entries! If on a dock, a piece of carpet can be set under the kayak and over the edge of the dock to ease sliding the kayak off the dock.

The unfeathered paddle is secured to the paddle-lock with duct tape or good packing tape. The blades must be oriented exactly perpendicular to the water when it is in the middle of the stroke area. Align the center of the paddle with the center of the boom, not the paddle block! When the paddling fixture is in place and the paddler is ready to give it a go, the kayak is drug off the beach or turned (bow or stern first, depending on the preference of the paddler) toward the water on the dock and eased into the water. Two assistants should be used to keep the kayak upright during the difficult transition from dock to water. The disabled paddler should stay near-by until the assisting paddler is ready to go. And, do remember, you never want to fall off a boat right next to a dock, not because of the danger of hitting the dock, but of coming up under it! OK, so you probably never actually WANT to fall of a boat anyway (epsecially in the cold Pacific).