Reflections from the Cockpit
Creative Solutions
June 2004

Many of you have seen the TV show MacGyver. For those who have not, picture an ordinary guy (the hero) who uses his Swiss Army Knife, duct tape and a few ordinary items (happen to be lying around) to create some type of device which always saves the day.

I am a big fan of creative problem solving. I am always using items around me to make all kinds of useful items needed at the moment. A friend of mine named Lee Moyer (kayak designer and paddler) once shared a quote with me that a friend told him. "Never take anything along on the paddle that cannot perform at least three different functions." Lee told me this many years ago. Ever since then I cannot look at a piece of kayaking equipment the same way. My brain tries to think of at least three uses for it. I am not saying, "leave it home if you cannot find three useful functions." I am suggesting you look at your equipment with new eyes. You may find some of your equipment is redundant and another piece can do the same function.

One of the things I love about hanging around other paddlers (especially touring and camping with them) is seeing how other kayakers creatively use their equipment. I have learned so many little tricks just by watching. In keeping with the USK goal of being "your sea kayaking education resource" I decided to create a special web page on the USK site called "Yak-Gyvers" (Kayaking-MacGyverisms). I am hoping all of you out there will send in your own creative uses for your kayaking equipment.

One thing to keep in mind is not to have your equipment damaged when using it in its alternate function. As an example, I have seen paddles used as supports for tarps to create a shelter. If your paddle is a lightweight paddle will it take the stresses on a rainy/windy day by being a tent support?

There are times you will need to be creative in an emergency situation. Perhaps someone else’s "Yak-Gyver" will be your solution. Let us look at a problem and consider some possible solutions. Perhaps you had to open your hatch while on the water (which is a kayaking no no.) In the process you lose your hatch cover. What can you use as a substitute for your hatch cover? Here are some of my possible substitutes based upon what I normally carry with me during my paddles.

Duct tape hatch cover (I actually did this when given a kayak without covers.)
Plastic bag and duct tape
Inflatable paddle float to block the opening

I am guessing there are other solutions depending on what you carry with you.

If you are like me you will never look at equipment the same way again. My hope is the page of "Yak-Gyvers" will be of use to some of you in the future. Our collective experience is a wonderful resource to share. Please send your Yak-Gyvers to us at Thank you in advance for sharing.


Wayne Horodowich


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