What kind of paddle for Sunfish ?

Thread starter #1
Thanks for everyone's input. This a fantastic forum. I am still a newbie but learning a bunch.

I have been using a normal paddle when sailing. It does get in the way.
I have been looking at the telescopic paddles 22 inches to 44 inches on Amazon.
I figure I will be able to store it in the storage compartment on my Sunfish .
Any suggestions on telescopic paddles. I would like to get good one that will not break.

Thanks so much Will from Truth or Consequences, NM Elephant Butte Reservoir on the Rio Grande


Well-Known Member
One big consideration isn't so much breakage—but loss through floating-away after a capsize. :(

My newest paddle cost $19.95. I know this, because the price-sticker was stuck to it, when I found it floating in the middle of a big lake! ;) An orange paddle usually would help in locating an errant paddle.

Having two "hooks" at the handle-end assists to catch a dock, or maybe fish a second paddle out of the lake. :p

Since I stow the paddle between the mast and the halyard, its length only has to stretch from the halyard to the cockpit.
Alright, Elephant Butte!!! Had a good time there on the lake while taking a 34-hour restart back in my "trucking daze"---hid my wagon in town and camped right on shore in the tractor for a lousy $8, LOL. Hooked up with several hands and some kids aboard a 24' pontoon boat, and we spent 6 or 7 hours on the water, bombing around & partying with the CD player cranked, etc., etc. When I first approached those hands on shore, they were prepping for their voyage, so I explained my situation and told 'em if they took me along, I'd toss $20 toward fuel and bring along a 30-pack of Bud on ice (tinnies). They already had beer, but we hit it off and had a blast... took that pontoon boat all over the lake, and I especially enjoyed seeing the goats on Elephant Butte itself, dunno if they're still there, LOL. I saw pictures a few years later and it looked as if the water level had dropped drastically... hope the reservoir has refilled somewhat, though at least you have a shallow draft boat, so you can still get out there and have fun. :cool:

As far as paddles go, that little telescopic number with the orange paddle blade is decent, can't remember the brand, I bought mine at West Marine or The Boat Shop in San Diego and it worked great, it wasn't big enough to seriously get in the way but it telescoped out far enough to give you the leverage you need. Aboard the Laser, if I ever needed to paddle any great distance, I'd sit on the bow and hang a leg off either side... after unshipping the rudder. Only once did I fully derig and secure rig and all gear on deck or in the cockpit before taking my place on the bow... you can paddle from the cockpit, or somewhere amidships, but ya gotta reach farther to either side, and that repetitive motion gets tiresome after awhile, LOL. Can't remember what I paid for my paddle, somewhere around $20, might have been a few dollars less or more. Thanks for mentioning Elephant Butte, that place was awesome when I visited, and I always liked the name Truth or Consequences, LOL. :rolleyes:

P.S. Think I have a pic of my truck on the lakeshore in this old thread, might be on the first or second page, again I can't remember which, I suffer from CRS in my dotage, LOL. Here's the link:

Random outdoor adventure shots... - Outdoor Adventure USA, LLC

I quickly checked to be sure and the Elephant Butte Lake shot is on the second page of that thread, there are two sets of photos per page and the shot is in the final set. All the shots are pretty cool, you can skip right past whatever text or replies exist and scroll directly to each set of photos. I don't really use that site anymore, think I got banned years ago, LOL. Dunno why I didn't get any shots of the pontoon boat on shore and under way... the hands had it beached right near that marina, which was the marina furthest south on the western shore of the lake. I probably forgot the camera and left it aboard the truck in my excitement to take a boat ride... sheeeee-it, $20 for fuel and the cost of a 30-pack of Bud plus a bag or two of ice, CHEAPEST BOAT RENTAL I EVER HAD IN MY LIFE, LOL. ;)

Edit: Oh, yeah, when you buy your paddle, and regardless of brand, check the rivets if it has them, you want good strong quality rivets, not some cheap cr@p that won't hold up... if the handle or blade looks or feels cheesy, move on to another brand, LOL. Just a word of advice, as all paddles are NOT created equal. :confused:
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Active Member
For both my Laser and Sunfish I have a canoe paddle on my bow that I hold down with 2 bungees that stay on the painter eye and the mast. But because of the storage area aft of the cockpit in the Sunfish, I have a telescoping one too.

However, if you get a metal/plastic one that telescopes make sure to do a buoyancy test on it. I used to have one that failed that test. It would have sunk to the bottom had I not quickly grabbed it! :eek:

- Andy
Here is a completely different take on paddles for a Sunfish. The problem with a conventional paddle is that you have to use both hands to paddle the boat. There are two paddles I have seen that are one handed designs that allow you to steer with one hand and paddle with the other.
They are also smaller and fit nicely in the aft cockpit storage compartment. The Dinghy Shop in Ammityville, NY (Long Island) used to sell both.

Alan Glos
Cazenovia, NY
The Praddle seems like a good idea but if you have a ways to go it could get tedious. I was thinking the 20" that extends to a four footer might be best as it could be put out of the way in the cockpit. Still, they make others that adjust from 4' to about 6' which would be better for going a longer distance if needed. Most of these items are pretty inexpensive so it might be worth it to have a couple of available options.
Thread starter #11
Thanks everyone for your educated input to paddes.
Sounds like there are many options.

Thanks for the your memories Coastal Redneck.
Yes we have had a drought for some time here in New Mexico (until this winter & spring).
Elephant Butte Lake got down to 4 percent full last September but has bounced back to 22 percent and rising.
Even at 4 percent, it is a giant lake for a Sailfish.
The goats are gone for some time from the Elephant Butte Island by the dam.
Will: Have you tried Cochiti Lake, between Santa Fe and Albuquerque? I have a friend that lives in Cochiti Pueblo and Cochiti Lake looks pretty nice. I’m planning on bring my Sunfish over from Phoenix sometime this summer and giving it a try. If you have any experience sailing on Cochiti, let me know ...
I use a little plastic paddle that looks like a kids toy. It works fine. Try any store that sells cheap inflatable boats. You can also use a bailer made from a plastic jug in a pinch.
I'm a newbie myself and I use one of my kayak paddles, while it's bigger than what most want to deal with it is an easy way to both power and steer the boat when not using the sail like when docking with a lot of wind, or to propel yourself when there is no wind at all. For now, I've just left it on the deck and had one of my sons hold onto it while sailing, but if I were alone I would tie it or bungee cord it while keeping it but handy.


Well-Known Member
While I agree with the concept, isn't a kayak paddle too short to use? :(

I tried adding a piece of PVC pipe to extend it, yet still grab the existing / extended shafts. :oops:

Otherwise, I like to annoy those watching, as I'd much rather enjoy sailing slowly than paddle "fast". :)

While I agree with the concept, isn't a kayak paddle too short to use? :(

I tried adding a piece of PVC pipe to extend it, yet still grab the existing / extended shafts. :oops:

Otherwise, I like to annoy those watching, as I'd much rather enjoy sailing slowly than paddle "fast". :)

No, mine kayak paddle has worked well, certainly long enough to do the job.


Well-Known Member
Before it floated away forever, I once modified a short wooden paddle that I jammed between the top of the daggerboard and the boom, then would sheet-in snugly. While "short" on adjustment, it was handy for long reaches in steady winds. :cool:

IOW, my wooden paddle had an alternate life as a "whisker-pole". :)
Spinnaker pole - Wikipedia