Anyone making their own kayak paddles?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Bradley Miller, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. I've had some down time this year ......missed most of the last six months, fishing wise. But I spent some time in my shop fiddling around and decided to make some kayak paddles for my SoT. I have a very nice AquaBound carbon paddle.....but being a wood lover and a carpenter, I thought I'd give this a shot. They have turned out pretty nice: anyone else making their own?

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  2. Nice! How does the weight compare to that of your carbon paddle?

  3. Good question: I've made three so far, and the first one was sort of a Newfoundland style, though not strictly so. It weighed a little more than my carbon paddle, but not enough to actually notice.

    THEN, because of my 'more is better' mentality, I started improvising.
    The next two weighed alot more (double?) but paddle very nicely and my aging arms didn't even notice the difference over a two hour outing.

    My question is this: since there is no free lunch, is it possible that the greater mass of the heavier paddles actually give you a bit more momentum on the downstroke? Even though it is more work move out of the water, maybe it reclaims some of that energy while it's in the water. Thoughts? :)
  4. Okay; fine, what I really meant, apparently, was the 'forward stroke'.
    I also notice in the article that you mentioned that the 'user' is paddling with a european style paddle. If I'm not mistaken, Greenland style paddles use a different type of approach to the stroke. Anyway, thanks for the input. I'm forwarding this discussion to a pal of mine who is a professional kayak guide, and asking for his input as well.

  5. I'd be the user. Not sure if that is referred to as a "European" style paddle. It is designed for a more effective, vertical forward stroke.

    I just don't buy into the entire Greenland style of paddling. Yeah, those guys were badasses, but they didn't have CAD capabilities or the ability to mold complex shapes with composite materials. I am sure if they did the elders of the paddling community would have sat around a fire one night to explore ways to get their dinners more efficiently, which is essentially the way that any function of technique is dialed in, refined and more effectively taught to others. I think that it is way cool to study what they did and even play with recreating equipment from a historical perspective. After all, they sewed themselves into their boats and hunted big ocean going critters out of them. How badass is that???? However if you want to cover ground it is not the tool for the job.

    If you look at any competitive realm of paddling you will see that the forward stroke is very vertical. ACA curriculum tends to teach a lazier, more horizontal forward stroke than BCU. However as an ACA instructor trainer educator I always emphasized a vertical stroke to the public,instructor candidates and aspiring instructor trainers - my angles are more in line with BCU and were formed through years of competitive paddling. The most effective way to propel a boat forward is with the blade as close to, and following in line with, the center line of the boat. As soon as your hands drop below shoulder level that paddle blade is out from the center line of the boat (assuming that your paddle is sized correctly, your seat height is within normal ranges, etc.) - you are essentially performing a series of sweeps strokes - which are intended to impart left or right directional control to the boat. Not ideal for going forward

    However the hull dimensions of what you are paddling will also dictate your paddling stroke. Assuming that you are not 7' tall, get much wider than 24" in beam and you are not able to execute a forward stroke, or many other strokes, properly. A way to combat that is to raise your seat. You loose stability, but have more leverage.

    All that being said I think you'll find that, all things being equal - and they rarely are - the lightest paddle is the most efficient. Other factors such as overall length, blade size and subtle nuances of blade shape come strongly into play as well. I think that my sprint paddle is 219cm length weighs around 700 grams. You'd be extremely hard pressed to find a wood paddle close to that, however my touring and whitewater paddles are all wood shaft, carbon blade models made by Mitchell. That combination, for me, serves up a sweet resiliency.
  6. Wow, that is funny. You must not realize who Marty is. Marty wrote the book, so to speak, and probably trained and certified the instructor who taught your guide buddy how to paddle.

    And being a professional kayak may mean nothing as they often aren't required to have much skill as many guides simply take newbies on tame follow-the-leader trips in very controlled conditions. I know of some very reputable outfits that hire guides who had never paddled a sea kayak until they taught them how. Your buddy may be very skilled but unless he is a Level 5 ACA or BCU Instructor Trainer (the ones who teach the instructors how to teach the guides and other students), I wouldn't take his word over Marty's and heck, I wouldn't take it even he is.
  7. The sea-surface temp has been cooling off, so I wore some "lightweight" neoprene gloves for the first time in a couple of months, going surfing last Sunday. It didn't take long to notice that the slight increase in the weight of my hands made it more difficult to paddle as quickly as I can bare-handed. After over two hours of water time and several thousand paddling strokes, the added weight had made a difference. My arms and shoulders were toast!
    So I think that I would want the lightest paddle (if other specs, such as stiffness, are equal) that I could afford.
  8. Marty:
    Thanks...thats very helpful. My paddling hasn't been very 'vertical' so I am anxious to get out and put some of that data to work on my next outing. Suddenly my newest paddling creations seem too large and heavy; fortunately they are made of wood and I can go back and reshape them, though they are not engineered, I do like they way they look and feel.

    Back to the workbench. And that's ok tool.

  9. No prob. And while I have some paddling history it is just that - history. Freestone is very generous with her comments.

    I made the offer to Gig Harbor Fly Shop before about putting a half day clinic together on basic paddling technique. If people are interested give a call to Blake. It won't be rescue oriented, but will be basic stroke oriented and would likely include a little video analysis. While rescue technique and rolling are extremely valuable I prefer to first teach people how to stay upright and in their boats. The goal is not to turn people into uber paddlers, but to give them fundamentals so that paddling is easier and you derive more enjoyment from it.

    It is cool to use gear hat you made!

  10. Well.....I am not exactly sure what is so funny but:
    You're right. I have no idea who Marty is. I'm just asking questions. Not questioning him. (her? See?)

    Anyway, my 'buddy' actually IS a level 5 ACU trainer and BCU Instructor.
    This thread wasn't meant to start an argument over physics or credentials; it was about wood and fabrication and art and beauty. At least in my mind. Anyway, I think that a paddle you like using, regardless of engineering or pedigree, is worth using. Perhaps not if you are doing competitive paddling, but who does that in a SoT?
  11. Cool link dragonsayer.
    Yeah I've got three paddles built so I will post some photo soon.
  12. I build SoF Baidarka's and aluit/Greenland paddles. I'll take my paddles over anything you can buy in a store. you need to read about these people, mostly the Greenland people. they will out paddle anyone. next time they are around where you are at, go see em.
    I would use one of my paddles on a SoT kayak anytime.
    just my .02 worth.

  13. Jim is an exquisite paddler and a pioneer of the sport. However if you paddled with him you know that his competitive background is limited. His forte is squirt boating and creeking. He was instrumental in pioneering and proving just what is possible in those boat, which is as far from touring as you could possibly get.

    I agree with the major focus of what he says - and that essentially is that you can do a forward stroke aggressively, or more chill. You can do any stroke on an efficiency scale of 1 - 10.

    I don't agree with his analogy that racers are always hammering in third gear. It is a misrepresentation. In any race there are times when you have to hammer and times when you coast. When you coast your technique doesn't change. As far as equipment, look at what paddlers are using for 24 hour records. Looks at what paddlers used for the Finlandia - carbon fiber wings.

    Yes racers want to be as efficient as possible over a given distance - and that means getting the most forward glide out of each stroke while exerting as little effort as possible. Once you start to develop your technique and train with a heart-rate monitor and a watt meter on an erg, or a speedo in a boat, you get a feel for what this is like. When you do this you quickly discover that the entire push / pull language / discussion is BS.

    Finally, I don't agree that the technique that is taught to the general public is the technique that is handed down from the competitive arena. That was true up until about the mid 80's. When rec paddlers had something else to paddle beside 4 meter boats, play boat technique developed on its own as a result play boaters, many of which are also ACA instructors, ITs or ITEs. This developed as they examined the physics of what is going on, and how the populations that they taught at places like NOC and Otterbar and various other schools adapted to different padding and teaching techniques. Kent Ford, Chris Spelius, Gordon Black, Mark Moore, Tom McEwan, Payson Kennedy and others where all movers of this. That effort formed the curriculum that we know today.
  14. I don't think Bradley cares about racing, he just wants a good paddle. an Aluit/Greenland paddle is very good to use and you can cover a lot of miles with them. I have been using them for 14 yrs and I like em better then anything I can get out of a store. I paddle a 20' double a lot by my self and I can paddle a long ways. so lets get back on track. Bradley is not a racer. he paddles a SoT kayak.
  15. Outlaw - if you read my post you will see that I was commenting on Jim's position in the link. I understand that Bradley is not interested in racing, and at 53 years of age my two goals in skiing, paddling, climbing, cycling, etc is to do things as efficiently as possible and to not get hurt. And if your technique is dialed paddling is effortless.
  16. yep, I am 68 and my paddling has been dialed in for yrs. in 1990 to 1993 I put in a little over 50,000 mi. riding my road bike(cycling). back in the 80's I also climbed till I fell 300', I was tied in too my partner but got cut up a lot and banged around.
    Silvertone likes this.
  17. Gentlemen:
    I've been happy to learn a little from each post on this thread......I was really more interested in the woodworking side of things than the paddling theory side, but hey; thats ok too.

    I am going to continue to experiment with paddles and woods and construction techniques and paddling methods because it interests me and because it's a natural flow of interests that work well. At least for me. I am not competitive, nor do I race; however in most endeavors there are lots of things to learn from those that do.

    My sea kayaking buddy says that the best advice is to step away from the keyboard and pick up a paddle. :)

    I've been sidelined from both fishing and paddling since April because of health concerns, but I am looking forward to getting back on the water as time, season, and recovery allow. I keep my Aquabound paddle onboard all the time; but I do love picking up a cedar and walnut home made paddle that might be inefficient, but is certainly pretty; and actually move through the water with it. Life is good!
  18. I would continue to do your own thing as these experts can't seem to agree on whats proper in a paddle, I don't know any thing about a greenland style paddle or any other type. I myself prefer a ping pong paddle, but not nessarily for kayak paddleing!!!!

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