bespoke East and West Greenland paddles UK paddle canoe custom
paddle number 1
photos, from the top:
close up of the loom to
the blade across the shoulder
grrrr blade repair after gouging a chunk off between rocks in Roskilde Fjord, Denmark
just below Alveston weir on the
River Avon, near Stratford-upon-Avon
me, Tim of Warwick, England
2.2m (86.5" / 7' 2.5")
Danish oil, subsequently floor oil
Perception Sealion Fastnet,
The meranti wood was sourced from a local yard, all they had except for oak and very knotty pine! I chose it for it's seeming lightness and relatively tight grain. It was very easy to shape. The grain is visually very busy. Initially I finished it with 5 coats of Danish oil. I tested it on the River Avon in Stratford-upon-Avon, my first time with a Greenland paddle and the one hour on the water with it made me a firm convert. I took my Werner Shuna 215cm as a comparison. And there is no comparison! I re-sanded the saddle lightly and refinished it with floor oil. Why? It seems to coat more thickly than Danish oil, dries harder, and if our parquet floor at home is anything to go by, takes abuse very well. Time will tell whether it works on a paddle. I will report back (update below).
The sliding stroke is very useful when altering your course, a slight veer is easily corrected. Due to the shape of the blade and loom shoulder it becomes second nature to relocate your hands back to a normal grip after moving your hand along the paddle blade. The oval cross-section of the loom helps keep the paddle orientated just forward of perpendicular to the water. No more looking down and checking to see where your hands are side-to-side on the shaft, what angle are your blades at?
The most difficult part of the paddling technique is remembering to pivot and swing from your middle instead of using just your shoulders and upper chest. Ultimately I suspect (and hope) that paddling Greenland-style will help me reduce my fat belly!
For weight comparison my Euro paddles are:
Werner Tybee FG 220cm 1080g (36oz), Werner Shuna 215cm 860g (30oz)
I was conservative and cautious when shaping this paddle, I think I could probably have got the weight down to less that 1kg. Next time . . .
Loom is oval, not a rounded square, seems more ergonomic, more natural to the hand. After 2 hours paddling with wet hands I had no sore spots, red area, blisters etc, unlike paddling with a slightly oval shafted euro paddle. I always had sore palms at the base of my thumbs. Not any more!
You have drip-stops on a euro paddle, but not on a Greenland paddle, you can't if you use the sliding technique.
UPDATE (August 2014):
Using floor oil on top of the Danish work very well. The Danish oil soaks into the wood, the floor oil adds some sheen to the final finish, and in my opinion the floor oil offers a better grip when wet than just Danish oil alone. This is my preferred finish option from now on.
how did I repair the blade?
I let the paddle dry completely, lightly sanded around the area with 220 grit sand paper, blew the dust off, filled the gap with car body repair filler, then sanded that to the correct shape and re-oiled the repaired area to seal it.
It's not very petty, but it is strong and in a way this scar adds to the character and history of my paddle.