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Greenland paddle in Wooden Boat.


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Anybody interested in Greenland style paddles should check out this month's issue of Wooden Boat magazine---there is a feature article on how to make one---a two peice take apart Greenland style paddle no less---didnt know such a thing existed. The author relates a story about paddling (in Ma. I think) and passing two young women in high tech boats with gear to match and having one of them tell him it looked like he was paddling with a toothpick. I have seen a number of people using them and they do look kind of skinny but to be frank I've always been fascinated by them---can anybody tell me what the advantages are over a regular type fiberglass/carbon paddle?

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>what the advantages are over a regular type fiberglass/carbon paddle?

If you make your own, it is much less expensive. Also produces fewer VOCs during construction.

It is more buoyant than most "spoons" and makes self-rescue maneuvers easier.

For me, it prevents me from slipping into bad habits from canoeing experience. While its less significant than some might say, it won't have the same performance of a fiberglass paddle, especially high-end models.

You'll be the envy of your friends.

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I'm tempted to make a shameless commercial plug here, but I won't. ;-)

Greenland paddles are quite different from the more common "Euro" paddles. Advantages commonly cited include:

* Low cost. You can make a GP for under twenty bucks in materials.

* Light weight, at least for the price. A typical cedar GP weighs between 24 and 32 ounces, depending on its dimensions and variation in wood density. In use they feel lighter because:

* GPs are buoyant. This makes them feel lighter when paddling. It also makes them useful as outriggers when you need a bit of stability. It makes rolling a bit easier, too.

* GPs are easier on the joints. Considering the average age of NSPN members, this is of no small consequence. Truth be told, you can make a GP that feels like a Euro paddle if you want to, but it seems somewhat pointless.

* GPs are completely symmetric. There is no top, bottom, left or right. It works any way you grab it. The design also provides excellent tactile feedback for orienting the paddle.

* A GPs longer, thicker, narrower blades are less angle sensitive than wider, thinner blades. This makes them less critical when used in sculling or sweeping motions. They also produce lots of lift. Rolling with a GP is so easy that it feels like cheating. Sculling with one is slow and relaxing.

* GPs are quiet. They were developed by seal hunting cultures for whom sealth was critical.

* GPs store easily on-deck. Many, if not most GP users carry a shorter paddle (aka, "storm paddle") on their deck as a spare, but even a full length GP is pretty easy to stow on a typical sea kayak. Even some people who prefer Euro paddles for general use carry a short GP as a spare, because it's so easy to do so. It gives you instant access to your spare paddle when you need it - no assembly required - and it takes up relatively little deck space.

* GPs are COOL! 'Nuff said.

Although there is considerable commonality in technique between GPs and Euro paddles, there are also some important differences. It will take a bit of time to develop the proper technique and a feel for the paddle, so if your initial experience seems a bit awkward, don't let that discourage you. There are a lot of "twiggers" (GP users) in the club, any one of which will probably be more than happy to let you try their paddles (you can't make just one) and assist you with technique. We're always looking to draw more unsuspecting victims into our cult. ;-)

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Actually for most paddlers the performance will be the same or better than they get out of their EPs. I have done some testing and find that there is about half a knot speed difference in comparison to a light conventional EP at the full aenerobic end of the paddling spectrum, e.g. a boat that I can get to 6 with a EP I can only get to 5.5 with a GP. For most of us who stay in the 4 knot range this is immaterial. Had no problem passing a 4* assessment with the GP or in staying with colleagues in a 4 hour run to Matinicus. And in teaching a guide course last weekend in that little 20 knot blow that came through.

In fact I managed to break my paddle getting in the boat on a nasty lee shore after I had been the victim in a Cleopatras Needle / Hypo scenrio, and found that paddling in the big breeze with my EP less pleasant.

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