Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

Being a less than perfect paddler, I sometimes whack the hull of my LT-17 with my paddle, right at the curve of the deck along the sheer, there by the cockpit.  I'm thinking I want to protect the hull from my nefarious assaults, and was wondering if anybody else with the same problem has come up with a solution that works for them (other than learning to paddle properly)? 

I was thinking that a longitudinal strip of brass perhaps 12x2" held down with brass brads or small pan-head screws and curved over the edge of the deck might work ; I'd have to polish it but hey, what's more nautical than having the captain (me) order the crew (me) to polish the brass? 

Does anybody have a better idea?

13 replies:

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RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

The brass approach would look nice, but I found an easy and inexpensive way to resolve this problem.   Bought some thick-ish embossed self-adhesive plastic material called 'non-slip' decking or tread material, about 12" long x 3/4" wide, with rounded ends.   I simply stuck this along the vulnerable edge (two or more could be used end-to-end on each side if wanted) and it worked a treat.   Being firm but not totally rigid it absorbed the afflictions of the paddle shaft and looked quite professional.   Colours here are black or white.   It will easily take the curve over the deck to the hull side if you use a length of packing tape to just hold it down temporarily while the glue grabs, say overnight.


RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

Thanks -- that sounds like something worth exploring.  I especially like the idea of using a somewhat resiliant material like that.

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

Although you dont want to hear this... Proper paddle length and stroke would save both your yak and your body.

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

I use a piece of foam pipe insulation on my paddle, works fine..

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

In regard to proper paddle length and stroke.  I do my best to practice the forward stroke, but fatigue breaks in concentration leads me to wacking my deck also.  I've often wondered if a longer paddle would help.  Does a longer paddle get the blade beyond the deck to help prevent this?

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

Of course you're right, KayakKev, but ....

The paddle is long enough -- by the book, it's a bit too long, but I like a longer paddle. I'm fairly new to using a Greenland paddle (figured if I built my boat, I ought to build my paddle ... but more important, my aging shoulders prefer the lower position), and I'm still working on my stroke.  So that's part of the problem; the stroke is more horizontal, exacerbated by a tendency to drop it as I tire.  Indeed, that's when the problem tends to arise -- I do a much better job outward bound than returning! 

Trekky's idea of the foam insulation would work on a European paddle, but not so well on a Greenlan, as one moves the hands laterally during the stroke on some of the types of Greenland strokes.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions!

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

The obvious solution is to build a Shearwater.

The sheer panels are "tumbled home" to reduce windage and improve paddle clearance. 

My daughters and I have just finished three.  You would have to try hard to hit the deck.

Jon T

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

Have you considered some 1mm neoprene applied to the edges of the paddle, rather than the boat?  Softens the grip for your hands a little as well as the blow to the deck.  You could leave it on there until your stroke gets more consistent.


RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

Hey Kev,

I'm wondering about your advice for forward stroke. I'm guessing you are advocating a more traditional low angle stroke, not crossing the centerline with the pushing hand etc. But at least both Greg Barton and Oscar Chalupsky advocate a higher angle forward stroke where the catch is placed as close to the hull as possible (without hitting the d&mn boat! :) My Shearwater 16 and Chesapeake 17 LT  (both 23 inch beam) are a little too fat at the beam for me to challenge either of those two:) But I have adapted my forward stroke to be closer to the sort of racing stroke they advocate and I think it has increased my speed and have had no problems with injury or other adverse reactions. When you are trying to place the catch as close to the boat as possible, you will inevitably strike the d&mn boat now and again. Even if it is only one out of every 100 strokes, they add up over time.

Here is my genius solution to that problem. Completely by accident, I managed to get soft padeyes and bungy forward of the cockpit placed in the exact location where a misplaced catch strikes the padeye, or the V of bungy running into the padeye rather than the deck 90% of the time. I couldn't have planned it better if I had tried.

 I generally dislike doing things to my deck that will make refinishing more difficult, e.g. applying tape, or wax or other materials (hence the soft padeyes pulled through slots cut into the deck)  so this has worked out rather well. And purely by accident.



RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

I started this thread to inquire about methods of protecting the hull from the occasional paddle strike, not to discuss my paddling skills or the appropriate paddling techniques to use with a European-style paddle.  I suppose I should have mentioned at the start that I'm using a Greenland paddle, with a comparatively low stroke. 

With some Greenland strokes, the paddler's hands move along the shaft so any sort of padding on the paddle shaft becomes impractical.  So thanks to FrankP and Trekky's ideas, but I think the're not so practical on a Greenland paddle, unless I'm missing something here.

In any case, I'll never be an Oscar Chalupsky, but then, I'm not even trying to paddle with the same sort of paddle or stroke. I'm also happy with my LT-17, and have no desire to scrap it and build a Shearwater just to protect the hull from a few dings.  I like Wordsmith's idea of a resilient strip, but appreciate Ogata's point about refinishing the hull.

Does anybody else have an idea, or better yet, experience that does't necessitate changing boats or paddles?

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

The last time I bought snow skis there was a clear sticky backed tape that was fairly thick that you would put on the top of the skis so that when somebody stepped on your skis while in the lift line they would be protected. Skis have sharpened metal edges and after years of lift lines my skis were never damaged. This material came in a long roll that was just a little wider than a ski. After application it was completly transparent. If they still make this a roll would last you a lifetime (or longer). So you might want to check with a ski shop to see if it is still available.

Another source might be chainstay protection.The 12X2 area described seems just about right for this. Chainstay protectors are clear plastic that wrap around the chainstay of a bike to protect the paint when the bike is shifted onto the smaller cogs. When the bike goes over a bump the chain can slap down on the chainstay and chip the paint. These are not incredibly large but they are sticky backed, clear and very durable. They are pre shaped as well so you don't have to do any crazy cutting to get nice rounded ends. Check a bike shop. Most good shops have them 'cause nobodty wants the paint on their $6000.00 bike chipped.

Hope this helps

RE: Protecting the hull from paddle abuse

Ricks --

Those two products sound great, maybe perfect. There's a good bike store and a ski shop near me, and I'll go look.  Thanks.

  -- Jim

P.S.  And I promise I'll be working on my stroke, too!     ;-)


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