Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

I need some experienced opinions please. I am in the process of building a Wood Duck 12 and thought it would complement the boat nicely if I made my own custom paddle since I am a long term woodworkier. Now my dilemma. I was going to make a European style paddle out of cedar and cherry. However, I keep reading of the growing interest in the Greenland Paddle and downloaded all the pertinent info on sizing and making a Greenland Paddle. My question revolves around perception and using only a European style paddle. I am 5'-10" and weigh 215 to 220 depending on how close I stick to my diet and exercise. I am fairly strong in upper body and like to feel like I am paddling against something when I want to "move-out". Does the Greenland paddle "slip" in the water as much as I am thinking it might? Would it be a good paddle to leave from the shoreline and head out into the surf? I don't tour and probably never will. My kayak use is getting from shore to a good fishing spot in one of our bays or kayaking a bait out in the surf to catch sharks from shore. Is a Greenland paddle going to perform well for me in those conditions? All input is greatly appreciated, because I have not even held a Greenland paddle in my hands.

16 replies:

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RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

A big YES!!!  I first tried a greenland this summer and love it.  I was amazed at the speeds I was able to obtain.  It is a very different feel, but once you get used to it, I think you will love it.  Couple weeks ago some friends and I where out having fun in the surf (1+ metre waves) and Alan was using his greenland with no difficulties.  I plan to make one as soon as I finish my wife's boat (a WD12) and my touring boat (C18).

I would suggest that you get your hands on one first and give it a try.  Like I said, it has a very different feel.

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

David, thanks for your reply. That is exactly the kind of input I am seeking. Unfortunately, there are no greenland paddles around Corpus Christi, so I will just have to make one and try it out. No big loss, as I found a very nice cedar 2x6x10 at Lowes for $6 and change, so I won't be out much if I don't like it.

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

lafisher,  I'd say for most boats a resounding yes.  I'd probably stick with a euro paddle for something as wide as the wood duck, though.  With a big open cockpit like that, to my eye, the greenland paddle would be "off".  That's just my opinion.

That said, if you can make a greenland paddle, you can make a euro paddle with only slightly more effort.  You have the same basic process for making the shaft portion, but you just need to add a little material at the edges of the ends for the blades.  A bit of Titebond III glue works very well for gluing up the blanks.  (I use Titebond II onall my paddles because I'm too lazy to buy the "waterproof" stuff.  So far all my paddles work but the glue does get a little soft after a few hours in the water.  Not soft enough to delaminate, but soft.)

I actually used epoxy on my euro paddles, just like what comes with the kits, but the damn paddles were so heavy (all hardwoods laminated in strips) I opted never to use them.  They are still on the wall in my garage after 7 years.

Now, to answer your real question... Greenland paddles are quite versatile and will do everything a euro paddle will do, with less weight.  They take a little getting used to, because they move through the water more "smoothly" (to my hand) than a euro paddle does.  They occasionally have a tendency to "twist" under the surface but after a few minutes you tend to find how to stop that.  They're fantastic in surf conditions, and I can easily move as fast with a greenland paddle as I can with a euro paddle.


RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

As FrankP says, a lot depends on the boat. I have three kayaks and use three very different paddles with them. The Greenland paddle seems to work best at a low angle steady pace. It's not as good for digging in, but terrific for steering. It also uses different muscle groups; the first time I used mine I ached all over that night. Mine was made by Eric Schade and is so beautiful it hangs in my dining room when not in use. -Wes

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

This question is asked out of total ignorance concerning the Greenland paddle. If the issue is the width of the WD 12, why couldn't someone like me just make a longer Greenland paddle - say 240cm? If one kept the proportions the same but lengthened the paddle would it work for my application? Like I said above, I have never even held such a paddle, so I don't understand the paddling geometry.

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

I wish I could get good clear cedar for 6$ at Lowes or HD around here:) Not going to happen. I like the GP a lot. Though perhaps one slight difficulty with a shorter boat might be how convenient it is to stow the paddle. A paddle leash would be counterproductive because it would impede your ability to do sliding or extended strokes. Sliding stroke might be especially useful on a wide boat like the WD. Typically a GP is hooked under a bow or stern loop for stowing but you need a 16 foot or longer boat for that to work very well.

The obvious solution to that problem is to build a greenland style kayak to go with your paddle. Shearwater, Night Heron, Petrel or Arctic Hawk would be good candidates. "17 days left!" for CLC kit sale I read this morning:) Or look up the books by Robert Morris, Chris Cunningham, Mark Starr, ... and build a skin-on-frame, Greenland kayak.


Ogata, eric

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

I made a GP using the book by Brian Nystrom as a guide. It came out really nice, and quite a bit lighter than the all-wood euro paddle I bought some time ago from CLC. Furthermore, I really liked how it felt paddleing my Ches 17. The only downside to me was the water flow off the blades into the cockpit. It's a lot of water! I paddle in central Florida and don't even own a skirt. Maybe my technique was to blame, but I couldn't correct the matter. I ended up sawing the paddle in half and installing a ferrule so that I could slip some drip rings on the loom. The drip rings work as intended but they are so close together (24" loom) that the drips still flow into the cockpit. Bottom line ... I don't use the GP, even though I like how it works.


RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

Laszlo, you appear to have many hours in the wood duck. Have you tried a greenland paddle? Maybe it is as David said above, that the WD 12 is just too wide for a greenland. I guess I will just focus on making my own euro style and forget the greenland for this kayak.

thanks to all that offered insight.

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

In response to the suggestion about making the pladdle longer.  When sizing a GP, one of hte considerations is the width of the blade in relation to your open hand.  The reason for this is that it is a common practice to slide the paddle through your hands on each stoke, holding one end right at the tip extending the length of the half that is in the water.  you can actually do this on each stroke (hence part of the reason you do not see drip rings).  one nice advantage with this technique is it gets your hands moving so they do not cramp up and you do not need as long (or heavy) a paddle.

 As for digging in, the surface area of a GP is actually the same as a European (so I'm told), just has a higher aspect ratio so it is easier to make it cavitate.  This means that you have to draw through the water with a little less speed (only an issue when starting from a stand still).  I found that the acceleration was not much different once I slowed down enough to prevent cavitation.  When I tried it on my level 1 course, I "raced" everyone as we headed in for lunch (some motivated paddlers ;) and was able to easily lead the pack.

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

Sorry, I've never used Greenland paddles. My favorite paddle for my WD12 is the Kalliste foam core carbon fiber model with the bent shafts. It feels almost weightless compared to my wooden paddles and the bent shafts are very easy on the wrists (especially good for those of us who've spent over 3 decades tied to a keyboard). My record is nearly 8 hours of continuous paddling in one day with that paddle.

As far as the WD width goes, it's got some serious tumblehome, so it would probably work fine with a GP. I don't understand the problem with stowage. Why not just tuck it under the bungees? Works for my EPs, which are longer than GPs. In fact, GPs are short enough that they could probably just slide into the cockpit and be stowed completely out of the way.




GP technique shown in the video

In the above youtube video of GP paddling technique, the torso rotation about the vertical appears to be quite low, use of arms (elbow and shoulder rotation) correspondingly high, and the fore and aft motion of the body (hip rotation like that in doing situps) is high.  I saw an instructional video recently which strongly promotes the opposite: sit straight up, and use high amount of torso rotation, low amount of arm.

Is my observation of the technique in the video correct?  If so, is the difference because of GP vs. euro?

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

Another builder just started a thread about the MC13 that he just completed and posted this picture (hope he doesn't mind me borrowing it for this thread):

The WD 12 is an inch wider than the MC13, but it also has a much steeper tumblehome. I'm guessing that lafisher is also somewhat of a larger paddler than the kids in the picture. This ought to give folks an idea of approximately how the WD12 and GP paddle would work together.



RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

Camper asks, "Is my observation of the technique in the video correct?  If so, is the difference because of GP vs. euro?"

In a word, yes. Which makes Greenland paddles good for people like me who are prone to shoulder problems and/or have difficulty with torso rotation.

I was interested by David Donaldson's comment, "the surface area of a GP is actually the same as a European (so I'm told)" so I measured my Greenland and my Werner euro-style paddles.  My measurements were a little rough (I'm lazy), but each Werner blade was about 90 sq. inches, while my Greenland blades were about 87 sq. inches, so it appears that indeed the surface areas are comparable.

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

Hey lafisher, I just built a greenland paddle that you can try and I am in corpus christi.  It may be a little long, but should give you an idea of what you might expect.  Send me an email at jpbratt at hotmail dotcom.

RE: Greenland Paddles worth the effort?

Hey!  Those are my kids!! Kidding. 

Sorry, I haven't been back here in awhile.

I carved the Greenland paddle from a 2x6 that I am quite sure was white spruce.  I picked it out of the pile at the orange box store.  Cost about $7.  I made it for my wife who is quite petite.  (5 ft).  We are not very experienced kayakers, but the paddle worked fine.  The biggest complaint was the drips in the cockpit.  Some sorta drip rings would help

I am 6 ft., an experienced canoeist, and I tried it.  I felt like I wanted a longer blade.  I did like to slide my hand up the blade to paddle.  That is a real advantage to me.

I really enjoyed the paddle making process.  I bet it took me about 6 hours over a few days if that.  I used dregs of varnish and paint in old cans, so for about $7 I made a nice paddle.

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