You may question why would anyone want to try paddling a kayak with a Greenland paddle? That’s what I thought too when I first saw people paddling a kayak using a skinny piece of wood, but to answer your question:
The short answer is the shape of a Greenland paddle requires less force to push or pull the paddle through the water. This leads to greater stroke efficiency and allows the paddler to travel further while expending less energy.
The long answer is all of the following:
- The shape of the Greenland paddle blade offers greater control in the water and can be used with a variety of paddle strokes.
- The Greenland paddle stroke is also longer than the Euro paddle stroke and it stays in the water longer which gives the paddler better control in dynamic water.
- The shape of the Greenland paddle allows for an even distribution and reduction of forces on the paddle allowing for a lower cadence that is easier on the paddler’s joints and muscles.
- The Greenland paddle capitalizes on your core strength without straining your arms and shoulder muscles.
The Greenland paddle is so much easier on your shoulders that you won’t even realize that you have just paddled 10 nautical mile in three hours. I am a senior now and I can still keep up with a group of much younger paddlers using Euro paddles.
The Inuit of Greenland developed the kayak as a means to hunt their prey. They had to paddle long distances and approach their prey as silently as possible. Some estimate that the Inuit of Greenland were using this design of paddle long before the time of the Vikings.
The Euro paddle as we know it today has only been around for maybe 100 years. So the advise that I can give is if your shoulders are stiff and sore after a day of paddling, try the Greenland paddle it is the difference between using a shovel (Euro Paddle) and an airplane propeller to propel your kayak.
I make Greenland Paddles, some are customized to fit the paddler, some are made to a standard length and width. I use red cedar, yellow cedar and some spruce. I build laminated paddles to provide the strength and stiffness that some paddlers require for their type of kayaking. A longer paddle may be good for expedition kayaking whereas a paddle for rolling may be a little shorter but more flexible. To really find a paddle that you like, you may have to try a few paddles of different shapes and lengths. The length of the paddle also depends on your kayak, if you have a low volume kayak, you may need a shorter paddle. Your body size also dictates the length and size of your paddle. If you are a small person, you will require a shorter paddle than a large 6 foot plus paddler. You may require a longer paddle, depending on the volume of your kayak. The size of the loom varies too, with thickness and length, again depending on your body size, small hands, big hands.. So as you see, one size does not fit everyone.
I sell non-laminated solid red cedar paddles for $250. The laminated paddles require more time to build and therefore I charge more for these paddles. I sell red and, yellow cedar laminated paddles for $350. When I find a very beautiful piece of red cedar, I try to emphasis the beauty of the wood, by laminating it with very white pieces of yellow cedar or spruce to show off the contrast. These paddles, I sell for $350 plus. This premium wood cost more and is in very short supply, therefore I have to pass this increased cost on to you the customer.
Red cedar, especially old growth red cedar, is very brittle and requires a laminate of yellow cedar to increase it’s durability. Yellow cedar has been used for years to build fishing boats here on the BC Coast because of its strength and durability in salt water, but it is heavier than red cedar. I have made plain yellow cedar paddles and they are heavier than a solid red cedar paddles. On the plus side you won’t break a yellow cedar paddle while you are paddling, maybe rolling logs on a beach with your paddle would do it.
So if you are interested in trying a Greenland paddle or taking some lessons on how to properly use a Greenland paddle go to the bottom of this page and contact me, I always have a few paddles on hand for you to try. My workshop is in Comox BC and I always have a few paddle blanks for you to choose from.