Paddles by George

Why would anyone want to try paddling a kayak with a Skinny Wooden Stick?

That’s what I thought too when I first saw people paddling a kayak using a Greenland Paddle 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 lower, no high hand above your shoulder, so less strain on your heart.
  • 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 and the Greenland paddle as a means to hunt for food in a harsh environment.  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 contact with the Vikings.

The Euro paddle as we know it today has only been around for maybe 100 years.  So the advice that I can give you is if your shoulders are stiff and sore after a day of paddling, try the Greenland paddle, trust me, you will feel the difference.

On a more personal level, I love make Greenland Paddles for people.  The feel of the wooden paddle is different than having a piece of carbon fiber in your hands.  Most of the paddles that I make are customized to fit the paddler and kayak, some are made to a standard length and width.  I use red cedar, yellow cedar, and some spruce to make laminated paddles.  The laminated paddle then has some of the physical properties of each wood.  Red cedar is very light but also brittle.  Yellow cedar is very flexible but weighs more than red cedar.   A Yellow and Red cedar  laminated paddle will weigh slightly more than a solid red cedar paddle but the paddle  will have the characteristics of both woods.

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 yellow cedar paddles for $325.
  • I sell red and, yellow cedar laminated paddles for $375.

(Note: The laminated paddles require more time to build and therefore I charge more for these paddles. When I find a very beautiful piece of red cedar, I try to emphasize 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 $375 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 (but beautiful) and requires a laminate of yellow cedar to increase it’s durability.  Yellow cedar has been used for years in the construction of fishing boats here on the BC Coast because of its strength and durability in salt water.  I have made plain yellow cedar paddles and they are slightly 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 obtaining 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 fondle.  My workshop is in Comox, BC on Vancouver Island.  I am always happy to see fellow paddlers, so drop by anytime, well maybe check to see if I am home first.  If you live in North America, I can ship the paddle to you, however you will have to pay the shipping charges.

George McFarlin

Owner, Deep Bay Kayaking & Paddles by George

In the picture below are two solid yellow cedar paddles. These paddles are heavier than laminated paddles but you will not break them paddling or even rolling. By heavier I mean only a few ounces heavier and once you have tried these paddles you will not even notice the difference in weight. I am selling these yellow cedar paddles for $325 each.


Solid Yellow Cedar Greenland Paddle

In the picture below is a laminated red cedar paddle.  There are seven layers of red cedar in that paddle. If you look closely at the growth rings in the layers, you will notice how close together those growth rings are, this is an example of OLD growth cedar. That cedar tree was probably 600 to 700 years old when it was cut down by loggers in the 1950’s to 1960’s to make a logging road bridge.  Today that cedar is very costly and very hard to find. I am selling these paddles for $375 plus because of the cedar’s natural beauty.


Old Growth Red Cedar Paddles

In the picture below is a selection of Greenland paddles, similar to what you can expect to find if you drop by. Please note that the Paddle Socks are handmade by my lovely partner and are not included in the price of a paddle.

You are able to request your own Paddle Sock at $45 each.


Laminated Greenland Paddles