Friday, June 08, 2007

Getting the Shaft
(in a good way)
It Ain't As Easy As
It Used To Be
(a primer for beginners)
Time was that my choices in blades was between Gillette and Schick. Since becoming a paddler, however, I have seen a steadily increasing host of choices in blades and shafts. To tell the truth, it can be maddening and daunting, especially to a newbie. I continue to see folks coming to their first lesson with paddles they have purchased based on the recommendation of someone at a paddle shop. Often, the blade is ill-suited for the size of the person, the boat and/or the type of paddling they are going to be doing
First, there is the length of the entire ensemble which must be based on the paddler's height, the width of the boat and whether they are a high or low angle paddler. This, in turn, leads to the choice of a blade shape.
There is the somewhat elongated blade for low angle paddlers, the "fatter" and shorter one for better conditioned and higher angle paddlers and the wing for those seeking the maximum efficiency in a paddle for a boat that will not go faster than 5 knots.
Then there is a choice between a straight shaft (in use for about 9000 years...but I digress) and the "ergonomic" bent shafts. Each bend, by the way, costs about $50-100 (I don't know what it would cost to straighten one out again...but I digress...again).
Last, and certainly not least, is the choice of materials. Like boats, paddlers come in several weights which are inversely related to their cost.
When all is said and done, many folks say, "screw the Euro paddle," and get a good old fashion Greenland stick. It is light, made of wood (except for the new high tech ones which are lighter and cost a lot more) and can even be made at home by those amongst us who are handy with tools.
I still use my relatively cheap Werner, elongated low angle paddle which no longer will come apart. I also have a few Greenland sticks that I occasionally use with the Romany and always use with my two SOF's. Lately, I must confess, I have lusted over trying a shorter euro with a high angle blade. Does anyone know where I can find a support group?
Paddle safe...


JohnB said...

Aisle 13 at SportsMart has lots of supporters. Perhaps you can find one there that isn't too binding, but provides just the right amount of support for you.

On the other hand (no pun intended) we can talk about your issues over coffee, Irish (or Scotch) Whisky, or while out on the water.

One day at a time my friend!

Silbs said...

I'lll wait until they're on sale :)