Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Lowly Paddle

It's come a long ways, the paddle has. Starting as a piece of drift wood whittled into a stick, the paddle has evolved more quickly than human evolution. Even back in the day when it was no more than a long thin board, this ingenious device has served as engine, brake and steering wheel when out on the water. It has propped up tarps to make a shelter and has been used in pole-vault fashion to finish an otherwise ill fated roll done in shallow waters. It is also handy in a water fight and for self rescue when used with a paddle float.

But man has never been satisfied with the statis quo. No sooner had western "civilization" found the Inuit and their wonderful inventions that it set out to make a new and improved version. Shazam, the Euro blade was born. Made of wonderous materials not found along any shore, it had a different, more efficient shape. Now paddlers had a blade that really and immediately caught the water and over loaded the shoulder and caused many a paddler great pain. Now paddlers had the opportunity to spend up to 25% of the value of their boats on a "Euro stick" instead of having to take a free piece of wood and carve it into one of those old fashioned things. Paddlers were delighted and living large.

Then the chemical engineers got a hold of our beloved engines and made them out of different, better, lighter and more expensive materials. Their work gave birth to new shapes and specialty paddles that made some of us feel that only kryptonite could stop us. What else could they possible "bless" us with?

Break it into parts and make them into mix and match affairs (the rumor that Marth Stewart is coming out with a line of designer paddles cannot be confirmed...but I digress). So what is the up shot of all of this.

Well, it used to be that new paddlers spent agonizing hours struggling over boat selection. Does it roll, hard or soft chines, ocean cockpit or key hole?...and the like. Now, we save our quaters and dimes and take our loose change jar along with a credit car over to the candy store where a bewildering variety of make-the-kayak-go devices make our eyes glaze over.

The helpful store folks explain it all to us and, if we are new at the game, don't understand a blessed thing we are hearing. In the end, we take out a second mortgage on our home, and the store gives us a blade and (wait for it) the shaft. What a hobby! Then off we go to enjoy the pure simplicity of kayaking while all the time dreading the arrival of our credit card statement. Brace yourself.

Paddle safe...



Kristen said...

Thank heaven for the Greenland paddle. I agonized for months (and months) on what paddle to get, and their prices; and then along came a stick, which I understand, and love.

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

My kinda a girl... $10.00 pair of shoes and a $100.00 shine.