Monday, November 09, 2009

To Feather
or Not To Feather
(that is the question)
I have never been a proponent of the feathering of paddles. I know the reasoning: The high feathered blade cuts cleanly through the headwind. And why, I ask, are you always paddling into a headwind? Besides, this same set up wreaks havoc when the wind is on the beam and that feathered high blade is perpendicular to the breeze.

In addition (I've reasoned), I paddle with a Greenland stick at times, and I don't want any confusion as to blade position when I need to roll (with the Euro blade). Then came yesterday.

JB and I found a nice breeze and some calopotis chop out on Lake Michigan. I was in my Cetus with the skeg up and was having some weather cocking problems. The usual slight edging would not keep me on course. Then I watched my (unfeathred) blades in the water and saw something I've noticed in the past. My right blade was not entering as perpindicular to the water as was the left blade. What to do?

I remembered conversations with many paddlers who use just 15 degrees of feathering. They have said it gave them a more natural motion from one side to the other. So I tried it, and it helped a lot. Both blades had clean entries with good postitioning to grab the water. I still had a bit of weather cocking, but adding just a bit more edge smoothed that out. I will continue to use this for a while and see how it works out.

I cannot believe I am writing this after advocating the unfeathered paddle for so long. Oh well, it's just a light touch of a difference.

Paddle safe...


DaveO said...

I think I'd drop 2" of skeg and stick with my Greenland stick. When I first started, I paddled a feathered paddle because that's what they sold me. After nearly taking a swim in Saxon Harbor after a beam wind grabbed the upper blade I began the Greenland experiment, an experiment for which no end seems to be in sight.

Brian Day said...

Hey Silbs

I gave up the greenland stick years ago when I started whitewater boating for the very same reason--I didn't want to mess myself up switching from feathered paddles to unfeathered. Now I don't think it matters.

That was in the bad old days of "control hand" and "non-control hand". Old school thinking.

New school thinking is that there is no control hand. The hand closest to the active blade controls the stroke. The upper hand is loose.

Now that I have eliminated the control hand from my paddling, I can switch back and forth between low and high feather angles and greenland sticks. No problem.

It was an old habit that was a bit hard to break but totally worth it. I never teach the control hand thing now. Fewer bad habits for new paddlers to break later.

Coolkayaker1 said...

Silbs--I tioo advocate the unfeathered paddle. And I took almost tripped to the dark side and did the 15 degree thing. But after a couple months, i realized thatI am working ever so slightly hardder at going 15 degrees, and that teensy wrist twist is not as "natural" as I initially thought, and bada bing, I was back to the unfeathered turkey taht i usually am. Looking forward to your making a smiilar revolution.

Silbs said...

Me thinks we may be soul mates and that you are psychic. I have already gone back to the straight shaft with no offset!!!