Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Learning Curve
   When I first starting paddling the Swede-form Cetus, I was all over the place. I has some problems that have been documented here (one still about to be solved), and Brian from P&H was there to support me. Still, I was having problems with performance. Let me rephrase that: the boat wasn't doing what I thought it should.
    Mixed into all of this was my obsession with longer and longer paddles (?shaft envy). I had, in the past, gone from a 220 to a 230 low angle blade and was thinking it worked better. In any event, I began to change things recently.
   First, I lost almost 8 pounds of belly fat (I had to brag about this to someone). Then, I accepted the fact that real men do ask for directions and even use the skeg at times. This past few paddles I began moving the foot pegs further away. I have always had them up and tight to jam my thighs under the braces. I believe this came from the feel of my skin on frame boats and the desire to always be locked in and ready to roll. The answer, of course, is to get the legs in the proper position and to pad the braces to meet the thighs (another on the to- do list). Now my torso rotation increased. About 24 hours ago I watched Danny Mongo's You Tube video on high v. low angle paddling.

    Danny always told me to use a shorter paddle. So what? I mean just because he lives and breathes paddles doesn't mean he knows it all. I added this to everything I've seen Ben Lawry do. Finally, yesterday, I really took a look at the boat. As you can see in the picture, it is narrow just ahead of the cockpit, especially where the blades enter the water. Would it not make sense that the most efficient stroke would be right along the beam of the boat? Yes!
    So, I took my 210 high angle paddle out with me yesterday and put the 220 low angle on the deck as a spare. (Maybe now would be a good time to confess that I had talked to the folks at Rutabaga about testing out some 215 high angle paddles). Out I went paddling into a NE wind and into the outer harbor where there was a 1-2 foot confused chop. All the while I concentrated on good form and keeping the blade close to the hull. Then out the gap onto open water where it was rolling 3-4 feet with a few breakers. All this time, mind you, I am adjusting the skeg to match the direction of the wind. Then I looked at the blades as I paddled ( I know, that's a no-no, but this was a scientific experiment that required observation. But I digress). I wanted to be sure I was burying the blades and noted that I was, indeed. In fact, I was putting a bit too much of the shaft under the surface.
   I still plan to go to 'baga to try out paddles, but it will be a shorter (205) high angle one I will be interested in testing. So, there it is, the learning curve. Can you believe how much smarter my boat is now?

Paddle Safe...


JohnB said...

Nice piece, great observations! Road Trip! I just ordered a new Werner paddle yesterday myself (210 straight shaft, Corryvrecken). I love my 210 Ikelos!

Brian Day said...

Good stuff Silbs. I'm paddling a 210 Ikelos and really liking it. Got out with a 205 Shuna the other day and liked that, too.

It's all personal preference, of course, but the short paddles do seem to be better for boat control and forward paddling efficiency.

Brian Day said...
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Silbs said...

Now I am feeling all warm and fuzzy (I seldom get one right). Thanks for the kind words. I am up for the trip to test more paddles (if I sell the two kayaks I put on the list I have space for more paddles).

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