21 May 2011

Experiencing kayaking with Greenland paddles for the first time

May 2011

Our kayaking club offered members an opportunity to learn sea kayaking with Greenland paddles.  I've never ever experienced to paddle with them, always have had some (negative) 'expectations' against them and used 'proper' paddles only. The lighter the better had been a motto, had thought those 'wooden sticks' would weight a lot more, getting nowhere with them in headwind and the only usage carrying them with you would have been cutting them pieces to get a small camp fire.

Well, now when writing this post in the afternoon, have to admit that all negative expectations were gone, and lots of new, only positive, feelings have appeared and would stay in mind now. Can you be so enthusiast about them, they are just 'wooden sticks'? Well, if you like kayaking and like to paddle, then you start to be keen on topics around paddling, not to mention equipment. To me from now on, they are the real kayaking equipment, not 'wooden sticks' anymore, and what's more, I started to like them.

More than dozen enthusiasts gathered to our club house this morning. Sunny day with a moderate wind, thus a good weather to stay in a kayak. All more or less stared at different size of wooden 'sticks' in a row, but simultaneously eagerly waited to try them in practice. Some had paddled with them earlier a little, some others like me, never.

There was a guy in front of us, a very experienced kayaker who had actually handmade all these paddles by himself, started to give a short theory lesson about right paddling techniques with them. He also explained different types of them, e.g. a model of Aleut type, west side and east side of Greenland (Aleut not from Greenland but from Alaska, islands near by) etc etc.    E.g. to me an Aleut type of paddle looked like two thin cricket clubs clued together ...

After theory, we eagerly jumped into our kayaks and got first paddle experience. Have to say, it felt so different that without to learn a right paddling technique with them minutes ago, it would have been a very short experience to me.

I was amazed how light it was to paddle, also how easy it was to gain a relatively high speed with them. Turnings, slow downs, all of them felt pretty easy.

After some experience we headed towards more open area and started to paddle against head wind. Waves were something one to two feet high.  Perhaps my biggest positive notice came then, how easy, how light it was to paddle in head wind. Really light!

We experienced wind from all directions, on purpose. We also exchanged paddles on the fly between each other, to experience different size and type of paddles in different wind conditions. Tested several models and loved all of them.  Also did some higher speed spurts with them, by just increasing paddling rhythm  not increasing any force.

After we came back to club house, some of us exercised rolls. Most of them said eskimo roll was more easier to do with them than with ordinary paddles.

My observation after paddling was that all participants were very happy about what they had just experienced, including myself. Especially to me, it was 'love at first sight'. Actually, it was not enough for me, I wanted more. I wanted to continue paddling with them in future, too.  Thus I made a decision to immediately buy one of them.  Luckily the lecturer sold me a one of them. It' s a west greenland type, a handmade from spruce.

So, tomorrow, I'll go to paddle with my new greenland paddle!

'Wooden Sticks'

The first victim

Busy exercise

Off we went

Time to test Aleut model


  1. Looks like fun. What is the weight and length of these, and of the paddle you bought?

  2. Length: when standing and raising your arm, then touch the top of the paddle well with your fingers. Mine's about 220cm.

    Weigth: haven't measured yet, less than 1000g, I presume (it wasn't any issue when paddling, likewise).

    Bought from the lecturer directly after our course: mykayak.fi (Niclas P)