Sunday, April 18, 2010

Path of the Paddle

In 1979, at the age of 13, I designed and built a 13 ft skin on frame kayak. It was a rather crude craft with plywood frames, pine stringers and a painted canvas skin. Having built the boat I needed something to propel it. I promptly made a paddle out of plywood and a piece of handrail. Somehow or other, this paddle still remains in existence. My children found it somewhere and it was left outside for a number of years - lying on the ground in the woods behind my house. I rescued it last fall and it now has safe haven in my shed. I guess the reason I took pity on this poor thing is because it was the first paddle I ever made and, now that I've crafted a number of increasingly complex paddles, this one brings me back to where it all started some 30+ years ago!! I've made a promise to myself that I will take it out one day and actually try paddling AND rolling with it - just to see if it can be done and to bring everything full circle!!

Last year, after coming back to paddling after a very lengthy hiatus, I started making paddles again - and this time with a vengeance!! In the above image I've numbered each paddle:

1. First paddle ever made (by me). 1979. Wooden handrail with 1/2 plywood blades fastened by screws.

2. First Greenland paddle. 2009. Solid spruce.

3. First laminated cedar Greenland paddle. 2009.

4. First solid cedar Greenland paddle. 2010. (Currently on loan to a fellow paddler.)*

5. First Greenland "Storm paddle" Solid cedar. 2010.* **

6. Greenland paddle. Solid spruce Shorter paddle for other "less tall" family members and friends to use.2010*

7. First hollow loom Greenland paddle. Laminated cedar. Incredibly light at 25oz. 2010* **

8. Hollow loom Greenland paddle. Laminated spruce, cedar and aspen. 27oz. 2010* **

9. Hollow loom/blade Greenland paddle. Laminated spruce and cedar with maple tips and blade edges. A fine example of pushing the envelop too far! One blade broke during the construction and not, luckily, while in actual use. Had the potential to be a beautiful paddle!!

* Paddles that I have designated as Black Band Paddles which are distinguished by their black band of reflective tape near the tips.

** Tips are coated with a tinted epoxy.



  1. Your first paddle looks a lot simpler, but then again life at 13 was also a lot simpler. I bet holding it takes ya back!

    Tony :-)

  2. Yeah, things we're a lot simpler - and I mean everything!! There's certainly a lot to be said for those days prior to all the new things we have today. Technology certainly has a way of eating up/easting our time nowadays!!

  3. I am impressed that you still have the first paddle that you made, at the early age of 13!