(Apologies for a picture-less blog entry)
It's been just over a week now since I finished the new paddle. Actually, since my last post I made some changes to the paddle. Before I proceed I should give a bit of background. My father-in-law, while not an overly critical man, is not shy in pointing out flaws or imperfections in things - even if those things are still "works in progress". It appears he has passed this "quality" along to his daughter, my wife!! When I presented my paddle to Cheryl for her "adoration", the first thing she said was " this side was thicker than the other" After admonishing her for being too much like her father, I took out a set of calipers and I'll be damned but she was right!!! Of course, I'm a bit anal about things like this (what a pair we are, what?) so I decided that the paddle needed some "work". In this case "work" meant taking it out to the back step at 12:30 in the AM, after having a few beer and "attacking" it with a wood rasp and sandpaper. Of course, this was not before I marked off all new lines. Thank gawd that golden horseshoe is still in place, because I managed to create an even better paddle!! It's better balanced, the edges are sharper and the overall form is much tighter!!
While I took the "old" paddle to the pool on Tuesday, I managed to take the "new and improved" one out for a scoot on Saturday. I'll have to admit, it's a very nice paddle. You can certainly feel the extra bite of the wider blade (3.75 compared to my normal 3.5) but it's not enough to be uncomfortable. I made the edges and the tips my standard radius, i.e., pretty sharp and this makes the paddle very quiet upon entry in the water. Once I got the right angle down, there was no noise upon entry in the water and no raspy sound of water bubbles (cavitation) about the blade during the stroke. VERY sweet!!
I did manage to get myself into a few spots where the plastic tips came in handy. (The linked image is on the blog of a fellow paddler, Stan Mackenzie. Check out Stan's Kayaking Dreamin' when you get the chance.) I pushed off pretty hard on the rocks a few times and instead of the wooden "thud" of cedar on rock, I got the more reassuring "tink" of hard plastic against rock!! My paddle sustained no injury whatsoever. I did, however, put a few small gouges in my hull!
As we were finishing our paddle on Saturday, I managed to hit "the zone". You know, where you turn your brain off and let your body take over. I found the paddle ultra quiet and ultra smooth. It felt like a hot knife in butter. Every stroke was powerful, smooth, noiseless - a sheer joy.
Boys, I think we got a winner!!