Grey Owl Fleetwood - first impressions...

Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
405
Location
Wyoming
Recently took delivery of one of these nice Grey Owl paddles and had the chance to spend a few hours with it today. I'm not qualified to do an actual review nor do I have enough time with it yet thus will offer my first impressions of the paddle.

I'm an intermediate skill level solo paddler. I paddle from one side using corrective strokes, working to improve my offside skills. Today's paddle was in a Wenonah Wilderness on calm lake waters with a light breeze.

The Fleetwood is a lightweight general purpose solo paddle, blade size is 8"x21". The grip is a symmetrical pear style. The thin blade has a light f/g overlay and full edge wrap protection. Constructed of basswood and white cedar. Advertised weight for the 58" paddle I ordered is 18.5 ounces, my paddle comes in at an actual 18.6 ounces.

My most used paddles are Bending Branches, specifically their Explorer Plus and Espresso. I'm in Wyoming and had trouble locating a stateside dealer. Contacted Grey Owl and they referred me to Piragis. I had forgotten they carried the Grey Owl sticks. Piragis service was, as usual, top shelf.

Unpackaging the Fleetwood revealed a very nicely done paddle. Examining the finish carefully I found only one little booger in the varnish up near the grip. I easily nibbed it with some fine sandpaper and buffed the spot with some 4-0 wool. I'll be stripping the lacquer finish from the grip and most of the shaft later and giving the ose areas a nice oil finish that I prefer. I usually leave 8 fingers of lacquer above the throat.

The Fleetwood's pear grip is smaller than that of the Bending Branches and I have large hands. My concerns were quickly alleviated once out on the water however and found I actually liked this more compact pear grip better. Very comfortable and easy to rotate. Haven't used it with gloves yet.

The blade is thin and easily flexed with one's hands. I could not feel the flex in the water but I'm not a power paddler. The Fleetwood is an incredibly quiet paddle compared to my BB sticks. Entry and recovery are smooth as butter. This thing does the Canadian with a grace that brings a smile to one's face. That thin blade just loves to work the water during my moderate stroke. I'm guessing the Fleetwood is a joint friendly paddle.

Edgeguard on the blade aside, this is not a paddle you want to bang around and you can kiss it goodbye if you were to get it stuck in the rocks. This is an open water paddle. The 8"x21" blade is just about as big as this ol' man can use for extended periods of time. I'm in pretty good physical condition and train regularly doing free exercise and some dumbbell work. I pushed my boat pretty hard today just to see if I could make that Wilderness go faster with the new paddle. I forgot my damned GPS thus cannot qualify/quantify but I did feel faster with the Fleetwood. And I can feel a little extra fatigue in my traps, lats and outer delts tonight.

Side slippin' - wow, just wow. This Fleetwood loves to scull. I don't know if its the thin flexible blade, a longer blade length than I'm accustomed to or what but man, can you side slip right along with this paddle. I side slipped around for probably a half hour in and around small rock islands in the lake. What a hoot - I was feelin' like a pro :) Side slipped upwind and downwind.

The Fleetwood communicates a goodly amount of 'feel' to the paddler makes bow rudders a joy. Slips right in elegantly even for this mid-level paddler. No surprises as one can feel the effect and trim to suit. Even my cross Duffek felt and looked pretty good and cross strokes are not a strength of mine yet.

All in all I'm extremely pleased with the Fleetwood at this point and I suspect this will only become more so in time. My hope was for a good performance all around solo paddle that was noticeably lighter than my BB sticks. The Grey Owl Fleetwood Js and Canadians wonderfully, sculls and rudders like a champ and going from a 25 ounce paddle to a sub-19 ounce paddle is certainly noticeable. The Explorer Plus will still get the nod in the shallows but the Fleetwood will take care of things in the open water.

Looking forward to using it in some active water and weather conditions. I think it will do the job.

A note of thanks to Charlie Wilson as it was his mention of the Fleetwood in a couple of threads that got me interested in the paddle.

The Grey Owl Fleetwood web page:
http://greyowlpaddles.com/project/fleetwood/

Piragis Northwoods Co., a distributor for Grey Owl paddles:
http://www.piragis.com/
 
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Joined
Sep 13, 2013
Messages
427
Location
Long Island, NY
Wow, you really got into it! It's neat to study how the different paddles feel in the hand and move the water so differently.

I'm glad you got something lighter and you are enjoying your purchase. It's always fun to try new stuff.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
Kudos to Grey Owl for putting shaft measurements in. Its nice to have a moderately priced paddle that is good at slicing and dicing. Not everyone wants to spend lots of money for a paddle.. Looks like a good replacement for the old GO Freestyle.
 
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
405
Location
Wyoming
Wow, you really got into it! It's neat to study how the different paddles feel in the hand and move the water so differently.

I'm glad you got something lighter and you are enjoying your purchase. It's always fun to try new stuff.

I'm pretty sure the two kayaker friends whom were with me grew tired of hearing me extoll the virtues of my new paddle on the way back to town ;)

Kudos to Grey Owl for putting shaft measurements in. Its nice to have a moderately priced paddle that is good at slicing and dicing. Not everyone wants to spend lots of money for a paddle.. Looks like a good replacement for the old GO Freestyle.

Amen to that. I've no experience with high end custom type paddles but this is surely the nicest production paddle I've used. I'm thinkin' there will be more Grey Owl logos hanging in my garage before its over.

Excellent review. A few links to the manufacturer and vendor would be a nice addition to an otherwise impeccable gear review.

Thank you, sir - links have been added. Suggestion appreciated.
 
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