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Paddling a solo canoe with a Greenland style paddle?

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I'm not afraid to break with tradition.
I started paddling my solo canoe, with a double bladed paddle, long before it became mainstream.
There is a local seakayak club, that I've paddled with a few times, and Greenland style kayak paddles seem to be very popular.
What I keep hearing from Greenland paddlers is that once they tried the Greenland, they never looked back.
They absolutely love them.
I've tried "European style" low angle paddles and didn't really like them. I go for a high angle model.
So maybe I'm crazy for wanting to try a Greenland, in my canoe, but I do.
My biggest complaint, with paddling a canoe with a double bladed paddle, is all the water that ends up in the boat.
I hear that there is a lot less dripping off a Greenland paddle. That alone might make it worth the switch.
Anyone else tried paddling their canoe with a Greenland paddle?
 
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I hate to admit it, but I had no idea what a Greenland paddle was. After a quick google check, it looks very interesting.
I just started using a double paddle, it's a lot easier on my old back and shoulder, but the dripping water in the canoe is really a pain. I'd like to hear from others that have used the Greenland paddle. Maybe I'll make one over the winter.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I started paddling my solo canoe, with a double bladed paddle, long before it became mainstream.

At the risk of being historically picky, I don't think you're old enough to make that claim, IS. Rushton's canoes in the last part of the 19th century were often paddled with double blades, as were their predecessors in Europe.

Also, while paddling solo canoes with double blades is not uncommon today, I'd hardly call it mainstream. Take a look at our poll on the subject, which has 97 respondents to date:


That all said, you can paddle a canoe with a broomstick or a branch, so there is no reason you couldn't paddle with an Inuit or Aleut paddle. With practice, you can slide you hands into different grips along the shaft, including a top grip like a canoe paddle for sweeps, bracing strokes and rolls. On the other hand, Inuit/Aleut paddles won't pull as much water as a Euro blade and are usually employed at higher stroke rates to compensate for that.

I never particularly noticed a drip difference between GPs and EPs if the stroke rate is the same, but then again I was in seakayaks where I wasn't really concerned with dripping. I have read lots of more experienced GP paddlers than I was claim that GP paddling is a wetter experience on the hands and skirts than EP paddling, because your lower hand can be submerged during the stroke and water easily runs all over the paddles. Others claim there are stroke variations that can diminish wetness and dripping with GPs. The Inuits used sealskin gloves and often wrapped the loom/blade transitions of their paddles to create drip dams.

 
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I've used both (GP & EP) in my kayak and don't recall any real difference in the amount of paddle drip but I normally wear a spray skirt so it's not something I pay attention too. Most of the time the GP paddle is under the bungees on the front deck as a spare paddle. I haven't tried the GP in my Rapidfire as I use a bent shaft canoe paddle as a spare or when conditions make it more practical.
The GP does seem to be easier on the upper body and it's easy to determine if you are using the paddle correctly as you get a flutter in the paddle if the angle is wrong. The one disadvantage of many GP paddles is that they are one piece so you are dealing with a 6 or 7 foot long piece of "lumber" to either put in your car or secure to the roof rack.
I'd suggest you borrow a GP and go out and play for a couple hours - the first 10 or 15 minutes it will feel weird but you'll enjoy learning how to slide your hands to benefit from the characteristics of the paddle.
 
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If you insist on high angle with a canoe twin, you will have to put up with the water drip ... if you use a low angle that issue goes away. I personally don't like high angle with a solo canoe, it's a lot more work and a lot messier. Not sure what a European Low Angle paddle is, my first low angle canoe paddle came from Grey Owl in Canada


One of my friends tried a green style for a season, but eventually gave that up as it was a lot of work in a solo canoe and he lagged behind for most of the season. Over that winter I made him a low angle canoe paddle and that is pretty much all he uses now.
 
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I started out in canoes where a vertical paddle stroke is good form. Then came kayaks. At first I the GP for change of pace when I got tired using my Werner Euro. It took about two years, but I came to prefer the GP. It just feels better in the water. The GP almost feels as fun as a single blade. The GP is the wettest paddle I ever used, perhaps in part because I go high angle, trying to emulate that vertical canoe stroke. There are no drip rings, so a lot of water falls in my lap.

I think I would hate a GP in the canoe. The geometry is just wrong. You sit higher than a kayaker. I use a 60 inch paddle in the canoe and a 45 inch single blade in the kayak, because my ass is at water level, vs. a foot higher in the canoe. Using the GP in a kayak, which is 23" wide, I sometimes drag my hand in the water beside my hip. I'm not sure how wide your canoe is, but you'll need a giant and heavier paddle to compensate for the wider boat and the higher elevation of the paddler. And you are never getting that hand much lower than the gunwale. So, it just seems all wrong to me. Summary: I think you'll be disappointed.

BTW, my profile picture is from the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race, 2016. In my hand is the blade end of a Greenland paddle. The race organizers commented that it was the first time they ever saw a contestant use a GP in the race. And they've been running that race 25 years. So don't think I'm against novel uses of a GP. I just don't think using one in a canoe will produce the same amount of joy kayakers get out of it.
 
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At the risk of being historically picky, I don't think you're old enough to make that claim, IS. Rushton's canoes in the last part of the 19th century were often paddled with double blades, as were their predecessors in Europe.

Also, while paddling solo canoes with double blades is not uncommon today, I'd hardly call it mainstream. Take a look at our poll on the subject, which has 97 respondents to date:


That all said, you can paddle a canoe with a broomstick or a branch, so there is no reason you couldn't paddle with an Inuit or Aleut paddle. With practice, you can slide you hands into different grips along the shaft, including a top grip like a canoe paddle for sweeps, bracing strokes and rolls. On the other hand, Inuit/Aleut paddles won't pull as much water as a Euro blade and are usually employed at higher stroke rates to compensate for that.

I never particularly noticed a drip difference between GPs and EPs if the stroke rate is the same, but then again I was in seakayaks where I wasn't really concerned with dripping. I have read lots of more experienced GP paddlers than I was claim that GP paddling is a wetter experience on the hands and skirts than EP paddling, because your lower hand can be submerged during the stroke and water easily runs all over the paddles. Others claim there are stroke variations that can diminish wetness and dripping with GPs. The Inuits used sealskin gloves and often wrapped the loom/blade transitions of their paddles to create drip dams.

To paraphrase Clint Eastwood in the Eiger Sanction, the operative word in my statement was mainstream, not first. I belong to a pretty large canoe club and when I first started using a double bladed paddle, I believe, rightly or wrongly, that I was the only one in the club doing so. In that early period I also did four BWCAW trips and I think I might have seen one other solo canoeist using a double bladed paddle. So, I think it is fair to claim that I was using one before it was mainstream.
I guess the only way for me to genuinely answer all my questions about a Greenland vs. Euro is to buy one. Unfortunately they aren't cheap. At least not by my standards.
It's always good to get feedback from other paddlers but, in the end, the only opinion that matters is my own. The reason I like high angle paddles more than low angle isn't as simple as it might seem. I'm not even entirely sure why myself, I just do. As for drips, I've heard all kinds of contradictory claims. All I know is that every single solo canoeist I've ever met, that uses a double bladed paddle, complains about water drip. It's an issue. If a Greenland paddle drips less, and I don't know 100% either way, it would be an important advantage.
 
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In my hands, the GP is the wettest paddle. Most Euro blades are fitted with drip rings, which keep most drippage out towards the blades. you still Get drips in the boat as the off side of the paddle passes over the gunwale, but most of the dripping first falls into the water. Unless you figure out drip rings for the GP, all the water runs to your hands and then into your lap.

borrow a GP and try it out before you buy. Borrowing will also help you figure out your ultimate paddle’s dimension, if you decide you like using the GP.
 
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There are plenty of resources on making a cheap GP out of a 2x4 - they seem much easier to carve than a canoe paddle. (I've carved a GP in a day in a wood working class for beginners). If you want to try one without buying and can't borrow, consider making a test paddle. There are several threads on the paddling.com forum with details.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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You don't have to go anywhere else to learn how to make a so-called Greenland paddle. Here's how to make one for two dollars in two hours:


Clark Bowlen used a balsa wood 2x4 to get the lightest weight GP possible.

Here are the correct historical dimensions for GP paddles and also how to paddle GP style, per the research of the late Inuit expert John Heath, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a lecture years ago:

 
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I’ve made one following Brian’s video and plans. It is pretty fast and easy (a power planer helps a lot). It will also be a very wet paddle in a canoe.
 
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In my hands, the GP is the wettest paddle. Most Euro blades are fitted with drip rings, which keep most drippage out towards the blades. you still Get drips in the boat as the off side of the paddle passes over the gunwale, but most of the dripping first falls into the water. Unless you figure out drip rings for the GP, all the water runs to your hands and then into your lap.

borrow a GP and try it out before you buy. Borrowing will also help you figure out your ultimate paddle’s dimension, if you decide you like using the GP.
Personally, I've found drip rings to be next to worthless. Most of the water runs off the corner of the blade, and into the boat, before it even reaches the ring. What little reaches the ring then drips into the boat. Obviously my high angle style contributes to this.
 
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When is was kayaking I used a gp almost exclusivily. I think a typical gp paddle would be too short to use with low arm angle like in my sea kayak. The low angle while paddling will be rather dry but I'm not sure you can emulate that style even in a narrow solo canoe.
 
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You don't have to go anywhere else to learn how to make a so-called Greenland paddle. Here's how to make one for two dollars in two hours:


Clark Bowlen used a balsa wood 2x4 to get the lightest weight GP possible.

Here are the correct historical dimensions for GP paddles and also how to paddle GP style, per the research of the late Inuit expert John Heath, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a lecture years ago:

I was considering making my own. Can't be that hard. But this guy has obviously made many paddles before and is far more skilled at it than I'd be. I'd probably ruin a couple before I got it right and each one would probably take me days, not hours.
A balsa 2X4? I've purchased a lot of balsa for making model rockets and it isn't cheap or strong. Also absorbs water like a sponge.
 
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When is was kayaking I used a gp almost exclusivily. I think a typical gp paddle would be too short to use with low arm angle like in my sea kayak. The low angle while paddling will be rather dry but I'm not sure you can emulate that style even in a narrow solo canoe.
I've been using a 220 cm high angle paddle. I've been thinking that 230 might be better. I've tried really long paddles using a low angle style and just couldn't get into it. I think I've seen Greenlands as long as 230. Most don't come longer than 220 and some only 215. The Greenland is so different from anything I've tried I can't really make a prediction based on my experience.
 
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I've thought about using mine while standing in one of my tandems, more for fun than really getting somewhere
It is probably a good blade shape for doing underwater correction strokes and keeping it submerged. It might not even be too long for this if you if you grip the top of one blade with your grip hand and keep it submerged to a depth that is comfortable to use. The more of the paddle that is submerged the more floatation it has and the lighter it will be.
 
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This thread got me curious so I took my Greenland paddle and tried it with my MR Indy. I had never used a kayak paddle, GP or Euro in a canoe, but I greatly prefer a GP when sea kayaking. The paddle drip wasn’t as bad as I expected when paddling fast. The velocity of the blade in the air (and a little wind assist) mostly kept the drops outside of the boat. More leisurely paddling and when doing vertical strokes such as draw, or slipstream, were much wetter. A sweep with extended paddle was pretty impressive, but felt like it could be dangerous to a shoulder due to the torque. My GP is maple and was made by Superior Kayaks, Inc. over 20 years ago. No way I could duplicate it. The variety of subtle strokes possible with a nice single blade and the comfort and varied positions in a canoe are what drew me back to my canoe roots a few years ago. Windmilling with a double,GP or Euro, isn’t as appealing to me anymore and my sea kayaks are pretty much relegated to stormy/high wind conditions.
 
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I paddle yak with a GP
and have tried it in my LoonWorks Nakoma
I was able to practice my sliding stroke pretty well but always wound up doing a J with the GP
Could get one heck of a low brace!
Drip rings meh. A good blade shape sheds water and flings it outside the boat
like my Werner Camano which I am liking
 
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