Greenland paddle is a personal piece of equipment. Its optimal measures for you depend on:
- your measures and
- measures (width) of your boat. Take a minute to find out, which measures of the paddle would fit you the best.
There are two common ways to find out the optimal overall length of the paddle:
Stand straight on flat ground and raise one arm overhead. Measure from the ground to where your fingers would wrap over the top of the blade. This is the most basic way of measuring.
Arm span + cubit:
Stretch your hands to your sides and measure your armspan (from fingertip to fingertip). Then add the distance from your elbow to your fingertips (cubit).
Though those two methods are slightly different, they often refer to quite similar paddle length. For any case you should also consider the width of your boat. If it is clearly wider than average sea kayak (50-60cm), then you should consider a paddle at least on size longer.
There is one basic rule – choose the blade width that you can comfortably hold in your hand between the thumb and forefinger. It is no problem if the blades are a bit narrower than this measure but they shouldn’t be wider.
Loom length is also a measurement, which should fit both with you AND your kayak. A good way to find a starting point is to stand, shake out your arms (relax), and allow your arms to hang at your sides. Lift your forearms so that they are parallel to each other and horizontal to the ground. Your arms should NOT be held against your sides — let them “float” ( e.g. you should have enough room that a cloth rag stuffed under each armpit should fall to the ground rather than be held fast by arm pressure). Now make a “circle” with the thumb and forefinger of each hand. These circles indicate where the paddle-shoulders should be (where the roots of the blades begin).
Our greenland paddles are designed so, that if you choose a paddle with right length and blade width, then loom dimensions should fit you well.
CHRISTOPHER CROWHURST (QAJAQROLLS.COM) GIVES ADVICE:
“Paddles are tools, tools that should be used. Being made of wood it is inevitable that paddles wear, sometimes they get bumped and bruised while rock hopping, or scratched while learning sculling rolls. However the paddle gets worn or damaged, it is important to treat it well and take care of it like you would any other tool.
Small abrasions should be sanded down with ever smoother sandpaper, starting with maybe a 200 grade and ending with a 1000 grade. Minor nicks and bruises can either be sanded, or if they are more significant they can be smoothed out with a knife or spoke shave and then sanded. More significant damage may require epoxying or actually carpentry so in these instances I recommend consulting your paddle maker before commencing any work.
Once the surface is sanded smooth I recommend rubbing 100% pure Tung oil with a lint free cloth across the paddle surface, paying particular attention to the exposed end grain. The oil takes about 24 hours to dry. I like to do 2 or three coats of oil, twice a year. Once the final coat is dry I rub the paddle gently with bronze wire wool, this creates a silky gloss finish that is smooth to the touch.
If you take care of your paddle it will take care of you and should give you many years of service.”
TUNG OIL AS A WOODWORKING FINISH
Be careful with the handling and disposal of the rags used to apply tung oil. The oil itself is not a problem, however the solvents used to thin the tung oil are highly flammable and combustible. Allow rags to thoroughly dry on a non-flammable surface (such as a concrete block), or washed, or soaked with water before placing in the garbage. Solvents can generate heat through an exothermic reaction with the air (oxidation), and this reaction accelerates as the rags get hotter, and this has been known to start unintended fires.
WHAT IT IS?
Tung oil, also known as China Wood Oil, Lumbang oil, Noix d’abrasin (fr.) or simply wood oil, is made from the seed kernels of the Tung tree (Aleurites fordii and Aleurites montana, family Euphorbiaceae). The A. fordii tree grows well in cooler climates, but can survive up to sub-tropical climates. A. montana is restricted to a more tropical climate. China, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and the USA are all major producers of tung oil.
Tung oil has been known about for hundreds of years in China, where it was used as a preservative for wood ships. The oil penetrates the wood, then hardens to form an impermeable hydrophobic layer (repels water) up to 5 mm into the wood. As a preservative it is effective for exterior work above and below ground, but the thin layer makes it less useful in practice.
WHEN TO CONSIDER IT?
Tung oil seeps into the grain of the wood, giving it a perpetual wet look that highly accentualizes the grain of the wood, commonly referred to as “making the grain pop”. Because of this, the color of the wood is slightly darkened, giving the wood a rich, warm color that is very pleasing.
Tung oil provides a relatively hard surface finish that, as long as the surface integrity is intact, provides a waterproof finish that is impervious to dust, alcohol, acetone (nail polish remover), and various acids such as fruit and vegetable acids (orange juice).
Tung oil has a proven history in exterior applications, both above and below the soil level. Though the dried oil is relatively hard, the finish it provides is not the most durable. Tung oil is usually chosen for its aesthetic appeal rather than its wearability.
In its pure form, tung oil is a non-toxic finish that is ideal for surfaces that are expected to come into contact with food. This includes wood cutting boards, salad bowls, salt and pepper mills and any other project imagineable.
The following refers primarily to pure 100% tung oil. Please see the Variations section below for properties of those variations.
As long as the surface bearing the tung oil has not been damaged, tung oil provides the following benefits:
- Waterproof (or at least highly water resistant on a well maintained surface)
- Resistant to alcohol
- Resistant to acetone (such as nail polish or remover)
- Resistant to fruit acids and vegetable acids (such as orange juice)
- Flexible. Oil finishes continue to protect as the wood expands and contract.
- Accentuates the texture and grain of the wood
- Easy to apply (rub on, rub off)
- Very forgiving during application
- Easy to re-apply if the original finish becomes worn or damaged
- Non-toxic and food-safe (Pure form only! Be careful!)
Tung oil produces a mildly disagreeable odor for a few days after it is applied. This odor lessens with time, however some find that it continues for quite some time afterwards. If the tung oil is to be coated with some other finish such as wax, shellac, lacquer or polyeurethane, this smell is no longer noticeable.
Tung oil takes time to dry. Today’s high-tech woodworker is often in a hurry, but true tung oil takes its time to cure.
Pure tung oil has relatively poor penetration, and scratches that penetrate the finish can expose the bare wood beneath. This can be compensated for by adding up to 50% turpentine as a thinning agent to improve penetration on the first coat only. Subsequent coats should be done with un-thinned tung oil.
Pure tung oil is difficult to store. Depending on temperature, and exposure to light, the surface of the oil in the container will start to form a film or there will be gummy deposits around the container’s edges. Once these symptoms appear, the entire container must be discarded, since the oil will no longer be able to cure properly if applied.
Please note that all these variations on tung oil go through processes that render the finish toxic. Only pure tung oil which has not been thinned can be considered non-toxic. Please be careful.
I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.
HISTORY OF PADDLING
Difficult to say exactly but tradition of paddling is thousands years old. First people to build and use kayaks were inuit and aleut tribes in Greenland and Alaska. Kayaks were made by stretching animal skins over frames made of whalebone and whale- or seal-fat was used to waterproof the vessels. Kayaks were mostly meant for hunting sea-mammals but there were also larger boats (umiaqs) to carry entire family and their possession. Over thousands of years, nordic tribes improved their equipment and skills to survive the harsh environment of those areas. Europeans started paddling only in early 1800-s, after learning it from the inuits who were brought to Europe.
PADDLING TERMS IN KALAALLISUT (WEST-GREENLAND LANGUAGE)
Qajaq [qɑˈjɑq] – kayak. Only real greenland kayaks are called so. Other kayaks are often called qajariaq,meaning “like a qajaq”
Paatit [pæ:tit] – paddle. Also called pautik
Norsaq [norsak] – harpoon throwing board/stick
Traditional paddles were quite different compared to the modern big-bladed paddles. There is reason to believe, that the first kayak paddles were with leaf-shape blades. Over the time, paddles developed differently in different areas. In Greenland kayaks were used for hunting seals. Their equipment had to be as silent as possible to get close enough to seals to throw harpoon. They hunted mostly alone and capsizing was quite common. Since most of the inuits couldn’t swim, they had to master rolling skills and their equipment had to support this. Aleut hunters worked as a team and chased down their prey. That is why their paddles are longer and with different blade shape which allows to make more powerful strokes. And since they were working in a group, rolling was not so essential for them.
Today, most of the people think that all modern things are a priori better than old ones. Often it is true but in matter of paddles, the aspects what ancient inuits and aleuts expected are quite the same we appreciate today. Traditional paddles are:
- Very silent. Compared to euro-bladed paddles, traditional paddles generate less splashes and water-dropping. Enjoy the silence!
- Efficient and effective. In both greenland style paddling and -rolling, the goal is to get maximum results with minimum efforts. So you can paddle the same distance with the same speed but you create less noise and waste less energy.
- Mild to your body. With traditional paddles, you make rather soft and mild moves. Over long distances, you spare significant amount of energy and there is less stress to your muscles and joints. Try and you feel the difference!
- Best tools for rolling and sculling. There just isn’t any better paddle to learn and improve rolling and sculling than traditional paddle.
NEW! EastPole greenland paddle ISIGAA test. “Your most intimate paddling relationship?” by Christopher Crowhurst (qajaqrolls.com 11.02.2016)
EastPole aleutian paddle test. “A dichotomy of paddles – East meets West” by Christopher Crowhurst (qajaqrolls.com 30.06.2015)
EastPole greenland paddle test by Christopher Crowhurst (qajaqrolls.com 18.09.2014)