Submitted: 11-08-2005 by Kevin1963
I thought the first time I viewed a Greenland paddle in a catalog that it was one of those specialty items that appealed to a select small group of paddlers, little did I know that one day I would become one of its biggest promoters.
When I first started kayaking I bought a Euro-style paddle at the local dealer because thatís all they had and thatís all I knew existed. It was light and could be feathered or unfeathered and after I painted the blades neon orange for added visibility I thought it was the perfect paddle.
But after several months of paddling fast with a very aggressive hard angle I started to develop wrist pain. Thinking my future of kayaking was coming to an end before it really got going led me to research everything I could find on paddling and wrist pain.
One of the sites that I went to promoted the benefits of Greenland style paddles and how they might be easier on my wrist, so I thought why not try one out. This led me to another web search were I came across information about a company called Betsie Bay Kayak.
The remainder of my review will center on Betsieís line of Greenland paddles.
The first Greenland paddle I bought from them is called the Inuit and it is not only a pleasure to look at but it does what any good paddle should do, it moves the kayak. The first thing I noticed about the paddle is how light in feels in my hands, I was expecting something much heavier.
I couldnít wait until the next day so I could get out there and try it out because while the paddle might look nice and feel light while Iím playing with it in my living room its not until the blade hitís the water that the true test takes place.
I expected this 3 inch wide blade to barely move me, so I was surprised at how quickly I was able to go once I learned the Greenland paddling style. And what do I mean about Greenland paddling style? Well thatís the secret behind why this paddle works so well. First I had to unlearn just about everything I had learned about paddling with a Euro-paddle and relearn a new low impact, high repetition style stroke to take full advantage of my Greenland paddle.
Now I donít want you to think Iím bad mouthing the Euro-style paddle because it to has its advantages over even a Greenland paddle but you need to bare in mind that Greenland style paddles have been around for a lot longer than Euro-paddles so the Inuit have had a lot of time to work out some of the kinks.
But like all good things there are downsides to everything and the only downside to a Greenland paddle is that they are not very visible compared to the orange or yellow blade on a Euro paddle (of course being seen was not something the Inuit wanted while hunting, verses paddlers such as myself who are trying not to get run over by power boats while out on the water). Could you paint the ends? Well I guess you could, but after you see the workman ship that goes into a Betsie Bay paddle I think you will elect not to.
Something else that surprised me about these paddles was that they sound good; there is just something about the sound a wood paddle makes when going threw the water that no other material can compete with.
So what else do I enjoy about these paddles, well for starters my wrist pain went away, so as far as Iím concerned they do work. Something else I noticed was it was easier to roll with a Greenland paddle, there was no guessing as to what position the blades were in because with this style paddle its idiot proof. I also found bracing, both hi and low to be easier as well.
One other area were this style of paddle excels is in the swamps. If you have ever paddled in a swamp then you have probably experienced having to clear your paddle of swamp grass. A Euro paddle with its sharper angles and bends tends to catch more of this #$%& but a Greenland paddle used at a low angle and with short strokes tends to pick up much less swamp grass.
One other advantage of using this style paddle in a swamp is you can use it as a pole to push yourself threw mats of swamp grass, reeds and cattails. A Euro paddle would never stand up to being pushed on the ends like this.
Greenland paddles are what I would refer to as interactive paddles, in that you use the entire length of the paddle to perform various functions; so drip rings and paddle leashes donít really work well here and a spray skirt will go along ways toward keeping you dry.
During the course of a typical dayís paddling I will go through a wide variety of Greenland paddling strokes from a cruising stroke, to a sliding stroke, to a wide angle sweep for turning, to a sprinting stroke, some times my hands are held close together and at other times they are far apart for more power. In some ways I feel sorry for those people I see out on the lake with their Euro-paddles just going round and round with their paddles like a propeller on an airplane (how boring)
After buying my Inuit paddle I decided to buy a shorter storm paddle as a back up. Betsieís storm paddles are much shorter than the Inuit and are intended to be used during bad weather with a sliding stroke. Lashed to the forward deck so its always available this paddle is a blast to play with.
When I bought my Prijon Barracuda I discovered that my Inuit paddle was to long for this much narrower kayak so once again I turned to Betsie for a solution and they had one in the form of a Greenland paddle called appropriately enough; the Greenlander. This paddle is longer than a Storm paddle yet shorter than the Inuit paddle. Betsie Bay Kayak web site will help you to determine what length would be best for you.
Betsie Bay Kayak is a small company located in Michigan. Iíve spoken to them on the phone and was surprised when I called and asked them about the status of my paddles that they knew who I was just by the paddles I ordered. I found that to be very comforting and much better than calling a company and being told something like ďwe are experiencing hi call volume, but your call is important to us, please remain on the line and the next available operator will answer your callĒ
Regardless of which Greenland paddle you select (or like me you can buy all three) I think you will enjoy it. The paddling style is different but no less rewarding and your sure to draw attention from other kayakers who are wondering just why your paddling around with a stick in your hands.