I too own a Beale laminated paddle. It is a beauty, and again it's Don's way not to take payment till the customer is absolutely satisfied with the result. In fact I wasn't totally happy with the first attempt and Don graciously accepted my criticism and remade the paddle which turned out beautifully. Great work and a most ethical businessman.
I give the paddle an 8 because I find that there is only one position in which I'm completely comfortable using it due to some lack of symmetry between the two ends.Don hit the nail on the head again with a fabulous paddle! The appearance of this 84" paddle is a nice balance between traditional and my "gotta have it look great" demands. The blades and loom are satin smooth with a Redwood center surrounded by Cedar, Ash, and hardwood edge for strength.
The paddle has a 21" flattened oval 1-3/8 inches x 1-5/8 inches loom. The maximum blade width is 4+ inches tapering smoothly to 1-3/4 inches just before the semi-hard shoulder. Due to my request for a wider blade, oversized loom, and Redwood (think gorgeous) center, this paddle has the stiffness I need. Yet, due to the box beam construction that Don employs - is still a good weight.
While paddling, I notice that it makes rolls even easier than my previous GP I used due to the higher buoyancy of this construction. It also does sculling in a way that I am not used to....I can hardly feel the blade in the water.
Don took a lot of time to get this paddle right, sent it to me within 3 weeks, and instructed me not to pay for it unless I was completely happy with it. Good luck finding any other company out there willing to say that!
I can't say enough about this paddle, except that I need to get a skin-on-frame (SOF) boat to go with it!I also have a solid western red cedar GP by Don Beale. The paddle is beautifully hand made out of western red cedar and is absolutely beautiful. It is a very dark red and looks much nicer than I expected.
Don spends a lot of time with his customers getting the measurements for their paddle so it will be right for them. Everything is custom made. I told him what I liked about my old GP and what I didn't and he gave me some advice about what works for him and what doesn't. I learned a lot just from ordering the paddle.
It took three weeks from the time I ordered the stick to when it arrived - and Christmas was during that time.
The paddle has a very clean catch and enters the water in absolute silence. There is a very definite grab when the paddle finally catches. The release was extremely clean too and you can actually feel your boat get a bit of a kick from the lift developed during the release phase of the stroke.
I found the paddle to be very buoyant and it sculls very nicely - you almost can't even feel the paddle slicing through the water.
Because of the lighter weight of this paddle, I found my cadence increased and as a result, my paddling speed increased. Instead of being near the back of the group when we started out, I was at the front and that was without putting out any more perceived effort on my part.
One of the nicest things was that Don didn't want any money until I had tried the paddle. He wants satisfied customers and will re-work it or make another for you if it isn't satisfactory.
Now all I have to do is save some more money and purchase a storm paddle from him.