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  Aqua Bound Paddles
  Posted by: pblanc on Jan-01-13 3:07 PM (EST)

do represent pretty good value and are certainly worth consideration.

Since you don't know at this point whether you will prefer a feathered or non-feathered paddle, it probably makes most sense to buy a take-apart-paddle (TAP) which can be set up either feathered or non-feathered, preferably one that can be set up with different degrees of feathering so that you can try it in several different ways and see what you like best.

Paddle length is a matter of individual preference to a large extent. There has been a tendency to go to shorter paddle lengths in recent years. You are not particularly tall but you have a fairly wide boat which usually dictates a somewhat longer paddle length. If you tend to paddle with a relatively relaxed low-angle stroke (which many beginners, recreational, and touring kayakers do, you tend to need a longer paddle. If you wanted an off-the-cuff suggestion, I would personally go for a 220 cm paddle.

If you choose to set your paddle up with a fairly high feather angle (60 degrees or more) you will need to familiarize yourself with the concept of a "control hand" and decide whether to set it up right hand control or left hand control. If these terms are confusing you can find a wealth of information on beginning kayak paddling technique with a quick internet search. Unfeathered paddles or paddles with a mild degree of feather (30 degrees or less) do not, or may not require using a dedicated control hand.

Actually, for every wind situation in which a feathered paddle is advantageous there is at least one other for which it is detrimental. Feathered blades are not advantageous in either tail winds or side winds (especially the latter). Feathered paddles are something of a hand-me-down from whitewater slalom kayaking in which a feathered blade was less likely to result in gate touches from the high blade. Feathered blades are an advantage for busting through big waves, as you sometimes need to do in whitewater, or paddling out through surf. Otherwise, feathering is largely a matter of preference, just as paddle length is.

Many people find at least a mild degree of feathering easier on the wrists, while others find a non-feathered paddle to be kinder.

In addition to the Aqua Bound paddles you might take a look at the FoxWorx Paddle site:

They have some pretty decent wood shaft, fiberglass blade paddles for $140 and wood shaft, carbon blade for $165.

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