: As I am letting strips dry for the deck on the kayak, I have been thinking
: about a paddle. I have seen and talked with people about the Greenland
: paddle but I have never talked with anybody about a Aleut paddle.
: Does anybody have an opinion about the Aleut paddle as compared to the
: Greenland paddle? I know that it use a different stroke as compared to the
: Greenland Paddle. Does the ridge require a groove or would a solid ridge
: be just as good.
: I found some plans on the net by Lew Plummer which is a copy of a Aleut
: Paddle in a museum. In Wolfgan Brinck's book he shows sizing the paddle
: similar to the Greenland Paddle, how does everyone else size their
: Has anybody had problems with the paddles warping due to being exposed to
: water and then drying? Does the finish help prevent this?
: Ray Kissane
I build Aleut style kayaks, so I was interested in the drawings David Zimmerly has in his book “Qajaq” of and Aleut paddle. There is a new edition of this book now spelled “Qayaq” available. Check David’s web site at: www.arctickayaks.com
The drawing is very small but there are measurements and sections given.
I’ve made my version of the Aleut paddle for the last 7 years.
In general the Greenland paddle has blades with a symmetric diamond shaped section progressively more flattened and widened toward the blade tips. The blade tips are round. The blade edges flow smoothly into the loom. Length is about 86” This shorter length gives the paddler more power. Most of the Greenland style paddles I’ve handled have had fairly heavy inflexible cross section which does not appeal to me. I have not used a Greenland paddle for any length of time.
The Aleut paddle has an non-symmetric blade the power side is slightly convex changing to flat near the tips. The back of the blade has a full length spine running to the blade tip. The blade edges have a definite angled shoulder at the transition to the loom. Length is about 96”. This longer length give the paddler more speed.
The spine on the other side of the blade, gives added strength to the blade in the forward stroke. This spine continues right down to the pointed tip of the blade creating a beefy tip that will not break off. The spine allow the blades to be thinner reducing weight and increasing flexibility.
The angled shoulders of the Aleut blades where they meet the shaft have several purposes. They act as drips edges to keep water from running down the shaft. They also are reference points for grip placement. The cross section shape at this point of the blade is very purposeful. You will notice that the shape of the blade is quite rounded on the flattened or power face side of the blade. This allows the hands to slide from the shaft onto the blade without catching on the drip edges of the blade. At paddling speed water does not have enough time to drip off the shoulder because of the length of the blade.
The paddle is quite flexible which is very kind to the body and joints. The flex also allows power to be loaded into the blade in quick sprints and rolls. It is very nice to get a little kick of power at the end of a roll from power loaded with the paddle flex.
I build this paddle by gluing up a paddle blank made from northern white cedar and mahogany. I prefer this method because it allows me to select totally clear cedar because of the smaller dimensions. I use hardwood to strengthen the paddle and add visual interest. The placement of the hardwood on the paddle shaft is very important. The hardwood must be positioned on the shaft so that it is parallel to the blade surface orientation. This creates an I-beam like structure that is much stronger than a shaft made of one piece of softwood. Making a paddle of laminated pieces allows any defects in the wood to be eliminated. By gluing up the blank I can reduce the amount of stock removal and visualize the paddle proportions sooner. Also the edges of the blank are flat and regular, so it is easy to draw lay-out lines to guide stock removal. The finished weight of my paddle comes in at about 32 oz.
Most Greenland paddlers like an oil finish. This must be continually maintained to keep the paddle from absorbing water.
I like to seal my Aleut style paddles with epoxy and finish with varnish. This makes them tough and no maintenance.
All the best,
Laughing Loon CC&K