Different Types of Paddles
(A work in progress - To be Completed)
There are two primary types of paddles either double ended as used with kayaks or single ended as used in open canoes. Within each type there are many variations to suit individual preferences and usage.
Double ended Kayak Paddles
The euro paddle
Bent shaft paddle
The Greenland Paddle, sometimes called a Greenland Stick, is the type of kayak paddle used by the original inventors of the kayak (Greenlandic qajaq = "Hunting Boat") the native Inuit and Aleut (or Eskimos as we used to know them when I was a boy). We have a lot to thank them for! In recent years the Greenland Paddle has developed a growing following amongst kayaking enthusiasts, particularly sea kayakers.
The Greenland Paddle is my personal favourite and the one I now almost always use when kayaking relegating my expensive Werner Carbon fibre shafted euro paddle for use as my on deck spare. While you can buy expensive carbon fibre Greenland Paddles it is also relatively easy to make your own at low cost with some simple woodworking tools. Each paddle is individually sized (length, blade width, loom length [the length of the straight piece joining the two blades]) to the paddler. There are numerous guides available on the internet giving you the traditional sizing methods. There are also several styles with square or rounded tips and tapered or more pronounced shoulders.
The video below gives a good introduction to the Greenland Paddle and it's advantages and check out the Cape Falcon website and their other videos for instructions on how to make your own. When I first saw a Greenland Paddle, after more than 20 years of using a euro paddle, I was very sceptical about it (surely a paddle that thin can't have any power?!) but all I can say is what they explain about the Greenland Paddle in the video below is all true. A friend of mine lent me his home made Greenland Paddle and within a very short time I was a complete convert and I have been using one as my primary paddle ever since (about 6 years and several hundred miles now). I find it easier on my body during a day's paddling, more forgiving to use in the water (less likely to catch an edge or lose orientation), easier to brace and scull with and much easier to roll with. Plus aesthetically I find it very pleasing and my beautiful hand made, oil finished (just multiple coats of Danish Oil and Pure Tung Oil, no paint or varnish), wooden paddle can actually be found hanging on my wall at home as a piece of decorative art between kayak trips (See photo above)!
Single Bladed Canoe Paddles
Single ended Canoe Paddles
Beaver Tail Paddle
Otter Tail Paddle