Euro paddle-Greenland paddle--hand

Here I go again fishing for information.

In my new found ability to roll (sort of) I keep thinking that I should be able to do this without a paddle at all. If in fact the paddle is not used in the roll, why bother with it in the first place? (for practice anyway, I realize the need to brace after rolling up etc) But if you lose your paddle or can’t find it under water even with the leash, wouldn’t it be advisable to be able to roll up without it?

Then there is all this talk about the greenland paddle and how it makes it easier because it floats to the surface and is easier to extend etc etc. I really want to try one out sometime for touring as I am a high angle paddler with a fat bladed paddle. (Aquabaound seaclude or seaquel - I have both and can’t remember which is the fatter one)

Anybody know how to make a cheap set of hand paddles? I really want to try this out…maybe a couple of small frisbees or something similiar? Ok that was silly…but what could be used?

Seems to me that this would be a good safety item on the boat anyway if you lost your paddle and had to get to it…at least you would have something other than your hands.


Hand Roll Is Nice To Have…

– Last Updated: Aug-15-05 6:53 AM EST –

but better to have a backup paddle on your deck. If you flip and lose your paddle, it's got to be in pretty serious stuff. Even if you roll up, you are serious doo-doo without a paddle.

It terms of hand paddles. You can just use an old ping pong paddle. Or you can buy one of those neoprene web gloves that folks use to help develop their strokes with. They're not anymore than about $15. You can make something but time and material are $$ too.

BTW, I use GP exclusinvely for touring and Euro paddles for ww and surf. Each type has its place. In terms of rolling, the truth is that if you can roll -- if you can hand roll -- than what matter the type of paddle? Consistent rolling is body mechanics and mental calmness in a stressful situation.


Paddles is paddles
I agree with Sing that if you really have a roll the type of paddle you choose to use matters little. That being said, one way to develop a consistant and reliable roll is to learn to roll with any type of paddle, including half-paddles, hand paddles, norsaq’s up to using a hat as a hand paddle and finally on to hands only rolling. The truely gifted greenland style rollers will point out that one can learn to roll without the use of hands or arms but that’s a bit beyond the original scope of the question.

Once you have a reliable handroll it will be rare that your paddle roll will fail. I view hand roll practice as a way to improve my paddle rolls. In tough conditions I would not want to be out there without a paddle regarddless of my rolling ability (or lack there of). Check out Paul Dutky’s “The Bombproof Roll And Beyond”. It’s considered by many the rolling bible.

Cheers and good luck!


rolling rolling rolling…
thanks. I will check it out (The bombproof roll and beyond)

I guess the subject was two fold. I am intersted in the greenland paddle as it looks like it would be very efficient and (dare I say it) pretty cool looking. So of course I want one.

rolling without a paddle is indeed the goal…as soon as I get some sort of reliable roll in the first place. Not because I see myself in any kind of situation where I might actually need it (God forbid) but because things are the way they are,with my luck, I would lose both paddles, my hat, and anything else not lashed down. did I mention that Murphy is a very close friend of mine?


You should have a spare paddle anyway, so why not buy a greenland paddle for your second paddle, rather than a cheaper euro paddle? I just got a greenland paddle and love it (I was using the carbon aquabound, but the skinny one, not the fat one–the expedition amt).

greenland paddle?
ok. suggestions for a place to buy one?

Be nice to my wallet!


length and size?
Ok so what I am reading is that the greenland paddle should have the shaft as being the width of your boat (In my case a Tempest 170 RM at 22") and a couple of fists widths to avoid banging knuckles etc. would this be corect? so my fist is about 5 inches wide…32 inches for shaft before blade? (please corect any technical terms here)

I have a 220cm paddle and already feel that it is too long. what length should I go for in a greenland paddle? I understand they are the most effective with a low angle stroke in windy conditions or for extended touring to not tire one out but also pretty good with high angle for sprints etc.

Seems to me that the only reason you would want to adhere to the two fist and the width of the boat woudl be for a higher angle style as a bit longer would lend itself to a lower angle paddle.

(Can you tell I know nothing about this?)

How much are these puppies anyway? I am woodworking challenged.


Most people make their own, but…
…there are good ones available. Cricket, Superior and Don Beale are three of the better GP makers on the market. Watch out for other brands with long looms (24" or more), as they effectively restrict you to one stroke technique, with the blade held perpendicular to the water. A properly fitted GP allows you to use a variety of stroke techniques such as the canted blade technique that’s the most widely used and taught in Greenland.

Make one
Very easy on the wallet. Visit the web site, and see the Chuck Holst directions @

I am a highly-NONskilled klutz with power and other wood working tools, but I can now pop out a new Greenland paddle in a couple of hours with a hand saw and a surform tool.

The only part that takes a bit of doing is finding a good straight-grained piece of western red cedar. The cost is around $16 - $24.

I use a relatively high angle stroke with my GP and I love it. My GP is actually about the same length as my Euro. My Euro is a 215 cm for touring (although I could go a little shorter) and my GP is 84 inches (213.36 cm). Although I enjoy carving GPs, I use a Beale paddle as my primary. It is the sweetest paddle I have EVER used and Don Beale is a nice guy and a wonderful person to do business with. I got a solid cedar paddle from don for $150 plus shipping which is a great bargain. Check out his website at and look under the ‘Dimensions’ link to determine sizing. Don can also talk/email with you to make sure you have the right sized paddle for you and your boat.

er…whats a surform tool?


googling as we speak.

hand paddles could be really fun,
to try and learn to hand roll with.

I used a greenland style Norsaq, like a lot of people here, and worked my way up to using just my hands.

A hand paddle as a spare paddle is a great thing for flat water, but the likelihood that you would loose a paddle on flat water is minimal. even in surf or white water I have only lost my grip on a paddle once. And this happened when my paddle got caught between the boat and a rock in ww so rather than break the paddle or my wrists I let go. That’s when you need a handroll…

But remember once you hand roll up and have no paddle-what’s your next move? In ww/surf kayaking, you’re stuck handpaddling back to your paddle, in sea kayaking you can at least get a spare. But it’s hard to assemble a two piece spare in waves. Another benefit of one piece gp’s I guess.

Be very nice to your wallet…
…and carve your own GPs!

Or, if you really want someone to build a nice, reasonably priced custom GP for you, perhaps consider Don Beale:

Another good source for commercially available GPs is Mark Rogers of Superior Kayaks:

Personally, I’d recommend carving your own, because there’s just something very special about taking a piece of wood and crafting it into your own paddling gear. Any way you go about acquiring your GPs, I’m sure you’ll really enjoy paddling with them. From the moment I tried my first GP, I’ve never looked back (even though I’m very happy and comfortable with a “Euro” paddle as well).


I agree about the loom length issue
Though the Betsie Bay kayaks are interesting, I do have an old BB “Greenlander” paddle that doesn’t get much use; mainly because of the loom that I feel is just too long. It feels more like a modified “Euro” paddle than a GP.


All GPs not equal
You could carve your own, with a few tools, but if you have no prior experience with one and no woodworking skills how good will t be? Worse, how will you know?

I’ve heard of several people who carve one and then don’t like it and hang it over the mantle. I’ve also seen people clunking along with poorly executed paddles. You need two things - a properly sized paddle AND a decently designed and executed paddle.

For commercial options I second Brian’s list, and have tried paddles from all three. I own and almost exclusively use my Superior Kayaks carbon GP and Storm Paddle (definitely NOT easy on the wallet - but excellent paddles). Kim has a Beale I ordered custom for her, and a nice one Sing made that converted her to GP in the first place (hers are small - 82" and 80" - with 17" and 15" looms - as she’s 5’3").

Size matters, and while it’s OK to take the boat beam into consideration - I’d suggest sizing it to you first. A basic easy sizing method:

For length - stand flat footed and reach one arm up. You should be able to curl your fingers over the end of the paddle. This is usually about same as your height or armspan tip to tip (these are usually close but can vary as much as a few inches on some of us) PLUS a cubit (elbow to fingertips).

I’m 5’9" but have a 5’11.5" span - PLUS my “cubit” of 17.75" for a total of 86.75" - 89.25" and have an 88" GP. A bit of a stretch but I can get my finger over the end.

For loom width - stand with arms relaxed at your sides. Bring forearms to 90 degrees (parallel to ground) by bending elbows. Make circles with thumb and forefinger (these would be wrapped around the ends of the loom with the rest of your hand resting out on the blade roots - the other way to say this is thumbs and forefingers inside shoulders, other fingers outside shoulders)

I’m fairly wide and a 21" loom fits (an inch or two narrower than my shoulders, and it’s only coincidence my boat is also 21" wide). Anything from that down to 18" seems common range for average males (5’8" to 6’2"?). Beware long looms until you spend some time with GP as they are usually made for a different paddling style and can impact your form (though all of this has a lot of leeway - the Greenland champ x 5 years is a small guy and likes longer looms of maybe 24"?).

For a cheaper wood Superior - order their paddle blank/kit which only needs some final shaping/sanding/finishing. But might be worth a bit more to just get Don Beale to hook you up for a first GP.

Anyway, point is to stick to proven guidelines/ ranges and decently made paddles and you can’t go to far wrong. You can personalize from there later. Buy wrong or carve badly and you don’t get a decent baseline to see what these paddles can really do.

So basically, I’m leery of the carve first advice. I’m also leery of the GP as a spare idea, unless you are VERY comfortable with a GP. Some take to them right away, some take a while, but either way the finer points take some mileage. A spare needs to be a trusted and reliable friend. Last thing you want when things go wrong is a paddle you’re not proficient with. With my first GP I committed to use it full time for a couple months and my regular paddle became my spare - where it stayed until replaced by the Storm paddle.

BTW - How tall/what’s your armspan? Shoulder width (or spacing as measured above)?

will do that today and get the dimensions back to you. thanks for the advice…makes sense. but the hard part is how in the world to tell if you take to them right away or not unless you have one to play with. Would hate to shell out the bucks for a paddle and then “hang it on the mantle”

(that storm paddle looks way cool)


Interestingly enough the top of the door in my office is the exact height for my fingers to curl over at 7 ft and 2 and one half inches or 86.5 inches. I am wearing dress shoes without much height.

Arm span with cubit is 87 inches. (69 and a half for span and 17 and a half for cubit)

loom width seems to be right at 19 and a half inches.


Am I going to be ok Doc?

sorry to be redundant but with a 86 1/2 reach…this translates to 219.7 cm.

87 inch armspan and cubit = 220.8

Is this the determination for the paddle length? And if so, How come the 220 aquabound I have seems to be too long?

(got to be because of the paddle length itself in contrast to the loom)

ok I’ll shut up now.

Both Don Beale and John Petersen
make GREAT GP’s. My main paddle is a Beale GP that is 89" long, 21" loom, and 3 1/4" blades. My spare is a John Petersen Storm Paddle that is 69" long with 3 1/2" inch blades.

Beale makes a lighter weight paddle than John, but John edges the blades with a heavy duty imitation bone edge for strength and looks.

He also made the loom of my storm a little heavier than my GP because as he recommended, if you are in conditions that caused you to break your main paddle, you probably want a stronger spare.

I recommend both and I love and use both paddles exclusively. I haven’t touched a Euro since I started using the Beale.

I also own a Superior Carbon, and have owned and used a Superior wood GP. The Beale is still my favorite though.

My height is 5’9" and my boat (a Gulfstream) is 23" wide. Both Don and John worked with me extensively getting the measurements correct. Since I had been using a GP before ordering either of these, I was able to make some really good decisions together with input from the two of them.

Good luck, but give yourself several months to try a GP. You can’t possibly start out loving them since they are so different from a Euro paddle.

in the words of EJ…
If you can roll up with a vertical paddle, then you’re ready to start working on a hand roll.