Faulty Paddle or Faulty Paddler?

I’m a new kayaker. Attempted to paddle in a very shallow river yesterday, against a rather strong current, just the other side of a dam. (Actually started out paddling with the current but since I had no shuttle to get back to my starting point, decided I’d best turn around and test going against the currect before getting too far. End of trip…I couldn’t do it and ended up towing the kayak back upstream.) During my various efforts, I pulled off to the bank to rest and take photos; several times had to vigorously dig my paddle blade into the rocky river bottom to hold myself there or to push away when starting back upstream. When I got home, I notice that my paddle blade had just begun to split (separate layers) at the end. There was also a small crack where a tiny pebble that was caught in it. (I managed to Super-Glue the split–but not the crack–back together; I hope that wasn’t a mistake.) The paddle is brand new (less than 3 weeks). I’ve read that paddle manufacturers make their paddles to hold up against such things as pushing off rocks, but obviously, nothing is indestructible. So, my question is…did I abuse the paddle, or is it a faulty paddle that I should contact the manufacturer about? And if it was my own doing, is there some better way I should repair it? It’s a Bending Branches Breeze Day (retails for around $250 -$270, so not a cheapie). Thanks.


– Last Updated: Sep-06-07 1:37 PM EST –

Pushing off rocks with a composite blade IS paddle abuse. You may want to get a cheaper plastic blade for those conditions.


– Last Updated: Sep-06-07 1:47 PM EST –

You abused the paddle.If you are going to invest in an expensive paddle; it would be a good idea to get a much less expensive paddle to carry with you as a spare. Use it in spots like you described, until such time as your boat control, and route selection improves.

Paddles are not designed to push boats off shallow river bottoms, or to hold your position in shallow rivers with strong current.


Return Paddle

I’m a newbie, so I don’t have an answer, but this makes me want to look into what abuse my paddle can withstand. I have one called Bending Branches (Infusion). The pole is fiberglass, think the paddles are plastic. I think I will call the company and see what my limitation are since I tend to be less than delicate w/my things, especially things invovling somewhat rugged sports.

About your paddle, I’d still return it or try to. Stores like REI will take almost anything back which I think is part of why their products are expensive besides quality.

Maybe someone can jump in here, but let’s say with motorcycles helmets, once you drop it, they say it’s not good anymore. Sounds like you really damaged your paddle maybe too much to use and be efficient where it may create a drag of sorts, not being as aerodynamic, but I may be totally wrong here.



For that kind of abuse …
You need to be using a Carlise or Mohawk plastic blade and aluminum paddle. Wood or other composites just won’t hold up as well.

If you really need to push off rocks to go upstream you need to be poling.

I generally use my Aquabounds for river work since they’re indestructible. My ONNO is used for deeper water. I do plan on using the Onno for river racing, but will be careful with it.

Re: Replies
OK, thanks, all. Lesson learned. After using the paddle out in the water today, there was some discoloration (slight milky color), which I assume is from water leaking in between the separations or the small crack. How will that affect my paddling? Can I still use it with some efficiency, or should I retire it as an expensive spare?

Just send it back…

– Last Updated: Sep-06-07 10:10 PM EST –

...(call first for a repair authorization #) to the manufacture, tell them the same story you told us and how much you love it and that you won't do it again.. I bet they fix it for you n/c.
Paddle makers are pretty good people and they want happy people out there using their paddles..

That’s a better approach than…

– Last Updated: Sep-06-07 10:28 PM EST –

...that suggested by the guy who says to just try to return it. Just because store policy dictates that it's better to take a hit than to piss-off even the most unreasonable customer is no excuse to be dishonest. Grayak's idea is a lot more honorable, and if they fix it for no charge, consider yourself lucky, and if they send you a bill, it's better than buying a new paddle.

For saying all that.

SuzyQ, The paddle can be fixed no problem. if you do not get a reply from BB, call or email me and I will walk you through it. Not a big deal to fix, but take the higher road advice from above too. Returning it is why the stuff is so expensive in the first place too.

paddle advise
I suggest buying a Carlisle Day Tripper. About 40.00 so if you damage them, no big deal.

Don’t entirely agree. Some
composite paddles are designed and built to withstand bottom-poling and rock-whacking. Usually these are distinguished by aluminum or other kinds of tip inserts to withstand abuse. The classic examples were the old Norse canoe and kayak paddles. I have Mitchell and Clinch River canoe slalom paddles with aluminum inserts, and they are holding up quite well. Another Clinch River with a phenolic tip insert is wearing somewhat faster.

The sides of the old Norse paddles were just cloth and resin, and they were very resistant to chipping and delamination.

Obviously such durability means at least some increase in swing weight. But it helps when bears come to camp.

misc. hint…

…I done my own shuttles like that several times.

ALWAYS start out going upstream.

Otherwise you’ll go too far downstream and have to fight your way back up after you’re tired and you’ll

misjudge your time if you start out downstream.

i don’t get it
you bought a nice enough paddle - used it like a pole - and want the company to be responsible for damages…the paddle was probably fine when you bought it - you abused it - accept what you did take it as a lesson learned.

It was your fault.
A high end composite paddle was made for paddling, not pushing off rocks or poling yourself.

It would be wrong to ask the manufacturer to fix it for free.

With that said: it is a shame that you used super glue to repair it.

With some meticulous work you could have repaired it using a fiberglass or kevlar patch and epoxy. (you might still be able to)

Two years ago my wife cracked both blades on her brand new ONNO wing paddle by pushing throgh mud.

We recognized that it was our fault and I even told Pat as much. He walked me through the patch process, but said he didn’t think it would hold up.

Two years and a zillion miles later, the blades are still working perfectly and the only way you would know they were cracked is by the whitish patch.