GL and Alaskan paddles?

Has anyone here ever used an Aleutian paddle? How do they compare to a GL paddle?

I can see a trade off, in the fact that the Aleutian blade has a flat side which would probably make it a bit better for sculling, but the trad-off is that it’s not used the same on both so the loom would have to be made in a way you could know which side was facing which way at any time 100% by feel.
I don’t know what shape the loom should be on the Alaskan paddle. Rounded triangle? If so, the point of the triangle should face either the flat or the ribbed side, but I don’t know which.

Still, making one with a laminated rib and laminated loom would be quite easy for me, so maybe I should make one and try it out IN ADDITION to making a new Greenland paddle and just see what I like.

It’s not all that time consuming for me to make the GL paddles. My last one was ready for sanding in 2 hours from the time I first started it. The time waiting is in the finish work after sanding. The coats of Tung Oil take only 10 minutes per day with wet-sanding, and so the "time’ is just what it takes for the finish to harden up. If the skies are clear I can apply a coat every day, and it usually takes only about 4-5 coats. If cloudy it can be one coat every other day.

My next GL paddle I intend to make too big, and probably too long.

I can then trim it down a bit at a time until I get exactly what I want. Once I am done with the reduction in size I’ll do the final finish.

The two I made so far are too short and I feel the blades should be a bit wider and longer from tip to the loom… I am learning how to use them, but I sure can’t get very close to my forward speed with what I have now, (standard spoon bladed type) but maybe I did them wrong.
Too short means my arc of the strokes are smaller then my Euro Paddle, and with blades only 3" wide I am not catching as much water either. If I make the blades 3.5" to 3.6" wide, and longe,r coming back to a shorter loom, and them make the whole thing 8 feet long I can trim it back for length and width both. I know my looms are longer then I like on the two I already made. I would like to make my loom about 4" and maybe 6" shorter on the next one. In doing that it also makes the blades longer so I’d catch water clear up to my hands.

Anyone out there that has used both would be someone I’d love to talk to.

The Alaskan natives have have used their style for many years and so I assume they know what they want, but I want to know WHY they prefer that shaping.

Learning about all these things is a LOT of fun for me.

I use an Aleutian paddle.
Started with Greenland style, I found the Aleutian fit my boat/paddle style better

JohnFH, do you find the Alaskan paddle gives a better catch on the water then the GL paddle? How do they compare to the Euro style?

I have 2 GL paddles, but I made them too small (short in both overall length and length of the blades and I think I should make the blades a bit wider too) so when I compare my progress with my GL paddles and my Euro paddle, the Euro beats my GLs in distances traveled by a notable amount.
For sculling, bracing, rolling and so on, the GL paddle is easier and more simple to use then the Euro blades, but for covering any distance the Euro gives me a LOT more distance for the energy I spend. My cruising speed is now about 3.5 MPH with my Euro and with my Greenland paddle I am only getting about 2.7 MPH.

I use a shorter Euro paddle on my Rec-Kayak because of the narrow channels and streams I take it into, but for my Necky Chatham17 I like the longer paddles. The next Greenland Paddle I make will be 8 feet and if that’s too long, I’ll just shorten it. I am going to make the blades longer and the loom shorter. I can shorten the blades if I want, and I can lengthen the loom if I want later on.

When I finally get the “perfect fit” for me, I will make a take-down collar so I can take the paddle apart for traveling. I will them also make a spare, a bit shorter, to stow on the deck. But I don’t want to finalize all my work before I get things as good as I can get them, and for now I am still in the learning stage. So I am looking for all the info I can get.

In a study I read comparing a modern spoon, Aleutian style and Greenland style paddles.
The spoon was most efficient, Aleutian came in second, the reason given was reduced cavitation as a result of the ridge on the back and then Greenland.

In group paddles I’m never behind or trying to keep up. I also paddle boats that are generally fast by design and think I have a pretty solid “ from the core” technique.

In the bigger picture the paddler makes more of a difference then the paddle.

I’d be curious to see the study groups rendition of the particular stroke used with each paddle. Seems like a bogus representation that actually says nothing, and possibility shows personal bias.

It was a university study that used a robot arm in a controlled tank. Not sure the robot can be biased.

Since the stroke for these paddles is not the same. The robotic would need to set properly and that would mean that the students setting this test / simulation would have to be equally proficient with all style tested. {any tank test using a canted Greenland stroke and it’s forces imparted by this would be quite different to set up} {…thus false conclusions are made}

Your last statement however, I find completely true and would only qualify it by saying that the paddler is most efficient with the paddle they are most familiar and proficient with.

Any style paddle used in an in-efficient way will be…in-efficient

It goes back to the origins, which is really cool.

The kayak was a part of the hunter, built to fit him, just like the paddle, all unique to the user, and when combined becomes a complete unit all working together.

I’ve been using the GP for a long time. Someone loaned me an aleut paddle to try. For me, it didn’t perform any better than my GPs and it had an annoying ridge in it… and it was heavy. I’ll stick with the GP.

Yeah, that’s what the robots want you to think.


Key words “someone loaned you”
Big difference between loaned you and made for you.

My Aleutian paddle is 1.6 pounds my Greenland about 1.8.

This is what I see all the time . On several threads here, major discussion on many of the different euro blades, the manufacturers and the differences. {multiple Euro Blades sizes, shapes and styles}

But when it comes to Aleutian or Greenland paddle…people treat them as tho there is only one style and all of both categories are the same.

Then starts the wildly written generalizations and comparisons / conjectures … using a sample of one that someone made by " sort of" following directions from on the net. If that was the sample used when discussing Euro Paddles {sample of on made by someone using directions from some guy on the net} Then this would be an interesting study in complete generalizations without ANY significant data. YMMV {for Aleutian and Greenland paddle discussion sample of one , skews the outcome of conclusions}

Roym made most of the points I wanted to make - especially that the people testing paddles in a lab need to have some pretty deep knowledge of how the paddles can/should be used.

Re the study mentioned that proves spoon paddles are more efficient, I’d like to see the reference. I’ve read many studies and all are pretty limited in the conclusions they draw. In particular, saying a paddle is ‘more efficient’ is not meaningful without defining what ‘efficient’ means. There are multiple valid ways to quantitatively define efficiency, so it matters.

Re robots, I doubt they are adept at reproducing a realistic paddle stroke, so the measurements would be suspect. The mention of cavitation is likely a misstatement, since cavitation is local boiling in low-pressure flow zones caused by high velocity flow. The speeds needed to create cavitation are higher than what normally occur during paddling (unless the robot is going very fast). I’m guessing the real issue is ventilation, which happens when air is drawn down into the water by the paddle during entry.

The difference is easy to determine - air bubbles from ventilation rise to the surface, vapor bubbles caused by cavitation immediately collapse when leaving the low pressure zone that created them. For example, cavitation damage on ship’s propellers occurs on the propeller blade itself after vapor bubbles are formed on the leading edge of the blade. Those bubbles never make it to the surface.


Szihn, your thread caught my attention. I’m interested in your analysis. I’m interested in any details you are willing to share. I joined the forum to find info on a new boat, but the paddle threads have me riveted. I intend to keep my boat because I have accurate log entries with conditions over the same or similar courses. Looking at your avgs with Euro and GPS, I’d like to work with you to work through this together. I had no interest in traditional paddles - considering them poppycock. Then I got some very focused and detailed posts that fascinated me. I don’t care if I use one or not, but I want to learn everything about them. I can build a paddle. I’ll build one that works for me. Even if I violate standards. What does it hurt. Call it a hybrid.

You mentioned 3.5 mph cruising speed with Euro, 2.7 mph GP. I’m interested in the location (I’ll look on Google maps) you paddle, distance, boat used, paddle model and length, addling style, and your perceived output (moderate pace or aggressive). We can go from there if you are interested. I don’t have high level handling skills, but can easily and confidently handle Small Craft Advisory conditions (please, I won’t respond to posts about precautions I need to take). To let you know up front, my interest is straight and fast. Look forward to your response.

JohnFH, personal bias doesn’t bother me. I’m interested the blade profile that causes less cavitation. It is up to me to try to eliminate the personal bias. I have a favorite paddle but if I go with a partner. I let them use my Kalliste and use their paddle. When we switch, I analyze how it changed my speed and effort. I also evaluate how it changes their handling by pacing them. Throughout the trip I push max speed under different conditions, using each blade. I have no bias. I typically own both blades, so if a blade out performs the other, I’ll take the winner. I finally asked the right questions of experienced ksyakers and they gave me too much info to process, so I need to start into testing. I’d like to know your thoughts on paddles.

RC51Mike, stange as it sounds, what we see about robots in movies does come true. I hope they haven’t learn to mislead us on paddles yet. I fear that someday soon they will, so we have a lot of work to do before they develop a sense of humor and begin to play with us. I though I heard my phone chuckle the other day. It was just that the last phone call didn’t disconnect.

Jyak, I would be happy to help and if possible get help myself. I am learning and I love the things I am learning. It doesn’t get old or boring for me at all.

Most of my kayaking has been on Boysen Resivour, the Wind River and the Bighorn River. (Same river, but the name changes just south of Thermopolls Wyoming)

I use a 7.5 Series map and a set of dividers along with a clock to come up with MPH. These are statute miles, not Knots. My spoon paddle is nothing special and was one that came with the purchase my wife made when she bough 2 Old Town Loons a while back, but I use it for my sea kayak too. It’s 7 feet 9 inches long and the blades are larger then what I see sold of the time in the big-box stores. The blades are about the same as I see on many White Water paddles, but the shaft is a lot longer. The kayak is a Necky Chatham17. When I use it I go at about 1 stroke every 1.5 seconds and I exert some force, but not enough to tire myself much. I am very used to endurance work and so maybe I have some advantage there. I am short and muscular with a 38" waist and a 45 inch chest, and I sit low in the cockpit so that may or may not help. I expect it makes some difference from a man who’s close to 6 feet tall, but if it helps of hurts I can’t say. As a former US Marine and also from 25 years of teaching hand to hand skills to government personnel, I do have good core strength and endurance. My full time job now-days is a gunsmith, but not the type of guns most folks think of today. I make flintlock arms, like those made 200-250 years ago, I do all the work with hand tools as it was done 200-250 years ago, so working wood and metal with arms and core muscles is helpful in paddling too.

I am about 90% done with a new “Greenlandish” paddle, but like you I am not following tradition exactly. It’s 8 feet long and has long and wide blades. Probably too long and wide, but i can cut it down if I go overboard with it. I hope to be using it soon. The blades at “too wide” at 4.7" and so if I find it’s too much I’ll simply slim them later.

My understanding of GL paddling is that the length of the blades is enough to give about the same number of square inches of traction in the water as an average Euro-blade. That was NOT true of the 2 GL paddles I made already because I did them wrong. They are simply not large enough to give me the purchase in water as compared to my spoon bladed paddle. The paddles are 7 feet, but the loom is too long making the blades too short and the widest part near the tips is 3.2"
The one I am making now is 8 feet and the loom is only 19" long. The blades are 4.7 inches wide and have parallel sections near the tips 5" long before I started the tapers back towards the loom. This paddle is going to have a LOT of purchase and may be too much and could end up being too heavy. I’ll let you know. But that’s how we learn I guess. I can’t try others from other folks, because other than my wife Anna (who has the same euro-paddle I do) and one man who only comes around for 2 months a year, I know of ZERO other kayakers inside 200 miles from where I live. They must be more, but I have found none at all. So I am on my own to learn other then being about to speak on the phone and use the internet.

Roym, your comment about the machine test reminds me of (I’ll call him a close associate) using a mechanical device called a Ransom Rest to test pistols that he builds and ammunition he loads. The device give consistent results, but the tightest groupings typically with all shots touching is only achieved by hand held. You point out that machines are not smart enough to outdo us “yet”.

You also point out one of my failings. I thought the paddle an associate made, looked like a twin bladed cricket paddle. He left it at the shop and I didn’t look at it critically until I read some GP posts. It’s about 89" with a 19" loom, 1.5" diameter. Blade 3 1/2" X 35" length. Hardly a club. I ignored what I was actually looking at while my associate discussed design. I only saw what my bias about the paddle told me.

Carldelo. First time I heard that described. To many great points in these thread to comment on. My experimentation seems to confirm the observations. I’ve managed to evolve my stroke to slip the blade in with little turbulence and the exit slips out without a distinct snap or abrupt break. The feel isn’t as noticeable at slow deliberate strokes, but differences grow as speed increases. The inferior blade begins to flutter. It feels like bubbles and weird vortexs form. Fatigue takes a toll if you press one paddle over another as you have to grip the inferior paddle more tightly.

I am glad I found your post and it drew my attention. First, I need to explain that I’m neither qualified, not inclined to advise you of what paddle style, length weight, or brand you should use. In fact your roll is to offer what you find that works for you. Same with boats. I know the Necky Chatham by style. Not by use. The deck height, hull width, and 31x16 inch inch cockpit exclude me from even getting my head in to inspect the interior. Most of my discussions will be based on a 145 Tsunami, new models changed. Mine is 14’6", is 25.5" wide, 16" deck. I’m 6’ tall. 38 waist, just dropped to 225-230 lb range, size 13 shoe, for some reason, size 52 suit. You have the power and I’m sure the stamina to improve.

If you haven’t read the cabon paddle post, the Aqua vs. Werner posts, or the Building a GP Paddle post, yikes. It loaded with very detailed information. Also some excellent videos on building paddles, weight, blade profile, shape, length, high/low angle. You get through that and you’ll have a very good base to decide direction you move. Alo one video on setting feather. I keep blades at zero, but the poster invited my attention by saying, this explains better than I can, so I had to look.

My primary paddling area is limited to the Upper Chesapeake, and river networks up to York, PA on the Susquehanna River; also James River around Jamestown. I have few kayaking skills other than paddling straight and fast, up to 30-36" wave height. That’s “my” baseline, so you can judge for yourself whether you can attempt or meet anything I suggest you can do. You are Marine qualified so I know you can endure pain and doubt you will not meet a goal you set. Digest this, look at the paddle posts, and I’d like to start by asking if you have any comments or questions.

I will point out from the start, I welcome other member comments, but have no intention to answer posts that are critical. Better to ask have you tried this insteD, because you will get better . . . What I’m sharing isn’t a recommendation. It’s merely an explanation of how I achieve the results that I found. I’ll share logs and also have conditions that I can add.

I’m curious about the distances and average time on water for your typical trip.

Looks like you got nice weather and a 19 000 acre playground. If I’m reading info correctly this week, you are having cool nights and low 80s during day, low humidity. Moderate to 15 mph winds. Considering the length, you could get 12 -18, 18 - 24 inch waves and a moderate wave current. River flow current probably not that significant and no tides.

One place I visit on the Susquehanna below York, PA, is six plus miles by a bit over one mile wide. The Conowingo is over seven mile long by over one mile wide. Wind can build waves similar to what I suspect you may experience. Chesapeake Bay experiences typical tides that range from 0 to 2.2 ft. North winds tend to empty the bay. Southeast winds loads it with higher levels. Salt water is heavier, so it plows under outflowing fresh river water. The length of the bay is a perfect length to have a high tide (same is true of low tide) at the ocean and the head of the bay at the same time. Tide readings are complicated and best sampled where you paddle. Readings 2 miles away might be 30 minutes delayed. I mention this, because no two trips are the same, even if you go one day later. I can explain if you have interest, but it doesn’t matter other than answering questions I think you you may ask if you consult a chart, and are curious to know how it affects speed. It’s just an educated WAG judgement on my part. Current has a very different impact than wind.

I use a Garmin Colorado GPS. I started recording, start/stop times, as well as point of departure/return and way points landmarks or aids to navigation. Then a divider. I used to check even after the GPS and found chart method was within so close a margin of error, it rarely changed more than as much as 1/4 mile. You should get that degree of confidence, so you can trust your estimates.

I found an android app called geo track that records many parameters (distance, avg speed, max speed and tracks your course. Finally found a Pelican case, $23 on line, that has never failed to keep dry the contents. Next trip will be first for this phone. I have five obsolete cases from phone upgrade. It doesn’t give you a dashboard, but does document your trip. There is no hand held dashboard GPS that I know of to monitor real time speeds. My Colorado is fading. But I have a spare for when it dies. Paddling without it is like an endurance course that has an unknown cutoff time but you don’t know until you finish whether you passes or failed. Seeing that your speed is dropping below average can sway your speed by .5 mph. If I’m falling under a desired average, I’m able to tweak the average up by .1 to .2 mph. You’re in fresh water. So you have other options. Mention all this for clarification of how I get number that I may reference. I’m sure you can up your numbers, but don’t feel you are falling short if you don’t reach the same goals. I think you should hit 4 mph over 15 to 20 miles.