GP questions

Hi all-

Hope you are having a great week so far.

I’m starting to look for a first greenland paddle. I have a Cricket Designs laminated Arctic Spoon feathered wood one-piece 210cm smallish euro-design), which I really like. In fact I like the feel and performance of wood much more than I would have thought. I do like the epoxy/varnish finish a lot, although I know many people don’t. I don’t much care for my Werner anymore.

I’m looking into three at the moment, Betsie Bay’s, Friday Harbor’s, which is I think my favorite, and the Cricket designs, which I can’t find a lot of information about. I plan to use it hard, so it’ll

have hardwood and epoxied tips I expect. I’m pretty excited about this whole thing to learn to roll with (I have a roll that bats about .750 one way and .500 the other way with the spoon), and I will use it for a lot of self-rescue practice. I think a laminated design would be less prone to failure from outright user abuse than a single piece of wood, but what do I know.

So here’s my list of questions for any help you might have to offer:

  1. Length: I have a 17’x22" (really 21.5") 13" deep Ellesmere. I do think I like the 210cm paddle I have now, but I could be convinced that’s too short. If I reach up and do the length thing that way, I need a 83", about 210. I’d like to give my shoulders a rest though, and I think longer would let me keep the loom lower and still bite some water. I’m 160#, 5’7", more trunk than legs. Thoughts?

  2. Blade tips- I see them with different shapes- round, square, somewhere in between- any experiences with this?

  3. I’m a little intrigued by the take-apart versions with the euro-style carbon fiber ferrule, for the sake of convenience and travel. I’m trying to envision how this will change things. What I’m

    imagining is it makes the shaft stiffer in general, but I can’t see durability issues unless it’s between the carbon and the wood. I know the purists think this is blasphemy, but hey…I’m not sure about this feature, so ignore it if if churns your stomach.

    Do you have any experience with any of the three companies I listed?

    Thank you for all your help!

    -Matt Ware

I’m guessing an 84" to…
86" stick would do you nicely.

I have a 2-piece GP (carbon ferrule), and don’t really care for it. Not as friendly for the sliding techniques and I really prefer the feel of wood.

Before you order a GP you might want to talk with a maker by the name of Don Beale. He can offer a lot of good advice and he makes very nice paddles. His site is here:

Pleasant waters to ya.

check out Lumpy Paddles as well
Bill Bremer makes a mean Greenland paddle. He will also ask you a lot of questions to help you figure out a good paddle for your specific paddling style and needs. Don’t forget there is more to a Greenland paddle than length (loom length, loom diameter, blade width).

If you are going to get a Greenland paddle (or any paddle) you should get one custom made for you.

Some observations and suggestions
Stay away from the Betsie Bay, as it’s a crappy design designed for a specific technique that’s basically a bastardization of the way Greenlanders paddle.

Friday Harbor’s paddles look nice on their site, but I haven’t seen one. Superior, Bill Bremer (Lumpy’s) and Don Beale make nice paddles. Cricket paddles are also nice, if a bit heavy.

Reinforced tips are a good idea. Epoxy coated tips are easy to repair, which you WILL have to do if you use the paddle hard. You don’t necessarily need hardwood tips, but if the extra weight doesn’t bother you, they are more durable.

Laminated paddles have the potential to be stronger, but a carefully selected piece of quartersawn red cedar will produce a very durable paddle. The problem is that unless you make it yourself - another option - you have to trust the paddle builder to select good wood. I’ve seen a few commercial paddles made with inferior flat-grain wood that I would never use for my own paddles or in the paddle making class I teach.

For someone your size, an 84" paddle is probably about right, but you can certainly start out with something longer, say 86". It may make the transition from a Euro paddle less “traumatic”. :wink: A 20"-21" loom should work and I would recommend starting with a 1 1/2" x 1 1/4" loom and 3 1/2" blades unless you have smallish hands. That will give you plenty of blade area and a reasonably rugged loom, again to ease the transition from a Euro and make it less likely that you’ll break the paddle while learning or during rough use.

Tip shape is largely an aesthetic choice, but rounded tips tend to be quieter in the water and less prone to chipping than square tips.

Two-piece paddles have their place, but installing a hard, stiff ferrule in a soft cedar paddle is risky, as the ferrule material will compress the softer cedar in use, eventually loosening the joint between them. IMO, a two-piece GP should have a hardwood or hardwood-reinforced loom to prevent this problem, but that adds considerable weight.

Wow. Thank you all for all the information. I think I’m leaning towards the Lumpy at this point, and I’ll get up with Bill ASA(reasonably)P.

I’m really quite excited about it! Hope to jump in soon…


I’m happy with my Tuktu paddle, Chris does good work. His site has a good section on wood selection too. The paddle photo on the storm paddle page is mine, taken on the North side of Devils Island in the Apostles last summer.

FWIW I don’t have a lot of experience for comparison I’ve tried a Cricket a little and some homebuilts.