Greenland Paddle for Beginner?

-- Last Updated: Sep-15-04 3:45 PM EST --

I've looked through the archives, but I didn't see anything that quite addressed my questions:

I'm a beginning kayaker, and the greenland paddles and paddling style look very interesting to me. (SOF kayaks also intrigue me, but building one is a ways off) Is there any reason not to start out learning with a GP? Is it going to be incompatible with a recreational boat that would fit my, ahem, "plus-size" body?

And while I've got people reading, I've just gotten my copy of "Building the Greenland Kayak", and while I'm wondering if I'll ever take on building a kayak, making my own paddle looks a lot less intimidating. Can a novice produce a usable paddle on the first or second try, by following the directions (in the book and elsewhere) carefully?

Why not?
I am currently paddling a QCC500 (large volume, 23" wide) SINK with a GP. Mine is 90", and seems to work well for my heighth/arm span/boat width. Obviously there is a learning curve with a GP, but there is one as well with a “Euro” style paddle - feathered or not. The GP may have a couple of quirks in it’s technique, such as the forward cant of the blades, but the bouyancy of the paddle should be a plus in learning.


go for it
why not??

The GP is low impact and very intuitive for anyone. I have used them in rec style boats and they work fine.

Yes, if you follow the directions you should end up with a decent paddle!


Why not? They do in Greenland…
I even paddle my whitewater boat with one (In flat water to practice new rolls), and it works fine. The particular paddle you use is less important than how well you use it.

Make one, and get some good instruction on how to use it efficiently. You won’t regret it.


Paddle plans

– Last Updated: Sep-15-04 1:29 PM EST –

These plans have been used as a starting point by several of the paddlers here. I found them easy to follow. My first paddle was one I made for my wife, and it came out very well. I roughed it out on a bandsaw and did most of the shaping with a block plane.
The Qajaqusa site is a good resource. There are some technique & rolling video clips at

For reference, these are considered to be among the best commercially availible paddles:

You’re first one will turn out fine
mine did and when I built it I had never really done any woodworking. After the paddle, building a boat isn’t much of a step.

There is none to not do it. Worse comes to worse, you work with it for awhile and find you don’t like GP style. You either hang it on the wall or give it away. (I have given 3 away.) If you like it, it will be the first of a number. You may then drift into making a SOF, a very satisfying way to get a custom fitted boat, by your own hands no less.

I like GP for touring. I like my Euros for surf and white water. Each style has its merits. Use both enough, there is no confusion despite what some folks may claim.



– Last Updated: Sep-15-04 5:15 PM EST –

... you ever want to give any more away, let me know! *L*

I may be looking for one for a smaller paddler soon.


– Last Updated: Sep-15-04 5:25 PM EST –

I make paddles for myself, then I get interested in another one and don't see reason to keep ones that I don't use a lot of. Better to give 'em away to someone around my size, who may use it, get intrigued and built something more fitting for themselves.

Sorry, I suspect that you're too big to use mine. I can try to give one to a Greenlander but I suspect s/he would think my work is primitive. ;)


Oh... Just caught the last line about a "smaller paddler..." Okay. Will keep that in mind. I have a cedar blank that I want to try making a shoulderless GP with. If I like that, I think my next paddle to go is a 82" long x 2.75" blade and small shoulders. I find I like blades from 3.25" to 3.5" wide. Must be all the Euros I've been using...

How “small” of a paddler
are you talking about? Okay, I’m 5’3". That size or smaller? If so, heck you can have the paddle. I have not touch that paddle for well over a year. Get rid of it.


That size!
She’s 5’ 2" actually. I was thinking she’d need about an 82", with anywhere between 15-18" loom being reasonably OK fit. Blade width optional - I have small hands and like my 3.5 - and hers are close, but anything less would work. Having never used blades that narrow I’d have no tips to offer her if it handles very differently and she’d have to find her own way a bit, but so did I when I got mine.

If you’re serious - I’ll gladly compensate or trade something for it. Might not have anything you’d want/need - but who knows. Maybe even something non-paddling related - just ask) - and of course I’d pay shipping, etc.

Let me know.

A wonderful GP link…
Just got back to paddling after many years, and started right away with a GP…the best decision I have ever made regarding paddling…go for it!

When you are ready to build(a paddle or boat), in addition to the the prior suggestions I would highly recommend the following site. Ross Leidy provides an incredibly beautiful and educational kayak building site.



Storing paddles takes a lot less room than storing boats. I got into building boats and we now have 7 and there are just 2 of us. Storing 7 paddles would be easier than 7 boats.

Go for it!
There’s no reason not to start with a GP if it iterests you. There’s differences in technique vs. a Euro paddle, but learning one style won’t prohibit you from learning the other later if you so desire. If you haven’t already been there, I suggest that you go to for tips and video clips relating to GP technique, as well as paddle making and boat building.

You can certainly make a functional paddle on the first try, using instructions such as those from Chuck Holst. It may not be perfect, but it will get you started and on the way to learning what suits you best.

As for building a skin on frame kayak, it’s nowhere near as daunting a task as it may appear. Once you get into it, you find that it’s just a series of simple steps and techniques that you learn through doing. It progresses quickly, which helps to keep you motivated. I’ve built three and just finished modifying and re-skinning my first one. Once it’s done and I’ve paddled it a bit, the third one will probably receive some of the same modifications. As with paddles, you probably won’t make just one and each one is a learning experience.

Many Thanks
I want to thank everyone for the responses and encouragement. My gut was telling me that kids in Greenland start(ed) with them, no reason I couldn’t, but sometimes the worry-bits of the brain need a little more help.

I think at this point my husband is the biggest doubter - he’s not sure a GP will work on rivers, and being able to get enough power out of it. Since Greenlanders had to maneuver through ice floes I don’t expect maneuverability problems - and it seems to me a storm paddle could have some advantages over a longer paddle on smaller waterways.

And, if I make my own GP and find I don’t like it, the biggest loss is my time (not that I wouldn’t like more free time, but…). :slight_smile:

Unless You’re In White Water
with a lot rocks that preclude getting the GP deep enough for sufficient catch, it should not have any problem working. The issue is whether you end up fancying a GP over a Euro.


A storm makes a great spare even if you end up using a euro paddle. It stores easily in the bow rigging on a sea kayak.

What Sing said!
That’s the only place I’ve found GP’s to be at a disadvantage.

Not one, but two laid out
Well, apparently my husband wasn’t as skeptical as I thought. Or the opinions here helped persuade him. Or maybe paddle-making is an excuse to play with power tools. :slight_smile:

Anyway, we went to the specialty lumberyard yesterday (Owl Hardwood Lumber Co., Des Plaines, IL), and came home with 2 blanks. Ron helped me get the paddles laid out yesterday, and will probably continue helping, especially with the cutting.

And it’s also an excuse for a Tool Fix. Going out tonight while the not-so-small-fry is at karate to pick up a draw knife.

Said kid (11 next month) is starting to hint that he’d like a GP, too, so I told him we’d wait until closer to spring. I expect he’ll hit a growth spurt again this winter, after all…

I Like You And Hubby!
You’re “go getters!” I just love it when folks don’t agonize stuff to death. You go, girl (and guy)!!! :slight_smile: