Greenland paddles

I have been making a greenland paddle and should have it finished this week. Once I have it made all I need to do is learn how to use it.

I have read that you need a different technique. So, if anyone wishes to enlighten me I would glady accept their knowledge and see if I can adapt to this new implement of recreational torture. . . Not that I all that good with a euro paddle.


Read this…

go have fun and get some mileage… read it again…

Canted forward and elbows down.

Just go put in some miles. You’ll get the hang of it. Worry about form and ohter strokes later.

Give it time
You may need some time to get used to it. I didn’t like them at first but now I have three. After a while you’ll find it just as capable as any euro blade. I’m actually going to try and make one too. I want to go a little longer this time for a slower cadence distance touring.

The info at QUSA will definately help.


I just started w. one middle of last season. Easy to use. Because it’s symmetrical in three planes, not dihedral, & unfeathered a Greenland lends itself to intuitive paddling. Don’t overthink it.

Any of the usual Euro strokes can be done w. a stick. You just have to be willing to sink it further than a Euro, & your reaction time has to be fractionally quicker to do it.

If you roll, or want to learn, the stick offers one less braincluster in that it’s symmetrical. It’s very buoyant,too, but so are the high performance foam core paddles, like the Werner Cyprus I like, so that’s a wash there.

Paddling at a moderately high angle in Eurostyle, I felt immediately that it’s not natural to paddle at the extremely low angle of many (but not all!) traditional paddlers.

There is nothing written in the stars or in stone about using a low angle “knuckle rapping” stroke, altho there is some instructional dogma about that. Go to youtube & you will see Maligiaq Padilla, one of the world’s very finest traditional paddlers, using a high angle style when he feels like it.

So play around w it and see what feels good and makes the boat do what you want it to.

Thanks for the info
I will more time to read up on it . . . I just split a huge chunk off of the loom. However, knowing my skills at woodworking I bought 2 WRC 2x4’s just in case. Back out tomorrow to work on beveling blades for experience then on to the second 2x4.

Great advice Friendly Fire
I use a carbon stick and I paddle with the same stroke that I use with a wing or euro. The key IMHO is to make sure that the upper hand remains parallel to the water regardless of the angle. When the upper hand drops it tends to cause the in water blade to scoop. Like FF said it is very intuitive.

Low angle baloney
One of the beauties of a GP is that it works at any angle. Anyone who tells you that you need to use a low stroke is full of it.

I agree completely
Unfortunately Michigan (where I am) is dominated by low angle advocates. If you go to a symposium and want to learn traditional paddling the only thing that is taught is low angle nonsense. Then there is Betsie Bay Kayaks. Their kayaks are fine. Their paddles are strange but used by the low angle folks. They are what Greyak calls two bladed canoe paddles. Sorry for the rant but the dominating culture cost me money spent on bad paddles and wasted time learning to paddle efficiently.

You’re right
BBK paddles are specifically designed for the “Van Doren stroke” and are basically worthless for anything else, as the looms are way too long and the blade shape does not encourage holding the shoulder or good water flow over the blades.

I owned an Aral for a while and although it was quirky in several ways, it was a great handling boat and the light weight was certainly a treat. I had a few conversations with Al Anderson back then and found him to be an extremely nice guy, though unflinchingly resistant to changing his ideas on boats and paddles.

For better or worse, BBK definitely marches to it’s own drummer.

I live in Michigan and only know two
people who use a low angle stroke. I developed a high angle on my own out of dumb luck I guess, but it was improved by Greg Stamer at a Q-USA training camp. If I have heard anything about Al, it is that he is completely unwilling to modify his design ideas. I think he is otherwise a very nice fellow and builds some beautiful boats. Bill

low angle community
in the West Michigan Coastal Kayakers there are many low angle trad paddlers (incl instructors) from the Doug Van Doren teaching tree.

I’ve taken two strokes classes w. WMCKA DVD devotees. There is always insistence on a very low hand position. If I am not careful I start inadventently hitting the skeg slider w. my right hand.

So I just nod, lower my knuckles for class, move the skeg slider back where it belongs, and then go away & practice at the height I like. No big deal. I’m not easily converted nor do I try to convert anyone.

Doug Van Doren has my full respect as a kayaker. His skills are incredible - beyond discussion of this particular technique. I’d happily take a session in say, balance brace and rolling from Doug - or anything else on the water he happened to be teaching.

BBK paddles I find excessively heavy & unwieldly. So are many homebuilt paddles which often land in the 36- 42 oz range. Wouldn’t like or use them no matter who made them. Light is right for me.

And, Al did listen to his many cohorts who teach and coach. They asked that the perimeter deck lines fore and aft move from the side of the deck to the usual topside position. This is now seen in BBK kayaks for at least the last few years (that I have seen, and I see many at WMCKA outings).

BBK deck lines
You might want to mention to Al that he should update his website with pics of the new rigging.

Now, if you could just get him to offer day hatches and make his cockpits a standard size (like VCP “Ocean” cockpit dimensions), that would really be something and would make his boats more interesting to many more people.

Like Al listens to me LOL
Currently Al and Betsy sell all they can make up there in Frankfort (a workforce of two) and have a waiting list nearly year 'round… they don’t want to become a bigger boatbuilder… so they are geared to what they can produce & what their current market wants.

I like them both and admire their passion for what they’re doing & how they have balanced their lives.

BBK Aral / Paddle
I used to be a kayak junkie with a garage full of kayaks–the Aral cured me. While you don’t have to go this route–Brian’s book is truly terrific–it is sometimes helpful to purchase or borrow a commercial paddle like a Lumpy or Don Beale to use as a model.

Here’s a list of instruction materials:

Here’s a list of commercial paddle makers:

I agree
If you can afford it getting a paddle from an established maker means you can decide about using a GP or not without being worried about whether you carved it well. I have two Superior paddles and am very happy.