Tough week for my favorite paddle

Love my GRB 6 degree bent shaft; it’s my go-to paddle for kneeling. Earlier in the week I was paddling upstream and it jammed hard on a submerged tree and when I finally got it loose it felt weird and lacked power. Turns out the grip had rotated on the shaft. It wasn’t the manufacturer’s fault since I had shortened the paddle and it was my glued joint that failed. Easy fix.

Then today I was on a section of river I’ve never paddled and came up to a small drop that I really wanted to try running upstream.

I knew I didn’t have a beater paddle so I took a chance and actually got all the way up the drop into “calm” (smooth) water but it was still too fast and shallow and I felt the paddle contact rock as I didn’t quite make it. I expected that worst case the paddle edge would chip like a Zaveral but unfortunately the blade folded so game over for this old friend.

I will be going back soon with sturdier paddles. :grinning:

That’s a tough break Tom


They are nice paddles. My wife has one & when I’ve borrowed it my Zav Rec feels like a club when I switch back.

Might be fixable. Ruth cracked hers the first time out. We were watching turtles & ran up on a hidden stump. 8oz of carbon doesn’t hold up as well as 20+ oz of wood. I have some 6oz carbon around so I cut a patch on the bias & laminated it on. Added about 1.5 oz.

My 13 year old Zav failed in December. I was pushing up a shallow slot around Potter Park & the bottom went from sand to clay & then the paddle felt wrong. Switched to my old Cricket wooden bent shaft & continued. After inspection, I found the besides the crack, a seam had also split & the foam core had disintegrated. I injected some epoxy in to seal the edge & then did a similar patch

Too bad - I picked one up at the Scantic race earlier this spring, and I was amazed how light it was. I stick with my Werner Bandit for just about everything. Eventually I wear down the bottom edge, but it is indestructible otherwise, but heavy.

I would explore a way to repair it if possible, then make that your “beater paddle.”

On Facebook “Canoe Paddle Makers” is a group I frequent, and although primarily about beautiful wood paddle creation, I have seen many inquiries on all sorts of paddle repair. Some of the “makers” are quite knowledgeable craftsmen who also have their own company/previously worked with top manufacturers.

Just a reuse, recycle, repurpose thought.
Not everything has to stay pretty/perfect to still be effective.:wink:


I know a guy with a business repairing carbon fiber bikes. CycloCarbon. He’s in Calumet Michigan / Rochester Minnesota. I’m sure he could fix it. No idea on cost. Check out

They repair pretty much anything like this. I have a ski my dog chewed the tip on that he said he could fix really easily. Just need to get around to getting it to him.

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I agree. I did that with an ultralight ONNO carbon “NuSurf” paddle. I cracked the blade half-way through when trying to “pole” and “crabwalk” my surf kayak off the gravelly beach. I did a FG/epoxy mend of the crack and had it going again. Then I did the same thing when the other blade cracked. Eventually, one of the patches failed but I got another year of use in.

Bottom line – the lightness of a carbon paddle is at the expense of toughness. The only exception I have for this is my heavy carbon fiber Big Spoon prototype WW paddle (BS went out of business). It’s heavier than other carbon fiber paddles but lighter than my FG paddles. I have had and enjoyed this paddle for almost 20 years. Except for small edge chips, the BS paddle is still going strong.


Yes, repairing it is good advice. I’ll take it to Ron Sell at Unadilla Boatworks since he’s done it before for me.

Unfortunately a repair will add weight and make the balance worse.

Sing - In my experience weight and toughness don’t always go together. The GRB is a 12.5 ounce paddle so somewhat of a medium weight and it failed on first serious rock hit. I have Zaveral paddles in the 9-10 ounce range that have taken many hard rock hits and Zaverals are known to just chip their blades, not fold them. Unfortunately there’s only one way to figure out how tough a particular brand is.

Thank you for the link

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whilst river
is draining
Rocky sayed
slicing blade
is all too rapidly

But then, a more “stable” Wilbur might sing:

A course can be coarse
climbing river source,
with rattle your paddle
from you’s divorced,
unless, of course, you paddle with Norse!
Forty ounces of stone crushing dread!

That’s what you’ll usually see Kaz slicing and dicing up those sopping Yankee boulder gardens with. Weight training, I suppose. Maybe he sheds weight on race days with carbon? Not sure. But, I have seen a friend do evil things to a lovely carbon-bladed Mitchell on some PA frothways. My Mitchell Leader heads for the bilges when the rocks start biting, especially now that Mitchell has called it quits. As did Norse, sadly. Usually I’ll bring out a Sawyer reworked alum-tipped wood whitewater model from the 80’s, or a Sawyer RangerX (case Spritle and Chim-Chim need reminding Speed’s not the only one in the race). But, for serious attainments (and often ensuing aggressive step-outs) nothing beats twelve feet of 1.125” diam. tower-grade aluminum tubing, with semi-pointy ends.


I quickly stow the pricey carbon and genteel wood Bending Branches paddles for the “nice” water stretches. My beater is a red plastic aluminum-tubed Walmart special for when things start to really rock. Think I paid a whopping seven bucks at the time years ago. Canoe livery standard issue, with no need to do any arm curls using dumbbells afterwards.


Sounds like you have some interesting paddles that you use CWDH.

Today I went with a Bending Branches with fiberglassed blade and epoxy tip and after just two attempts I concluded it’s a horsepower problem. I portaged since I was having a Low Energy Friday and still wanted to cover some miles. Which I did. In the rain.

Kinda funny but the sign directs kayakers to the other side of the island where the water is deeper…but a tree totally blocks that path.

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Yes when I travel through your state it seems like many of the rivers are rockier than mine and with sharper rocks and often super shallow water. If I tried to paddle upstream on the shallow side of that river in your pic it would take a seriously durable paddle.

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Paddle it upstream when it’s shallow???

Oh no, no,no–That’s what poles are for!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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It definitely pays to have a tough aluminum beater for poking around rocks. Used paddles should be popping up on CL or FBM about now. Or you can splurge on a new one. Cabela’s had one the other day for about $25. Mine is from Cannon and I think it cost $29 pre-pandemic … top o’ the line don’t ya know! They’re probably a few bucks more now.
Sorry @spiritboat, $7 bargains at Walmart are no more.

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Life is not over for that paddle, it’s easily repaired and with the extra reinforcement, you will now have a paddle for just those conditions. Most of my favorites have repairs including some with damage just like yours

The “hope” with postings like these is that it allows others to make choices with some real world data. Otherwise, we are left with just “taking a crack” at it. :wink:


In fairness I don’t have enough information to draw any conclusions about the durability of different brands. This failure was unusual in that only the foam core and front face of blade folded while the power face didn’t crease all the way through. And I don’t think it was a normal edge hit, I think you can see a mark where the blade took a hard hit a couple of inches up so maybe a Zaveral would have folded under those conditions too.

You’re not alone. I “broke” into the same club today. (Note portside blade, carbon Aquabound)…