Why is my new Bending Branches Arrow paddle peeling?

I purchased the Bending Branches Arrow paddle 2 weeks ago. After a week of daily use the polyurethane has rubbed off around the handle and the neck and the wood has begun peeling off in the area where the neck of the paddle hits the gunnel of my canoe for a jay or canadian stroke. I have a few hypothesis for why this is happening and I’d love to know what people think could be most likely.

  1. The paddle is cheaply made and cannot withstand heavy use
  2. The paddle is brushing against the gunnel in areas where the gunnel is a bit rough from clamping metal fishing rod holders
  3. The paddle is defective
  4. I am utilizing the gunnel too much in my stroke corrections

I would also love to hear what folks think would be a good solution. Perhaps:
A. Buy a better paddle
B. Sand and reapply Polyurethane
C. Duct tape the gunnel to avoid scraping the rougher areas
D. Duct tape (or grip tape) the paddle where it meets the gunnel
E. Learn how to paddle properly

Google Photos

Google Photos

If the image appears overly cropped, try to click on it. That works on my end…

Your paddle should NOT be having contact with the gunnel with either the Canadian or the J. Sounds like you are prying as you stroke. Going to ruin any paddle with that method. GET OFF THE GUNNEL.

1 Like

Choose option E. That paddle has clearly been scraped against a hard surface (your gunnel) which is something that should not happen if you’re using it correctly.

Not only that, keep it off the gunwale.

OK we all have paddling flaws. But five coats of poly are needed. Factory paddles are famed for one dip and done. It is not enough.
First coat poly thinned second less thinned on and up to full strength. Sand between coats with increasingly fine sandpaper.
Yes five.

Thank you all! I’m excited to begin improving my technique now that I know that I have been getting it wrong. I plan to start practice today and when I get it down I will repair the paddle and add 5 coats of poly

In addition to technique, check your paddle length. For the main part of any normal paddle stroke you should not be hitting the gunnel and the whole length of the blade should be in the water, no more and no less.

Hi, clarosee, I’d also smooth out the rough spots along the gunwales. Even with experience and great technique you’ll occasionally rub the gunwale and if there’s a rough spot it can ding a paddle shaft under load.


Were you by chance wearing DEET insect repellent?