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  • Radford Bean

Experimenting with Paddles

So I set out Saturday with a group of kayakers and one other canoe on the Tualatin Riverkeepers' Fall Colors Paddle. The trip was the first opportunity I had to try out the new bent blade paddle I had recently purchased. I felt the paddle helped increase my speed somewhat and is more efficient during strokes, though I got the feeling it did negatively impact my ability to keep my canoe on a straight track when using the J stroke, but only slightly. Perhaps that's simply due to inexperience paddling with a bent blade paddle.

A fellow paddler on the trip loaned me his kayak paddle to try. I am here to tell you that if you paddle a canoe solo and aren't afraid of getting the odd stares from other canoeists, paddling a canoe with a kayak paddle can be a real treat. My friend reported that he was amazed by how quick I took off and how fast my canoe moved using his kayak paddle.

The one drawback to paddling a canoe, at least a tandem canoe using a kayak paddle is you tend to wind up with a wet lap. The guards at each end of the kayak shaft did little to stop water from dripping on my lap. I don't remember having a similar issue when paddling a kayak, perhaps because my lap is more enclosed by the kayak deck. Although, I could see a similar issue if paddling a recreational kayak with its wide cockpit. Perhaps it was also a weakness in the guards, though my friend's kayak paddle is a fairly expensive Bending Branches paddle, and Bending Branches is known for making high quality canoe and kayak paddles.

The bottom line is that I might have to invest in a kayak paddle for use on trips where I will be paddling with kayakers and not canoeists. I'm not one who's worried about the odd stares I might receive from fellow canoeists. Whatever allows me to keep up with the kayakers I paddle with works for me. I will use my new bent blade paddle for all other times I paddle, because I do believe it is more efficient than a straight blade paddle.

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