|The three paddles I tried today, as the dark weather rolls in.|
First I used my favorite Euro blade double paddle - the carbon fiber Epic Active Touring paddle. It's the paddle I've used for most of my miles in a kayak, and I'm so happy that Epic Kayaks gave me one to use for the expedition. It's light weight, large surface area, and quiet. A dream to paddle!
My biggest fear about the expedition is repetitive stress injuries. So I'm taking the advice of a friend and also using a Greenland paddle. It uses a slightly different set of muscles. Talon Woodwork carved a lovely two piece paddle for me, built to my specifications. It's just the right size for my hands and shoulders, and is longer than most Greenland paddles. That extra length was my idea based on the kayak. Today was the first time to try the paddle. The length works great. Oh my, it too also a wonderful paddle! It has a little spring to it that makes it feel alive in the water, while at the same time being so smooth. Thank you Talon Woodworks for donating this paddle for the expedition.
I recently read an old article by George Dyson (the kayaking, historian son of the physicist Freemon Dyson) from the Winter 1986 issue of Sea Kayaker: "Single Paddles: The change that's as good as a rest." (Since they've stopped publishing Sea Kayaker I have to resort to reading old issues.) George's idea is to use a single blade paddle in a kayak, and there is historical evidence that single blades were used in traditional kayaks centuries ago. So I pulled out my old Barton carbon fibre bent shaft racing canoe paddle. Since I kneel when I use that in a canoe, I wasn't too sure it would work. But the combination of a rudder and a bent shaft was very sweet! In a canoe with a bent shaft, I do the "hit and switch", paddling on one side for a few strokes, but then switching to the other side for a few strokes so the boat doesn't travel in circles. With the rudder you can keep going on one side until you get tired, and then use the other side. It too felt so good to use.
So now I have three paddles to take on the expedition, with each providing a rest from the other two. Maybe I can reduce my injuries from constant paddling, if I rotate between the three.
And how fast are the paddles with this new kayak? First time on the water in the new kayak in Annapolis, I was trying hard not to go fast, as it was the first paddle of the season and I didn't want to strain myself. I didn't even use a racing stroke at all. Yet the GPS said I reached 4.9 mph. Today the GPS said I reached 6.5 mph (perhaps during my brief spurt of the racing stroke?), with a moving average speed of 5.4 mph over the two hour paddle. That's pretty fast for a wide touring kayak. In fact, it is unbelievably fast given that I was again trying to go at a slow "paddle all day long" pace. I think my Garmin must have blipped out on the location now and then, as it often does. Another case of don't fully trust the electronics!
|My ancient phone so dry in the new E-Case!|
I also tried out the waterproof E-Case for my cell phone today. That's how I took the picture of the three paddles on the deck of my kayak. It was so easy to use and worry free. I will enjoy using the E-Cases for all of my electronics on the expedition, thanks to a donation from E-Case. This is the case I'll be using on my larger "phablet". This was the first time I've used my cell phone on the water. What a convenience to know my electronics will stay dry and usable right there on the deck of my kayak!