Sunday, July 10, 2016

Split Up

Back in May, the mighty stick succumbed to years of hard use. It had been a long time coming. I had noticed the little stress cracks last season. Magic thinking can only work for so long. A poorly executed roll attempt put too much stress on the weakest point of the paddle and left me wet.
My first thought was to just order a new mighty paddle from Wolfgang Brink. Then I thought maybe I should research carbon fiber Aleutian paddles. There are a few manufacturers who make CF Greenland paddles and a two piece would be nice. As it turns out there is one company that manufactures CF Aleutian paddles. They get decent reviews, but they are very expensive. Also they were not taking orders because they needed to catch up on back orders.
So I went back to my first thought. It turns out in the eight years since I bought my last paddle, Wolfgang has added split paddles to his offerings. They are a little more expensive than the one piece, but the up charge is reasonable. I was pretty sure that the damage to the mighty stick was a result of transport stress since I don't tend to smash my sticks into rocks. The extra money was worth it.
It took a few weeks for my paddle to be finished, but that is pretty reasonable for a custom handmade paddle. It actually arrived on a day when I was paddling. When I got home, I was greeted with a sturdy wooden box.
The paddle, as I expected, was lovely. The blades are laminated wood with a nice groove down the ridge. The loom is carbon fiber with a standard button ferrule. Wolfgang said that he makes the ferrules a little tight and getting the paddle together was a little hard. That actually add some confidence. Once together, the paddle is rock solid. It slides apart with a nice pop.
Today was my first chance to try the paddle out.
I had thought about going down to RI for paddle out of Fort Wetherill, but that didn't happen. The forecast was sketchy and my shoulder was not feeling great. Then last night I couldn't fall asleep and when I finally woke up it was too late to make to the put in on time.
All was not lost. I live ten minutes from Walden Pond. An hour piddling around the pond wouldn't be as nice as a paddling on the Bay, but it was better than nothing.... Truth be told, piddling around the pond was perfect. I forgot how relaxing it can be just practicing strokes and getting a better sense of how the kayak feels in the water. It feels good being able to try subtle adjustments and dial things in. It is not something you can really do on the Bay in a big group.
The paddle performed as expected. It's finish is a little smoother than the original mighty stick, but is more grippy than my back up stick. I never once noticed any wiggle in the loom. I was very happy with it. The best part of the paddle is that it fits in the back of the car just like my Euro paddles.
So good new split Aleutian paddles and good day piddling around a pond.

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