15 May 2012

VIDEO: tropical island paddling

The plan for cruise paddling in calm waters was not going to happen and only the bay where we camped was actually sheltered. Despite the wind, the weather was warm and late afternoon paddles were a delight.

select 720P if you have fast Internet connection

Poking our heads around the corner revealed a much bigger sea than what I usually paddle in and certainly a novelty for my Swedish friend Johan.
It seems that the traditional paddles were not ideal for rockgardening, lacking the raw power a large short bladed Euro style can offer, but it was a godsend in the head wind.
This trip was not structured around a rigid plan where miles had to be paddled to reach our destination; the destination was already reached and only playtime was our schedule.
We took time to smell the roses, or shall I say the seaweed, followed sea eagles soaring and took time to watch the sunset; we were in no rush.

Thanks to Cesare Ferrero for the video editing critique.



  1. Well done! ;-)
    Cesare IKDMChannel

  2. You have probably a better average temperature than we have here :) degrees is around 4 to 7 March, April and even May that use to be a beautiful month here in Norway. It has not been as bad weather in May in many years!

    As always...great padling and a fantastic kayaking film. And it looks like you have nice temperatures. Not so much clothing that we are here :)) But you've probably still summer time :)

    Take care :)

    1. Jill, you might as well live in Greenland; I think it's warmer there :-)
      Just to rub it in: current water temperature is 22C and air temp as high has 26C during the day. Certainly T-Shirt weather.
      Even in the middle of winter (July-August) local waters don’t go below 17C. As I said: I will be happy to host you if you come and visit. I have a few spare kayaks.

  3. In this year I am going to invest in a new vein. Long-distance paddle. Do you have ideas on what might be good for me?


    1. Jill, it is hard to suggest exactly what you should use and of course I am bias towards Greenland paddles.
      I will email you privately to ask you a few questions.

  4. Your comment on rock gardening paddle choice is interesting - did you really feel that the GP didn't perform and if so, can you elaborate?

    1. I always thought that traditional paddles don’t have the raw power of short bladed Euro paddles.
      I feel that the elongated surface of a GP might not serve as well as a large blade Euro in places where instant acceleration is needed.
      I had to modify my technique in the surf to compensate for that and now I anticipate the waves and start paddling sooner to bring the hull to speed.
      In a rock garden situation, like with a bow rudder, the short concentrated surface of a Euro blade would give me more instant purchase for directional changes.
      Examples of Johan at 0:40 and 0:56

  5. Nice shots from the coast! At this rate we will have a "this is the gnarly" to complement "this is the sea" movie :-)

  6. Guys, you are too flattering.
    My vids are not scripted nor planned; they are just on-the-fly footage as it happens therefore only mediocre.
    The series TITS are done by a team of professional cinematographers with serious post production capabilities and skills.
    I am far from being in the same league, however I thank you for your compliments

  7. Nice one Gnarly, and I agree with you on the turning power in a bow rudder. I also find that the GP is less aggressive than the Euro in these cases. On the other hand the Aleut paddle is a bit better and also has better acceleration power than the GP,its good for surfing too.

  8. Great video Gnarly, I think this is the real spirit of sea kayaking: paddle, see, enjoy... and not necessarily in rough conditions!

    Regarding the greenland paddle I found my optimum with a paddle which is 235 cm BUT ... 10 cm wide. I know this is out of normal design but I have to say I still enjoy the relaxed paddling for long distance, almost no difference with wind (not affected) but a lot of purchase if required (surf etc.).

    What is your opinion?


    1. Alessandro, in my quiver I have several paddles, Greenland and Aleut. (5 carbon Northern Light, 1 carbon GP Greg Schwarz, 1 WRC GP Elver, and 3 WRC Aleut Vanstix)
      The GPs are around 220cm by 8.7cm wide while the Aleuts are longer (230+) and wider (9.5).
      I notice a difference in initial power with the Aleut certainly giving me more acceleration. Surprisingly I don’t cruise any faster with the more powerful Aleut. I guess one can only paddle as fast as the kayak will allow him/her (hull speed). I am yet to test and see if a broom stick (si`, manico di scopa!) could bring me to cruising speed 
      I notice that the longer and wider Aleut when used for a bow rudder seems to give me more grab: it must be the larger surface is noticeable in performing directional changes.
      The beauty of traditional paddles is that since the blade is so elongated I find that I have more modulation of power. If I paddle low angle I can insert only portion of the blade in the water and cruise with little effort.
      When surfing I tend to go more high angle and insert the full surface of the blade in the water to gain more power.
      While the surface of the blades is bigger on the Aleut I don’t find being effected by the wind more than the GP; something I can’t say for short and wide blades of the Euro paddles.

  9. Gnarly - certainly a good video , as all your tips , videos are . Could you let me know where this location is please - john

    1. it's a group of islands on the tropical East coast of Australia, unfortunately getting busier every year. For more details email me.

  10. Great vid Gnarly. Your point on paddle choice for rock gardens is interesting. I love GPs for rock gardening, but I found that as I got closer and closer to the rocks themselves, the depth required for the GP became a problem. My favourite rock gardening sticks are scratched and chipped and a few times have been almost ripped from my hands. I've since decided that the optimum paddle for in-close rock gardening is actually a short unfeathered white water paddle - around 196cm in my case. The large blades only need a little water to get a purchase (even in froth), so depth is less of an issue. The shorter length makes it quick to jump from stroke to brace on either side, and the plastic blades are tough as nails. Of course, I'd hate to paddle any distance with one & would definitely want a GP to swap out for the transit and up-wind sections!

    1. FatPaddler, I don't have a lot of rock gardens in my hood but plenty of sandy beaches. If I paddled more serious stuff (rocky coast) I would look into trying to grab a fat paddle (Euro) again (I still have a few Werners gathering dust) but for now I am like Greece: I'm done with the Euro :-)


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