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The lure of the graceful Greenland paddle?

“A self discussion of the alternate paddling mind”
by Curtis Gashlin

Over the years I have paddled using the Greenland paddle as my primary paddle, and though my spare was once another Greenland paddle, I eventually decided to carry a Euro for a change of pace when I felt like it. Over time I have come to appreciate the Euro blade, but for some reason I keep clinging to my Greenland paddle.

Is it simply a habit? I really don’t think so.

Has it become an identity I refuse to let go of?

Nah, it has to be something deeper, but I just can’t place it. It’s like this mysterious sensation I have while using the Greenland paddle that keeps tugging at me. I get rough with it, I maybe even mistreat it a little, and I dance with it. A LOT!

So what? I do all of the same things with a Euro except I dance with it much much less.

There were times when I decided I was switching back from the dark side and was going to paddle with my Euro primarily. Seems as soon as I say this, I see someone high brace sculling as if to just tickle the water's surface; or doing a very slow and elegant layback roll with the Greenland. I get a feeling that I somehow betrayed my Greenland paddle. I immediately have a need to go and dance with my kayak, slowly and gracefully rolling around, combining various rolls into some sort of ballet until I am once again convinced that I need to use my Greenland paddle only. It is the oddest thing and too hard to fight, so why bother? My Euro is with me for the ride but I sometimes feel that it is taking up the space where my other Greenland paddle should be.

There are many more important things in life, I know, but ya can’t always fight the feeling. I have prided myself in the rolls that many others have taught me and feel blessed that I can still do them and combine them into a gracious dance. I’m fairly certain that some of my peers see me as someone they can get good rolling tips from. That makes me happy when they ask, and I feel special when I get to answer.

I am a total paddle whore and have more expensive Euro paddles than I like to use. I have maybe 8 or 10 Greenland paddles, some carbon, others wood, and have used every one. Do I really like Euro paddles? Oh yes I do. I also really like Greenland paddles. So I can only think that there is a special gracefulness that I find only when using a Greenland paddle. I’m certain many others may have felt this way. Sometimes I feel like I am driving myself crazy just thinking about something like this.

It has been said to me that “a paddle is a paddle, it’s not religion.” Ok, it’s not religion, but to some, there is a specialness that is coming from the Greenland paddle that may feel like it to them. I can’t say it’s the paddle or the special gracefulness available with this paddle. I feel the gracefulness in a Euro as well, but in paddle strokes and maneuvers only. The grand ballet is what happens with all the other motions that blend me, my kayak, and the water as if the three are just one, dancing above & below the water’s surface, and I only feel it with the Greenland paddle.

Maybe the Greenland paddle should just be my paddle for rolling when I feel like doing the ballet? Maybe it should, I don’t know anymore, which takes me right back to why I use one and carry the other. Someone told me that this conjures up an image of a prince, dating 2 princesses and hoping not to be caught. Well, I guess if both are princesses, I can’t go wrong. Isn’t this such an odd discussion I have going in my mind? I think I’ll leave this as it is right here and simply enjoy my princesses and stop spending so much time with comparisons. Use both for what they each do best and hope I don’t get caught.

Curtis Gashlin

About The Author

ACA Instructor & BCU 3 Star Certified kayaker, Curt Gashlin is an enthusiastic member of the Mosquito Lagoon Paddlers based in East Central Florida as well as the Orlando chapter of the Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers . He's been kayaking since 2002.

Related Articles by Curtis Gashlin:

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