The Aleut Paddle
At first glance, Aleut paddles seem (to our modern senses) to be mere sticks, incapable of propelling a kayak through the water, however the sophistication and advantages of the design rapidly becomes apparent with use. The long thin blade serves a dual purpose: by distributing the surface area along the length of the paddle instead of away from the shaft axis as in conventional paddles, Aleut paddles require a much lower angle of entry into the water.
This allows the paddler to use a longer lower stroke, requiring much less movement of the wrists, elbows and shoulders. Not only does this conserve energy, it also reduces wear on the joints over the course of several thousand strokes. The second advantage of the long thin blade is that it presents a much smaller profile to the air, making feathering the paddle unnecessary. This in turn reduces the strain on the wrist joint that is inflicted by a feathered stroke.
Unlike traditional Greenland style paddles, Aleut paddles are asymmetrical, with a concave power face and convex back face. The increased grip of the paddle on the water more than justifies the additional work and the resulting difference in resistance allows the paddler to choose between two "gears", depending on the water conditions.
Aleut Paddle Workshops
Imagine the feeling of paddling your kayak with a paddle that fits you perfectly. Now imagine that you made that paddle. These workshops cover paddle construction starting with a laminated blank and ending with a hand carved paddle. In the process you'll get to experience several traditional hand tools such as planes, spoke shaves, and scorps and get to learn the fundamentals of how these tools work. The workshop can be completed in a day, with materials provided to complete the sanding and finish at home. Workshops are offered throughout the year and can be scheduled through appointment. With advance notice Greenland style paddles can also be constructed.
Suggested Tuition Donation: US$135.00 (includes materials)