Greenland Paddle

Anybody knows me is aware that I am totally lacking in any practical skills. My belief is that it is important to keep the artisan in work. So it was much to everyone’s surprise and some people’s disbelief that I decided to make a Greenland paddle.
Embarking on this journey I was completely thrown into unknown waters. I had managed to reach the ripe old of 60 and had never bought any wood in my life. It was with some trepidation that I entered the the timber yard and casually ordered two pieces of red cedar, as if it was something I did almost every day. The reality is that I wouldn’t have recognised cedar if it had hit me in the face.
One of the advantages of making your own paddle is cost.  Wood for two paddles cost £20 whereas commercially produced paddles are generally in the region of £200 or slightly higher.  The only problem is that I didn’t have any tools at all to work with so buying the necessary items cost just over £200.  So I have to make a few paddles if there is to be any return on the investment.
If you decide to make your own Greenland paddle there is plenty support out there.  I have used the really useful film that Matt Johnson has put on YouTube. Use the film in conjunction with the PDF written by Chuck Holst and available for download from Qajaq USA.
It has been a fascinating journey so far and my progress has certainly surprised some members of my family.

Greenland Paddle
No power tools for me just a good old fashion saw. It was fascinating how the sawing improved as the afternoon wore on.  Once I started with the saw there was no turning back.  I will either have a Greenland paddle or some expensive firewood!
Greenland Paddle
Markings which indicate how the shaft will emerge.
Greenland paddle
Markings for the end of the blade. The rounded edges were produced using a dinner plate.
Greenland Paddle
Quite amazingly a paddle shape is starting to emerge. A hand plane will be used to smooth the edges.

Sea Kayaking Emergency bag

Virtually every time we go on the water we should carry some basic items of safety equipment.  Unfortunately, I am basically a disorganised person and finding small items of equipment from the chaos of the kayaking boxes was virtually an insurmountable problem.  So the solution was to put together a small emergency bag with all the essential items of kit.  It took about 3 months to source all of the things that I needed and it is true to stay that it still isn’t complete.  I still search diligently in yacht chandlers and outdoor shops for that elusive item of equipment, which may provide the final piece of the jigsaw.
The following items of equipment are contained within my waterproof bag:

 

Signal Mirror:  A small item, which could prove to be useful if you have an accident on a sunny day.  I found mine in a small French yacht chandlers.  It only cost 3.00 €, so it is worth the small financial outlay.
Spare Hatches: 
I carry the Reed hatch covers and have used them twice so they weren’t a waste of money.
Bungee Cords: 
Just one set and you never know when they will be needed.  Ideally for keeping some of the items in the bag wrapped up.
Multi-purpose Tool: 
There is the Leatherman and then there are cheaper ones.  For this emergency bag I have selected a cheaper one, as there is every chance that it will damaged by the seawater.  I paid 7€ for mine at a French DIY store.
Woollen Hat: 
I might swap this for a sun hat during the warmer summer months.
Plastic Sheet: 
Cut from a sparkling water bottle.  The thin plastic is ideal for helping to repair a relatively large hole in the kayak.
Repair Tape: 
Spinnaker tape, electrician’s tape and duck tape.  A selection, which should be able to sort out most needs, including repair kayaks, spray decks and tents.
Epoxy Resin: 
I use a French variety, partly for the challenge of translation, and partly because it is effective.  It will set under water and will repair most materials.
Whistle: 
I have the loudest one that I could find.  The literature makes numerous extravagant claims about decibels etc, all I know is that if I blow it my ears hurt!
Lighter: 
More like a blowtorch than a lighter.  An effective heat source and according to the publicity material it can’t be blown out by the wind.  Useful for a number of reasons.  Just in case the gas runs out I also have a box of waterproof matches.  (I also remove this from the bag before I fly anywhere)
Fire Lighters: 
Just a couple in case it is necessary to light a fire.
Poncho: 
A small poncho, which is ideal if people are cold at lunchtime.
Exposure Bag: 
I don’t have the traditional orange exposure bag but one, which is made of the same material as the well-known space blanket.  The advantage is that it packs up very small.
Spare Food: 
Just a small amount.  I don’t plan on getting stranded for several days in the heart of what is in effect an urban area.  I normally take food, which I am not that keen on so I am not tempted to eat it. 

Money:  Just a small amount, stored in the inevitable film container that is if you can still find one.  Useful for telephones, cafes etc.
Spare Batteries: 
These are for both the GPS and the VHF radio.  A selection of cheaper batteries is better than the more expensive variety; they only have to last a couple of hours.
Strobe:
  Ideal for drawing attention to yourself at night.
Wet Wipes:
  Ideal for all sorts of uses.
First Aid Kit: 
Just a few small items.  Triangular bandage, skin closures, assorted plasters, wound dressing and safety pins.
When I open up the waterproof waist pack it always amazes me that all of the above fits inside such a relatively small container.  What it has enabled me to do is to always carry a basic level of safety equipment.  It can be customized to meet individual needs and because I am always on the look out for another useful item it remains a work in progress.