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I am relatively new to the way of paddling a canoe. Most of what I paddle is kayak. But, my son being in that awkward stage where he can't quite paddle his own kayak, but way to big to double up in my kayak, I bought a canoe recently and am looking for the right way to size me up for a new paddle. The paddles that came with the canoe were 48", and it only took one time out in wind to let me know those are too short.

But paddles come in all kinds of lengths, so what is a guy like me to do?

I am 6'4" and about 190 lbs. My boat is about 17 feet long, not sure how wide.

Thanks for the input,

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Replies to This Discussion

James: simply stated, you want your hands at the perfect grip distance on your paddle, and when your shaft hand is along the gunwale at your side, the blade is completely immersed in water. On land an easy "guestimate" is to rest the grip on the ground and the blade should come up to the middle of your face. There are many other ways of estimating. I am 5'8" and use a 60" paddle for touring. I will use a shorter length for whitewater and freestyle. It is also recommended that when you start out to err on the "long" side to insure you immerse your blade in the water.
I have not found any commercial outlets in Southern Cal that stock decent paddles. You may have to order on-line to get the right sized paddle.
And don't get me started on blade shapes .....
Please let me know if you have any further comments - it is very rare to find any canoeists in this part of the country.
- Teresa in Chula Vista
Thanks a lot. I heard one tip that I should squat with my butt about 6" off the ground and then measure from the floor to my nose (!). You can imagine how much fun that was. It then said to add that measurement to the length of the blade and the total is the length of the paddle I want. With those measurements, it seemed like a 63" paddle would be the one for me with the paddles I was looking at. That just seems huge.

I have been paddling for years, so I am fully aware of the importance of full blade submersion, just not familiar with sizing canoe paddles. Still sort of sounds like you are saying that the best way is to test each paddle out first. Luckily, there are a couple of places that will order paddles to let me test them before I commit to buying.

Do you know anything about Sawyer paddles out of Rogue, OR? I have been looking at those. Also, what's the deal with the bent shaft? I am a traditionalist at heart. Is this a necessary thing? What purpose does it serve?

James: something in the 63 - 64" range should work for your height, but shorter may be okay if you have long arms. It is hard to find paddles longer than 60" unless they are customized.
I do have a Sawyer paddle, direct e-mail contact at their company (if still good) is:
Jon "Shaggy" McLaughlin [shaggy@paddlesandoars.com]
They will customize, too, good in quality but are slow in production.
I also use a Werner - very good paddles. But they have reduced their offering to one spoon shaped blade (spoon best for whitewater - for flat I avoid the spoons). Bell canoe makes a couple of great straight shaft paddles:
Bent shafts in canoeing are used for "racing" in most cases (look at the dragon boats and outrigger canoes - they are using bent shafts). These are designed specifically for fast turn over and efficient forward strokes, and you use a much shorter length than in touring.
For all round paddling in flat water conditions, a straight shaft and blade is what I prefer.
In kayaking I stay away from crank shafts, spooning, and too much feathering of the blades because it does seem to interfere with precise blade control. (Exception is wing paddle + surfski.) I have the same opinion of canoe paddles - simpler is better for all round control.
Hope this helps - teresa
Great BETA! Thanks a bunch. Your input will definitely help in my search. Should be getting my cheap-o 54" tomorrow; will take that out and have a go at it. Cause I do have long arms...





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