Speedboats on the lake disturb my reverie, but they're not nearly so bad as a cell phone that rings all the time.
Charlotte's not got the best selection of water for paddling---especially not in drought conditions---but we've been making the best of it, rather than whine about what we haven't got.
Moving to an apartment put a light cramp in my paddling plans: canoe storage space is just not a standard feature in apartments in Charlotte. But a friend generously agreed to store the canoe for a few months, so we didn't have to sell it. I'm driving around with a canoe on top of my truck right now, I want to try and get a few hours on the water before taking my canoe back to storage.
Anyhow, paddling always gets me fired up about paddling.
Last year I decided to carve myself a decent paddle, which has not gone very well. I haven't actually ruined my paddle yet, but progress is slow; and realistically, it'll be even slower now that I've not got a workshop, have gotten rid of almost all my tools, and don't have a dedicated space to work in.
The joys of urban living.
So until my home-made paddle is finished (i.e. for the foreseeable future), I've decided I'm going to buy a decent paddle. Or even better, I'm going to try and figure out a way to have someone else buy it for me.
Random thought: my birthday is next month.
So I've been more and more playing with the "Indian Stroke" when paddling, and I really like it. But I want to get a narrower blade to work with. The standard el cheapo paddles I've seen in the various outdoor stores have really wide blades. Worse, they don't offer higher-end paddles with narrow blades. If you want a cheap paddle, the blade is wide; if you want a more expensive paddle, you either get a bent shaft or some fancy composite construction, and the blade's still wide: there isn't the option of a narrow blade. It seems blade shape is not a configurable option in the various outdoor stores I've checked.
Now to be fair, this is North Carolina. Here "paddling" almost exclusively means "kayak." This is not exactly canoe country. There is much wider selection of kayak paddles than canoe paddles.
But I've spent some time looking online, and I've found a couple contenders for my new paddle. Here are a few I'd really like to try out, not in any real order:
- Algonquin Guide by Turtle Paddle Works. It has a narrow blade (5.75") and a "Northwoods" grip. It's also got leather whipping for padding if you lever the paddle against the gunwale of the canoe, which I do frequently.
- Ottertail, also by Turtle. This has a smaller blade than their "Guide", and a more traditional grip. It also costs quite a bit less.
- Porter's Woodworking has a nice looking Ottertail, but I can't get a good look at it on the site, so I'm not sure it makes it to the finals, although it could be something really special. Still, the blade's a little wider than the 5" I'm looking for. Maybe I'll class this one a semi-finalist.
- Racine by Shaw and Tenny. This paddle looks really very cool. It's a little cheaper than the Guide by Turtle, and it's got the shape I want: 5" blade and all.
I've seen a few other offerings, but these appear to be the closest to what I want. And best of all, they're all made by small shops. And here's where it gets cool: those paddles all cost less than $150. That doesn't sound impressive, except I was looking at paddles this weekend in the outdoor stores, and they go up to $290. $150 for a traditional canoe paddle is much less than I expected.
I'm leaning toward the Guide by Turtle as my #1 choice, and the Racine by Shaw and Tenny as my #2. Sadly, Turtle won't ship to the USA, so I may have to find a retailer (like Rutabaga) if I go with the Guide. Both of those shops are the sort of thing I like to support: small artisan businesses.