KayakVagabond

the website of Greg Stamer

Archive for the ‘Ask Greg; Answered Questions’ Category

Greenland Kayak and Weathercocking

Posted by Greg on April 22, 2012

Q: Hi Greg,
I use both Greenland style kayak (hard chine,low deck, low volume) and Brit style kayak (round chine, generous freeboard). What I get frustrated about Greenland style boat is that it is really hard to keep it tracking straight in a [rear quartering]  sea. I have no problem with my Brit boat even without using skeg (yet), but with my Greenland style boat, I have to really work on corrective strokes and it slows me down. Is it just the nature of this kind of kayak? Or is there any technique that I can use to make it easier? I don’t see any article about Greenland style technique regarding to that subject (boat handling in wind) except extended strokes. It is hard for me to think they (the Greenlanders) did not have that kind of technique to pass on when they had to use the kayak which is very very sensitive to what the water does to it. So far I am learning to adapt Brits technique to use with Greenland style gears just because I can’t find anything from “Greenland side”. Thanks! Setsuko

A: Hello Setsuko,

ONNO Foot Bar for NDK Greenlander Pro

Posted by Greg on February 23, 2012

Q: Can I mount an ONNO foot bar in my NDK Greenlander pro?
Is there enough room for the knees to bring my feet into a centered position?– J P Meyenberg

A: JP, I have an ONNO carbon foot bar (foot plate) mounted in my NDK Greenlander Pro and love it.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, the ONNO foot bar is a very lightweight, wide carbon plate that mounts to your existing Yakima pedals (stock installation is with screws).  The hardware is provided to modify your current Yakima aluminum rails so that they are parallel so that the solid foot plate can be adjusted fore/aft without binding.

I have size 10 feet and have just enough room to bring feet and knees to a centered position in the keyhole cockpit.  There isn’t a lot of clearance,  my knees can fit only when they are very close together, about an inch apart. For more clearance you could modify the thigh hooks (grind them away a bit).  In this centered, racing-style position, I can generate more torso-rotation than in the “splayed-out” position.

Photography around ice and water

Posted by Greg on February 19, 2012

Q: How hard is it to paddle around with a camera in the cold? I’d love to do a shoot somewhere with the ice and water. Some of your pictures are amazing.  — Donna.

A: Donna, Thanks for the complement. All of the kayaking images that I have taken in the last few years have been with the new breed of “waterproof/shockproof” point and shoot digital cameras.  These cameras don’t offer quite the image sharpness and features of more “professional” cameras, but their strength is that you can grab them in an instant and capture images that would go missed with a much bulkier camera  or a camera that must be retrieved from a dry box.  Most of the images for my Sea Kayaker magazine articles were taken with a waterproof digital, so very good results are possible.

I have used the Olympus Stylus series (e.g. Stylus 1030 SW) extensively, but lately I have been using a new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3.  Both are great cameras.  The Olympus has a sliding closure that covers the lens after you turn off the camera. I have a love-hate relationship with this feature. Usually it works great, and keeps the lens clean and dry, however if you do manage to get water behind it, it continues to smear water on the lens every-time you turn on the camera, even if you dry the lens.

Greenland paddle / Wing paddle

Posted by Greg on February 12, 2012

Q: You have stated that the Greenland Paddle (GP) can act as a wing when the GP is used in a high wing type stroke. Have you done a test in your fast kayak, GP vs wing to determine advantages of one or the other with respect to efficiency and/or speed in non racing situations, eg., outings from 5 to 15 miles?

I have acquired both a wing (Onno) and a GP (Novorca) in the last year and have been learning both. At 4.2 kts, my traveling speed, the GP feels more efficient, but I can go at least 0.2 kts faster with the wing.  Jerry

A: Jerry,  Although I realize that you said non-racing situations, let me use that as an example, first, as it helps to clarify the issue.

To generalize, a racer is often trying to maximize speed over distance usually with an extremely light, unladen kayak. A sea kayaker is often trying the maximize the number of “miles per Snickers bars”, often with a heavy or gear-laden kayak, day after day. These are related, but are very different things and need to be viewed separately.

Catch before Unwinding. How?

Posted by Greg on February 3, 2012

Q:  What would you suggest to someone who wants to unlearn unwinding before the catch and start to get good muscle memory for catch before unwinding.

Because the kayak is already moving I find myself unwinding – irresistibly! ;-(  before catch. Apart from visualizing spearing a salmon, do you have other advice, tips, tricks, dry/ wet exercises etc to catch before unwinding?

A: When I do video analysis of students a common error is unwinding before the catch, or in other words, starting to apply power before the paddle is completely buried. This is a common power leak.

If you are “pulling” before the paddle is planted, not only is your stroke shortened (giving you less time to generate power), but the catch is often poor too (drawing air into the water — ventilation, and creating turbulence and making noise — “plop!”).

How short is a “model” stroke? For a wing you should be starting your exit when the blade reaches your knees and the blade should exit when your hand reaches your hip.  Since the stroke is so short, you can’t afford to waste any of it. A Greenland paddle also exits when your hand is at your hip, but the blades are long, and will exit behind you.

Forward Stroke with Greenland Paddle?

Posted by Greg on January 27, 2012

Q:  I would like to get the most out of my forward stroke with a Greenland Paddle, but I have been told different things about how to use the GP. Most emphasize torso rotation. Some say it is better not worry too much about rotation, but instead to reach and lean slightly forward, insert the paddle, then pull and sit-up. Some say to take the paddle out at the waist, as with an Euro-paddle. Some say to pull the paddle all the way through the stroke. Is there a style best suited to the GP and a Greenland style boat that gives the most power for the effort?
– Tom in North Carolina

A: Tom, thanks for the question.

Before going into specific techniques, following are some general points to ponder. There is a lot of condensed information here, you may have to read this more than once.

  1. Move the boat through the water, not the paddle. This is a huge mental change for most paddlers. Think of your paddle as an anchor that you plant into solid ground and then lever your boat forward using strong legwork and body rotation. When done properly you should be able to feel your paddle “load-up” with tension – it feels somewhat like you are suspended from the paddle, like hanging from a bar.

Best Snapdragon Skirt for Florida Paddling/Rolling

Posted by Greg on January 24, 2012

Q: I want a Snapdragon skirt that will be good for Fla paddling and rolling. I want something to seal well. Which Snapdragon do you recommend? I paddle a Force 5 and a rm Chatham 17….Thanks.  Dave

A: Dave,  For full disclosure, I’m a Snapdragon team paddler but I bought Snapdragon before I was sponsored, they make a great product.

I have multiple skirts that I choose depending on my activity/conditions.  The most bombproof skirts are full neoprene, they are dry but also warm (not an advantage in the Florida heat).

If your priority is a solid seal (good for surf, rolling practice, rough water play, etc), then I recommend the Ocean Tour EXP Reinforced skirt;  this neoprene skirt is dry and tough enough for heavy surf zones. If I had to pick only one skirt, it would be this one. I used this skirt for paddling around Iceland where it withstood the nasty dumping waves of the South Coast without imploding. It works equally as well with the dumpers we have at Canaveral on the East coast.  If you don’t need the heavy-duty rim guard and other extreme durability features then the Ocean Trek is a good choice, it’s just as dry.

What’s the best length for a Greenland Paddle?

Posted by Greg on January 20, 2012

Q: I have read different things about how to find the best length for a Greenland paddle and some of the methods result in very different sizes. Is there a traditional method to find the exact paddle size. Thanks! — Confused in Portland

A: Hello “Confused”. Greenland paddle sizing is usually done using anthropometric measurements. This type of measurement takes into account body sizing, and can be done directly, without a tape measure.

For the measurements below, an “armspan” refers to the full reach of your outstretched arms, from the extended fingertips of one hand, to the other.

  • The most commonly-used method for touring is one armspan , plus a cubit (the distance from your elbow to your extended fingertips).
  • For competition rolling, and kayaking in very windy areas, you may want a slightly shorter paddle — a common length is an armspan plus the distance from your wrist to your fingertips. A shorter paddle is easier to maneuver both underwater and in a strong wind.
  • For a very short paddle used with a sliding stroke (often called a “storm paddle”), the length is short  -  one armspan, with the loom only two or three fists wide.