KayakVagabond

the website of Greg Stamer

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.

New Q&A Page

Posted by Greg on January 21, 2012

In case that “Google” or “Ask Jeeves” isn’t sufficient to answer your kayak question, next time try “Ask Greg”! ;)

You can find my new Ask Greg page among the options at the top of the screen. Please keep it in mind the next time you have a question or want to browse.

I look forward to helping you with any kayaking questions you might have.

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.

K1 First Impressions…

Posted by Greg on January 11, 2012

 

I’m happy to report that my fragile male ego wasn’t bruised too badly, first time in a K1 :)   At least  I didn’t unintentionally swim but my bracing and sculling skills were heavily tested.  My girlfriend, Pauline Besson, did very well, and managed to stay upright, but did have a capsize or two. Most other friends who tried it went about fifteen feet, the boat flopped to its side, and into the drink they went.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

For the first few minutes Pauline stabilized the K1 while I simply got accustomed to the feel.  My first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding me”!  I was (over) confident that it would be a piece of cake, however the initial stability, or rather the lack of it, was much different to anything I have been in before, and that includes some very narrow V-hulled boats.

I knew the key was to relax,  but  my hip-flexors went into overdrive trying to balance. Nervous waves radiated quickly away from the kayak.  “Stop IT!”, I barked to myself and the quivering boat. After a few minutes I finally relaxed and could balance by using the buoyancy of the paddle and by gently sculling. I used a Greenland paddle for this due to its familiarity, buoyancy and ease of sculling and bracing.

There’s no such thing as a tippy boat…

Posted by Greg on January 6, 2012

 

… Only tippy paddlers.

 

At least that’s what I used to tell students …. before I tried a K1 sprint kayak.

So why a K1?  I’m working with computers again — great for cash flow and rebuilding bank accounts, but not so great for long trips and expeditions. However the silver lining is that there is plenty of time to train and complete in the local races, grow stronger, and learn some new skills. Also, my interest was piqued by what I have heard about these slender hulls.  Surf the web and you will discover comments such as “the K1 is the formula 1 of the kayaking world”,  “separates the men from the boys” , and “if you can paddle a K1 you can paddle anything!”.   While it’s best to treat what you read on the internet with healthy skepticism, that sounds like a challenge if I ever heard one!

I always find it rewarding to branch out into other aspects  of the diverse world of kayak-sport. Being a “beginner” again in a new discipline is humbling, keeps you grounded and you experience the thrill of rapidly learning and improving. That’s great fun if you have been doing something for years or if you feel your skills have plateaued.

Resolutions….

Posted by Greg on January 4, 2012

One of my nagging New Year’s resolutions was to post more often. I’m usually on to the next project/trip without wanting to write about the previous one…

I’m in the process of updating this blog to a new version of WordPress.

During this time the site may be down or incomplete. Please check back soon.

Best,

Greg Stamer

Hot Stuff…

Posted by Greg on June 27, 2010

“Actually, this is just a place for my stuff … That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff … Everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s your stuff. That’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life is a little place for your stuff.” — George Carlin

My A/C has been out for weeks and it doesn’t cool down much at night in the Florida mid-summer. I have been testing myself to see how long I can keep at this game (and the energy savings have been huge). Temps inside my house have been creeping steadily upward and currently the house is a toasty 87F (30.55 C) and it’s midnight. Funny thing is, I’m heat-adapted and perfectly fine sleeping with just a pair of box fans to keep the air moving. However, the heat and humidity is finally taking a toll. My tents, jackets, and other expensive gear have started to delaminate and fail due to heat and humidity, so I’m off to get a new A/C compressor fan motor tomorrow.

Atlantic Canada — Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Symposiums

Posted by Greg on June 1, 2010

 Linda Bartlett in new kayak at Terra Nova

Partner Linda Bartlett tries out her spanking new Impex Force 3 in Newfoundland’s Terra Nova National Park

I just returned from a whirlwind trip — teaching and speaking at the Atlantic Canadian Paddling Symposium in Nova Scotia before rushing off to Newfoundland to teach at the annual Kayak Labrador and Newfoundland (KNL) symposium.  This isn’t as crazy as it sounds — next year the Atlantic Canadian Symposium will be held in Newfoundland (in lieu of the KNL event).

I should be accustomed to it by now, but it still feels silly to pack a suitcase full of winter clothes and gear, including a drysuit, and heavy wool insulation, when the mercury outside my Florida home is topping at a sweltering 90 degrees (32 C).  I first experienced this disparity in 2000 when I traveled in summer to Greenland to compete in the 2000 championship. Flying from Baffin to Greenland I was shocked into reality as I gazed at the brilliant ice pans below that glistened in the sun. A chill went through me. “You’re not in Kansas any more”.  Now, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia aren’t as cold as Greenland, but it did snow briefly in Newfoundland when I arrived!

2010 Southwest Kayak Symposium – San Diego

Posted by Greg on April 3, 2010

olym20100326_55.jpg
Enjoying a gentle swell at La Jolla.

Jen Kleck of Aqua Adventures must have pulled a few strings with the weather Gods. Even coming from sunny Florida I could not help but to be mightily impressed with the warm, Mediterranean-like weather in San Diego. The eighth Annual Southwest Kayak Symposium, held on Mission Bay, took place in glorious Spring conditions, with brilliant greenery, crystal blue skies and palm trees swaying in the warm sun.

As a Floridian, the conditions felt familiar, but distinctly different. The expected humidity was absent and the rolling panorama of hills, the Pacific swell, the cacophony of seals and sea lions on the rocks at La Jolla, made for a very memorable event.

The Southwest Kayak Symposium is held at “CampLand on the Bay”, a funky RV campground on Mission Bay. It’s an RV camp on steroids and is a microcosm of American/California culture.  Lurking amid the lush vegetation are mammoth RVs with sides that pop-out to house-sized proportions, grocery stores, hot tubs, golf-carts and other conveniences. The venue (complete with chatty parrots overhead that attempt to drown out conversations), is a great place for a symposium, with large open areas of lawn and easy water access. Mission Bay offers beginners a safe place to whet (wet?) their appetite, while nearby La Jolla (the Jewel) offers more challenging conditions with Pacific surf and sea caves.