Man Thought of His Kayak
Irene Avaalaaqjaq 1976 *

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David W. Zimmerly

* This belongs to the collection of David & Helga Zimmerly.

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Lew Plummer's Reproduction
Aleut Kayak Paddle FNM #228
Finland National Museum, Helsinki

(click on figures to enlarge)

Finished paddle.

Lew Plummer:
"There are several interesting features associated with this paddle.  The red ochre artwork could be a gauge.  Stroke power seems most efficient when the blade entry angle coincides with the “X” angle marked on the blade.  The “X” also, marks the best point to apply stroke power. Hitting the mark seems to be the rule no matter who uses the Helsinki grooved paddle. 

More of the blade is added as a person follows through the stroke.  At the end of the stroke the entire blade is buried.  Because of this I tend to rotate my body trunk later in the stroke; basically finishing the stroke with some “snap.”  It is a most comfortable cruising blade and not too bad for racing.

Generally novices don’t immediately like the paddle because the short loom requires a confident stroke with good rotation.  Most novices don’t bury the blade.  Good paddlers who use trunk rotation and bury the blade at the end of the stroke usually like it.   

The original Helsinki paddle was made of Western Red Cedar. My red cedar reproductions usually weigh about 24 to 26oz about the same as a good carbon fiber paddle.  I think the original weights about the same if not less (original is shorter). 

I used my lightweight paddle for two seasons before a fall from my truck at 40mph caused an early retirement. All the others are in their 4th or 5th season.   If the blades get a little fuzzy I just sand to reshape the edges, tip and then refinish.  I use spray paint for the black areas, leaving the loom and, if the wood is really red, the artwork natural.  I seal the wood and the painted areas with a couple of coats of boiled linseed oil. 

Some neoprene gloves can really wear the loom surface at the grip area if the wood is left natural.  If you use neoprene gloves and paddle often then it would be best if the loom area were protected with a good varnish or varathane.

The Red Cedar blades are, in some respects, more robust than carbon fiber paddles and they are easier to repair.  I have split the blades on occasion but Gorilla waterproof foaming urethane glue makes them good again.

Kayak entry and exit is about the only practice that really harms a Cedar paddle. This practice tends to crush the soft Cedar usually at the point of highest stress where the loom and blade meet.  I have gotten in the habit of using my old spare Sitka Spruce paddle for kayak entry and exit and save the lightweight blade for paddling."


 Power face view, front of blade.

Shoulder of blade.

The back of the paddle.

Lew Plummer using an Aleut paddle in "Raven" during the 2000 Ski to Sea race. Raven weighs in at 24 pounds.
Last modified: 16 Oct 2010     - Visitors since 4 March  2000: Hit Counter



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