Paddle softly, and carry a light stick.

After Saturday’s paddling with Rob, he decided to buy the Tampico XL. Tonight was his night to pick it up, so we agreed to meet at Baycreek and break the new boat in.

When I got there, he was getting fitted out with paddle and PFD. He got a really nice PFD – one of the triangular ones that give you lots of room around the shoulders. Much nicer than mine. He also had a very light paddle with a carbon fibre shaft and composite blades. Extremely light, with a blade shaped for high angle paddling (which is my style). I figured it was about a $250 paddle. He said it was used, and he was getting it for $80! I was jealous as hell, especially since there was no visible sign of it being used. But the guy behind the counter corrected him – he said it was $80 off, and so it was $160. Rob recoiled visibly, and started to put it back on the rack. I quickly grabbed it for myself.

I took my old paddle and broke it down and slipped it under the straps on the back of the kayak, and went out for a spin with the new one. The more agressive blade shape meant that every pull rocketed me forward far more than the old paddle. And the lighter weight meant that I could paddle harder for longer.

Rob and I paddled for about two hours, up almost to Browncoft and back. His kayak seems as good as the Merlin he tried on Saturday when it comes to ease of paddling, but maybe with a bit more initial stability. It also seemed like it might be a bit easier to turn, without a pronounced keel line and a bit more rocker. He seemed very happy with it, and I think it’s a good choice for him.

I was very very happy with my new paddle, too. At the end of the hours, it still felt light in my hands, and two quick strokes would get me up to a breaking wake on the bow. I had lots of energy at the end.