|James and Chris - The Canoeguys|
I told Chris, yes I did. Fact is, I made custom canoe paddles long before I ever made Greenland kayak paddles.
Through Twitter, emails, txt messages and phone calls, I was able to get a grasp on just what kind of an Expedition, Chris and James where about to embark on, come May 24, 2011.
This was no journey for sissies, nor the faint of heart, this was not a short jaunt across a narrow lake, nor was it going to be a leisurely afternoon paddle. This was going to be the genuine thing.
These lads would be out in the REAL wilderness for 35 days or more, mapping the old Voyageur route from Jasper, Alberta to Forth Smith, Northwest, Territories. Approx. 1507km.
There would be no civilization for days on end. Bears, wolves, class 3 & 4 rapids and forest fires, with which to contend. Did we mention the bugs? Hoards and hoards of blood thirsty mosquitoes, etc. Hacking through brush a whole day, to only reach the beginning of a portage a kilometer away. To go through areas no man has gone, since the early Voyageurs themselves used these routes. Where having dependable equipment, could mean the difference between life or death. Equipment failure was not an option!
Having all this knowledge at my fingertips, I set out to design a modern day Voyageur paddle. I used straight grained hard maple for the paddle itself, and purple heart for the tip and a bit on the grip. Being of hardwoods, the paddles would be a bit heavier than the recreational paddles used today. Being perfectly balanced, compensated for the weight difference.
The straight grain allowed the paddles to slightly flex, absorbing any punishment that the Canoeguys could throw at them. The paddles needed for this expedition, due to all the different terrains, would have to be an all around paddle, capable of taking anything the Canoeguys could throw at them.
|Shaping the blade using a spokeshave.|
The Henri La Pointe Voyageur Paddle
by Adanac Paddles
Chris Petrie of CanoeGuys.ca
The Henri La Pointe by Adanac Paddles was aptly named after my great-great uncle who was a voyageur over a century ago in the great Canadian West. Hand-crafted out of maple, the paddle was uniquely designed based on traditional paddles used by fur trade voyageurs. After months of historical dialogue, research and analysis, Jill Ellis was able to custom design and create a modern day voyageur paddle; thus, the Henri La Pointe was born.
At first glance and handling of the paddle, one jumps to the quick conclusion that you may have to switch paddles at some point during your expedition due to the weight and size difference. Jill makes each paddle custom and specific to each individual paddler. The paddles, although longer and heavier, are balanced in such a way that the upstroke is nicely complimented by the easier down stroke. The 30 inch blade, much narrower, allows for a perfect stroke reaching far in front and allowing for the handle to rise over the head naturally like it should when properly paddling. Just to give an idea of the size difference, my regular paddle is 58 inches long, while my custom-made Henri is 63 inches. For one who wants to embrace history like us and up for the challenge of a more skill-driven paddle then take a chance on the Henri La Pointe.
|The "Henri La Pointe"|
Our second section had no rapids and no shallow water and these paddles certainly proved that they are truly a deep water paddle as nothing kept us from our speedy progress. These paddles are meant to pull water and that is something they certainly do quite well.
As we entered Grand Rapids Provincial Park we had grown noticeably stronger from the use of the Henri and were unable to use our smaller paddles more ideal for white water. We were afraid that we would over-compensate with the much smaller and lighter paddles that began to feel like children’s toys in comparison. Although we made it through the rapids, we do not recommend voyageur paddles in white water scenarios as the blades are too narrow and not designed for such situations thus being potentially dangerous.
All in all, these paddles are perfect for deep water canoe trips. I recommend it for those looking for a good challenge in their canoe skills and strength. Not only was it built for durability and speed, but it is also offers a nice taste of historical authenticity. Something that all Canoe enthusiasts can appreciate!
|Perfectly balanced...is yours?|