Tag Archives: werner camano

Paddles for IKs and packrafts

Updated summer 2019
See also: Anfibio Fly

shovelorspadepad-abmrLike most beginners I started my IK-ing with a super cheap 3-piece TNP shovel. Then, after picking up a much better used 2-piece fibreglass Lendal Archipelago which eventually seized up, for Shark Bay in 2006 I splashed out on a decent light, rigid, bent-shaft, adjustable, low angle 2-piece, 230cm Werner Camano. At £230, it cost more than my first two boats but over 13 years on I have no regrets. The Camano just works.
To me bent shafts and an indexed, ovalised grip make ergonomic sense for steady, all-day paddles rather than pulling fast moves in rapids. It’s just more compatible with the non-rectilinear human form. I did notice that when I swapped back to the slightly highangleheavier straight Lendal (before it seized) there was noticeably less flex, but well over a decade later, the Camano is in great shape and is still my favourite for sea kayaking.
The Camano is a low-angle paddle, but I think my style, if you can call it that, is high angle, and in fact I read that high angle is the right way to do it. I find that wide, high-sided and relatively unresponsive IKs and packrafts encourage or require an energetic ‘digging’ style compared to a smooth gliding hardshell.


A paddle for  packrafting
 The way I see it, even more so than most IKs, a packraft has high and fat sides and you sit low inside. So that ought to mean a long paddle to get over all that plastic and into the water. Paddling with the 220cm, big-faced Aquabound paddle, I didn’t really notice any issues other than some squeaking as I rub the sides occasionally. Longer would not have made much difference.
paddles3At less than 3kg a packraft is extremely light but it’s not an efficient shape for gliding through water. However, once on the water with a paddler in it, the total weight is nearly the same as a more glidey IK, so it boils down to the need to propel the hull using a paddle with a large surface area. Some might say a bigger blade will mean more yawing, but I figure you just dig less hard and anyway, with practice, yawing is easily controlled. Providing you have the strength, a bigger face ought to give the speed which packraft and IK lack. There are times (mostly at sea or on white water) when speed and power can mean safety.
In the US I got myself an Aqua Bound Manta Ray 4-piece high-angle in carbon (below, 220cm). Weighing under 900g this one feels more flexy than the Camano, but fits right in the bag and so makes a great packrafting or back-up paddle – apaddleinyourpack, so to speak. Mine has the two-position snap button offset which I run at 45°. You can also get an infinite-position Posi-Lok version.
mantaray1The compact and light Manta Ray (70cm longest section, left) is ideal on short day trips with public transport and with no load to haul on the water. It has been fine for UK packrafting and makes a great packstaff, too, but it doesn’t always come apart easily like the Werners. Dry or wet, don’t leave it assembled for days or weeks, especially after sea use (that probably goes for all multi-piece paddles).
I’ve used my Manta sea kayaking in Australia as well as packrafting – it was fine for both. For the price this is a great paddle – so good I sold it to my Ozzie mate and bought another. I’ve never seen a 4-part Manta for sale in the UK, but in Germany the Packrafting Store sells TLC Mantas.



paddles1I also have a straight, fibreglass-blade Werner Corrywrecken (£200 years ago). It’s the biggest paddle Werner do in 210cm+ 2-piece touring paddles, and anyway it’s only got 0.7m2 blades compared to the Camaro’s 0.65m2. At 220cm (same as the Manta Ray) I’ve also gone as short as I dare to get over the fat sides of a packraft.
paddles2There’s no indexing on the straight, carbon shaft, just a little ovalisation as on the Aqua Bound. The Corry’s face is a tad bigger than the Manta Ray (right and above) but the whole stick feels much more rigid (it’s 2-piece). It’s 7% lighter than the Manta Ray and 17% lighter than the stiffer Camano – initially you notice this. I compare my Corry and Camano in my Incept sea kayak here.

Weights & Measures
According to the kitchen scales the weights of these paddles are:

  • Werner Camano 230,  2-piece – 988g – stiffest
  • Werner Corrywrecken 220, 2-piece – 816g
  • Aqua Bound Manta Ray 220, 4-piece – 880g – least stiff but still fine

So now I have a long, comfy low-angle Camano for long, loaded IK sea trips; a straight, rigid, light, shorter big-faced Corry for packboating and guests (the Mrs likes it), and a compact, 4-piece Aqua Bound Manta for travelling.

The Wasp Factory

I’ve been watching a range of weather forecasts in a bid to try and get a feel for things around here. With no hurricanes predicted, last night I went out for a paddle along the shore. Even now it’s light here till 10pm.
On a quiet beach I came across a strange installation – an abandoned Wasp Factory or maybe just some kids’ flotsam beach house. In some places the masses of washed-up fishing industry junk is depressing in the otherwise unpolluted surroundings, but it’s also part of what makes beachcombing so intriguing. Whose chopped down wellies were they (different sizes, made in Holland)? When was Calmac man’s (Hebridean ferry service) hard hat blown overboard and did he go with it? All messages without a bottle. If nothing else, as Gael observed last year along the SSKT, there’s always plenty of rope, netting and more usefully, firewood to be found on less visited beaches.P1010356

Eight years later it finally succumbed to the Hebridean gales.

 

Once, on an Atlantic beach near the Mauritanian border I came across what could only have been oak timbers from some 16th-century European galleon (right); there are many shipwrecks along that less well-known skeleton coast. One beam included a distinctive, heart-shaped ring of rusted wrought iron which I’m sure some maritime archaeologist could identify and date. A rope guide maybe? We took an oak beam with us into the desert and later our guide – more used to using acacia – noted approvingly that our very well-seasoned hardwood’s embers made very nice sand bread.

Spade or shovel?
I paddled open deck that evening and along the way attempted to compare my good old, bent-shaft Werner Camano with my newer Corrywrecken (both discussed in more detail here). In short, over a couple of hours I could hardly tell the difference in operational terms except that the Corry initially felts amazingly light and taught after using the Camano, but going back to the Camano doesn’t exactly feel like falling headfirst down a well. Both are great paddles when compared to a spade tied to a shovel with duct tape. Can’t say the bigger Corry made the boat go any faster, but perhaps the lighter pull of the more ergonomically bent, low-angle Camano felt more natural and sustainable. It’s hard to tell if that’s a genuine impression or just a pre-conditioned response to what sea kayak paddle lore suggests. I think in the Incept I’ll stick with the Camano, only because it continues to work so unobtrusively plus I don’t want to mash or lose the newer Corry any sooner than necessary. Despite being named after a famous tidal whirlpool off Jura, I’d say the Corry is a great white water blade, where you want to pull fast pivots and brisk acceleration to navigate complex rapids.

No rudder
I paddled back 2 miles or so with the rudder up under a very light wind and with perhaps a bit of back tide and swell. I’m getting the knack of tracking the K40 a lot quicker than in the Sunny without a skeg – but then I only discovered the Sunny worked skeglessly by mistake after a few weeks. My conclusion in the Incept is that you’re maybe 1kph down on a typical 6.5kph cruise (I had a GPS) because of the correcting finesse and concentration required. Maybe that will subside, but it all takes a little more out of you physically, as your hands are doing the steering/tracking as well as the pulling. Just like in the Sunny, every few minutes you spin offline for no reason you can fathom. So then either you pull hard to bring the front back, or you just spin right out and check out the view behind, then paddle backwards for a bit as if you were planning to turn all along. After a bit of that you lose it anyway, let it swing back around pointing forward and carry on your way.