How to Maintain your Canoe Paddle

Where would any paddler be without their paddle? Kayak, canoe; flat water, white water, we all rely on our trusty paddle. That also means that our paddles rely on us to keep them in good working condition. If you take care of your paddle, touch it up once in a while it can last forever! 

My mother handed down my current paddle to me when I was 16. My reliable Teal paddle. You wouldn’t think that a guide would have beat up paddle, a chip and 2 cracks in the blade (one running almost halfway up). I know that I’m a poor example of a paddle owner… Amir reminds me every time he sees my paddle. If you compare my paddle to Amir’s you would think that his is brand new while mine is over a dozen years old (which it is). The surprising thing is that Amir’s paddle is almost as old as mine; he just takes better care of his paddle. 

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Of course I like the idea of having a paddle that’s in pristine condition, looks beautiful, and is admired by all. But I am not so willing to coddle my paddle. One of the reasons my paddle looks the way it does is because I throw it on land when we get to shore, I use it to push against rocks when I’m stuck on something, I smack it on the water to make a loud crack, and so many other things that aren’t great for it. I do it all because it’s fun, it’s convenient, and my paddle is a tool I am not afraid to use. 

At this point my paddle is too far gone to save. One of the cracks in the blade runs so high that it’s only a matter of time before it breaks in half. By the end of the summer I will be getting a brand new Teal paddle. While I will still use and abuse this one, I will also be doing more maintenance on this one to ensure that I can use it for many years. Re-finishing my paddle is one way to insure its longevity. 
Re-finishing a paddle takes only a few easy steps to accomplish. 

  1. With a fine sandpaper, smooth the area in which you want to re-finish, and wipe any dust that is left behind
  2. Using an oil based polyurethane, apple a coat of the oil and let it dry completely 
  3. Sand the area again, and wipe dusty away
  4. Follow these steps two or three more times and your paddle will be ready for the next adventure! 

It’s taken me to long to realize that maybe I should be taking a little better care of my paddle if I don’t want to be buying a new one every 5 years. Hopefully you will learn from my experience, use and abuse your paddle but take care of it in the end.