My paddle broke without warning (+ carbon resurrection!)

3 weeks 3 days ago - 3 weeks 3 days ago #39198 by MCImes
This happened a couple months ago but I'm just getting around to writing the story.It was a small-ish day on the ocean.. I warmed up for for mile and was paddling a hundred yards outside the surf zone when out of nowhere my blade catastrophically fractured right at the blade-shaft interface. A thread of carbon held it together before i tore off the blade and shoved it under the bungees. it broke without warning and without much power on the blade and I was left confused for a second.Anyways I paddled 1 bladed about a third of a mile back to the harbor and all was fine, but if that was a 7 foot day that same spot would be bad times with a broken blade. I ended up fixing my paddle and I'll probably stash i on the back deck on big big days.I didn't have 2 weeks to wait for a new paddle so I set about reattaching the pieces with carbon. I used the good blade as reference and strapped both paddles to a wire rack using ratchet straps. I carefully adjusted the broken shaft until it had the same axial angle as the good one. Luckily when it broke, it left a shape that allowed me to get the radial angle within a few degrees according to my muscle memory and observing the shift in feather angle the ferrule reported.Before I strapped them down I carefully trimmed 3 layers of 6oz carbon cloth to be the new bond. After positioning the paddles (cup side down) I epoxied the top (convex) half back together and let it sit overnight.The next day I took it off the wire rack and did some quick shaping of the unruly carbon edges. Then Carbon'd 3 layers to the concave blade side and shift and let cure.After some light shaping and blending she came back together in usable form. I paddled with it 3 times before my new paddle arrived. It is definitely not quote right, but also very usable in a pinch or as a backup paddle.Anyways, that's a long winded explanation to say wow many people actually carry a backup paddle ok big days? Or had a failure in a bad spot? What was the result?

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
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3 weeks 3 days ago #39199 by Watto
Hi MCIMes. Sorry mate going to take the piss here but topic heading 'My paddle broke without warning' - hmmm, bitch/bastard didn't text me! Shit breaks without warning is what I mean. No good mate, but regardless of kit one day things like this WILL happen. For me three significant incidents over last five or so years in big weather, all paddling with a mate.  Re buddy-ing up, see Robin's recent very sobering post! 

One, paddle snapped above blade 500 or so metres out with onshore swell, blowing mid twenty knots . We had walkie-talkies, I squawked, he came back, I tried paddling ashore couldn't make it with swells and chop too strong so we rafted up amazingly well and I went on alone through the break (sandy beach) unscathed. Boat recovery later was straightforward, mate knew where I was. Second incident rudder cable parted company, this one no two-way radios, I yelled, he heard and came back. Similar rafting, ashore on my own very lucky this spot big shore break but made it in ok. Ran couple of kms back along beach then recovered boat later.

Third one, gale force winds, coastal warnings etc and out of a calm Ocean Reef Marina I was struggling early in my NK Squall (very stable boat), barely managing to stay upright before turning few hundred metres out. Mate turned and went and in strong winds big swell that was it - he was gone, just disappeared. As it turned out my rudder was loose which I didn't know at the time and I was in deep shit, totally out of control in big wind and waves. Wind and swell blowing from the NW onshore and very fortunately I had managed to paddle past low cliffs and fringing reef and after coming out twice, washed ashore on beach with very little break. Lucky me. Stashed boat safely in the dunes, ran the 3-4 kms along the beach to vehicle drop-off at Hillarys. 

The point MCImes is having a buddy to paddle with.  You can't always rely on them or expect to be saved but there's  some decent back-up opportunity! Rider: I am a hypocrite and I do paddle alone sometimes in testing conditions, maybe don't we all, however shit does happen and all Rob has talked about in his recent post I agree. I love travelling on that edge out there big weather etc however - do I carry a backup paddle? Thought about it but only for an expedition - long dangerous and/or alone. On a normal paddle - take your mate. Besides I'd actually feel such a wanker doing a basic run looking like I was off on a polar expedition  .  

 

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3 weeks 3 days ago #39200 by mrcharly
Hmm - buddying up isn't an option for me. Nobody else out here.

So I change my route, by myself I'm a lot more tentative and cautious than I'd be if I were with someone else who was competent. 

I read the story differently; the lesson I take from it is "Check your gear".   Check rudder lines, check paddle for suspect bits, joints opening, etc. 

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3 weeks 3 days ago #39201 by zachhandler
Wattos advice is sage. The caveats I would add is that 1) as mr charley said the option of paddling with a partner not a luxury everyone has and 2) that partner is likely of less use than you would think. There are times of course when a partner is a hero and saves a life. But often that is not possible. Paddlers loses sight of each other, can’t find each other when they try, lack communication devices, and often paddle with the goal of racing start to finish with safety and sticking together a mere afterthought. Also, many paddlers are not capable of providing true assistance when two fragile tippy boats are banging into each other in high seas, and two paddlers can end up in the water in a hurry. So yes, having a partner is better than not, but ideally we want a skilled partner who has the right gear, knows how to use it, and is willing to change the way they routinely paddle so as to be an effective partner. And even that is not perfect. No system is bulletproof. This is a good discussion to have so thanks for speaking up watto! 

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Epic V12 g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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3 weeks 2 days ago #39202 by tve
I had my "paddle fun" a few months back. Launching in the harbor my right paddle made a funny sound when plunging it into the water. I checked the feather angle. Checked seating position. Checked my technique. What am I doing wrong today? Then I examined the paddle and realized that the glue holding the blade to the shaft had failed and thus the blade was rotating almost freely and about to fall off. By the time I made it back the shaft had a couple of cracks so I reinforced with some carbon, easier repair than Marcus'. I was just glad I noticed in the harbor and not 3 miles out...

Paddling with a partner, yeah... only works if the partner is (a) competent and (b) everyone really stops every 1/2mi or 1km or 5min to wait for everyone else. Anyone who's doing a time-trial or looking for PB isn't a buddy. Since Watto mentioned the story posted by Rob, I have to says that when I read "In the meantime, the lead pair of singles had vanished and made their way successfully to Fish Hoek." I had to re-read. Really?? Really??? Two blokes I wouldn't paddle with again!

For me my safety factors are overdressing a bit (I know Marcus does and simply jumps in if he gets too hot), having multiple communications devices (not a bother actually), and as Boyan always says, paddling where you have some chance of swimming to shore...

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3 weeks 1 day ago #39203 by Ranga
Most of the time the paddle is damaged well before you go out paddling from bad handling or from previous outings. 

Yes, I hear it all the time, "the blade just fell off!"  Yes, they always fall off other than the hundred times you went out before?

I suspect your repair will not cut it if the only thing you did was patch it with a few layers on the outside. That is a high stress area and needs internal support of a lot of carbon and epoxy is essential. Woven carbon does not have the required strength unless you have many layers which from the pictures don't look to be the case.

I usually never try to repair when blades snap there. It will only end in tears.

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1 week 5 days ago #39229 by Rod Thomas

 Since Watto mentioned the story posted by Rob, I have to says that when I read "In the meantime, the lead pair of singles had vanished and made their way successfully to Fish Hoek." I had to re-read. Really?? Really??? Two blokes I wouldn't paddle with again!

 

Maybe read it again. They were beginners, and out in front. Beginners can't help in high winds and big seas.
 

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