Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bending Branches Rock Guard

I sent a letter to Bending Branches, makers of what I think are about the best paddles out there, about their rock guard feature. Ibi gets pulled by two of Bending Branches paddles, the twin-blade Slice Glass solo canoe paddle, and the BB Special bent-shaft wood paddle with the rock guard tip. Both have done about 300 miles, and I’ve been very happy with their performance and durability. The wood BB Special looks like I just pulled it out of the plastic wrapper, and I give the rock guard tip most of the credit for that ruggedness.

When we did the Florida Keys Challenge, it was 115 miles from Key Largo to Key West, and the BB Special did the whole trip. The significance of that is that it was all in shallow water over sharp coral sand, coral gravel, and limestone. Between frequently being in shallow water, and making landings on sharp coral and limestone, the paddle took hard use due to regular contact with the bottom. It even saw use as a pole to fend the canoe off the hard shore to protect the boat. After 115 miles of this, and 300 miles total, the paddle came home looking like new---not a blemish, which I think is rather remarkable for a wood paddle. The only maintenance needed is the light sanding and new coat of varnish I gave it, about a 30 minute job. I’ve frequently repaired cracked and chipped oars and paddles, and even covered the tips with epoxy and fiberglass, so it’s really nice to see a paddle come with a solid tip that does the job with no increase in weight. I’d recommend any Bending Branches paddle, but this bent shaft BB Special with the rock guard is really nice.

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