by Kent and Audrey Lewis
The Skipper and I launch our small sail-and-oar boats from our beach and dock, and coming and going we have to negotiate several obstacles. With the boathook we may pole off the beach, fend off from our beach groins, or push off the dock. We’ll also paddle to and from the dock and in and out of the wind shadow created by the shoreside trees. We like to carry as little gear as possible when sailing, so we created a combination paddle and boathook, which we call a “padook.”
We liked the bronze boathook that we ordered from The WoodenBoat Store and attached it to a wooden shovel handle. Handle and hook together measured 5′, a length that worked well for our Penobscot 14; it had a good reach length and was easy to store and use, so we set that as the length for the padook. We bought another bronze hook and made a new shaft with a paddle blade shaped like that of a traditional Greenland paddle.
We both prefer using Greenland paddles for kayaking; used properly, the long, narrow blades have a powerful stroke and are very well suited for sculling techniques. The slender blades, unlike those of conventional paddles, are sized to provide a good grip in the hand and would also make the padook a little easier to stow aboard our small boat.
We started with a piece of white pine, trimmed it for finished overall length of 5′, and tapered the shaft end to fit in the boathook socket. The bronze hook is secured with two silicon-bronze wood screws. The wooden paddle part measures 1-3/8″ diameter at the hook end, transitions to a 1-1/8″ by 1-3/8″ oval at the paddle throat, and flares to 2-5/8” wide at the paddle tip. The blade is 34” long, tapers to 1/8″ at the edges, and has a center chord that tapers from the 1-3/8″ thickness at the throat to the 1/8″ tip. The edges have shoulders where they meet the loom, and for paddling this provides a good grip that’s easily oriented by touch in the dark, as well as a secure handhold when we have to pull hard with the hook.
As it is with Greenland paddles, the padook works best when the blade is moving slightly edgewise through the water. It will flutter when pulled hard straight back, but still provide power. Think of it as the blade of an airplane propeller instead of a plank on a paddle-wheel. The blade is very well suited for sculling; we can provide a constant pull and avoid having to pull the blade out of the water. Coming back home we use the hook end of the padook to fend off the dock and grab dock cleats.
Like a proper boathook, the padook floats vertically—the weight of the hook pulls the loom down; 16″ of the blade sticks up above the surface, much easier to see and grab than a boathook that floats flat. The padook also aligns with our goal of having boating gear that serves multiple purposes. Maneuvering a boat around a dock usually requires a paddle and a boathook, and we like having a single device in hand that takes the place of both.
Audrey “Skipper” Lewis and “Clark” Kent Lewis enjoy small boating along the bays and rivers of Florida’s Emerald Coast. Their adventures can be followed on their small boat restoration blog.
I was intrigued by the Lewis’ padook and decided to build one for myself. It was an easy and familiar shop project—I’ve made several Greenland paddles in the past and described the process in a book I wrote, Building the Greenland Kayak. Here’s how I went about making my padook:
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