Been paddling with a cedar skinny stick for last 4 years. As my comfort level and skill improved I started to develop my ideas on what sort of performance I wanted in my next GP. Once I had a clear picture of changes I started looking for a source. I interviewed several paddle makers but felt they were trying to sell me on their designs rather than crafting a stick to my requirements. Then along came Chad Quinn at Bear Traditional Kayaks in Brevard NC. After much online discussion I felt that we were on the same page. Chad does classes on paddle making and skin on frame kayaks. I signed up for the paddle class to coincide with my summer kayaking trip to Lake Jocassee SC. Chad and I spent the first hour or two taking measurements, discussing short comings of my current GP. After deciding on the changes he helped me draw layout lines on a beautiful straight grain cedar blank. From there Chad did the rough cutting of the basic shape and showed me how to begin shaping with the hand plane. After two days of shaping and sanding my new stick was ready for finish. That night Chad applied several coats of teak oil and burned the Bear logo in one blade and coated the blade tips with epoxy resin. I left his shop with a paddle that fully reflected my ideas and the proof would soon be in the paddling. Yes it took several hours to adjust my stroke to this GP but I wasn't disappointed. This stick was lighter with thinner blades and a bit more length which was just the ticket. As I usually paddle a light narrow boat in sheltered waters it's weight and flexy blades give me effortless power. The experience of crafting my own stick under the guidance of a master craftsman was a wonderful exercise for this almost 70 yr old kayaker. My thoughts now turn to the prospect of building a skin on frame this winter in Chad's shop.
This morning I launch from our home in east NC to go out and collect trash on our annual river cleanup. At one point I had over 50 lbs in bags on back deck and cockpit. A real work horse. Best times are when my dog Nelson is sitting on a pad ahead of my feet sniffing out adventure.
My boat, being one of the first editions, lacked somewhat in fit and finish plus a few necessities such as a security loop to attach lock. I made small changes and had to reinforce area under seat but she's done me good. I pull a 4 boat trailer with and Eddyline Samba, CD Willow in fiberglass and a Hurricane 128 Expedition for my wife. The boat that sees most water time is still the Santee. Nelson says if I sell he's leaving home.
New or used this is a great rec boat for all paddlers
For starters, I'm short, 5'2" and 140 lbs so the Samba is a very good fit. I'm also 66 so need a boat that is easy to carry and launch. Fit and finish is excellent to date I have made no changes to deck rigging or seat, just a bit of additional foam on thigh pads. I am not a rudder fan so I wanted a boat that tracks well. With the adjustable skeg my Samba handles all wind and wave conditions.
Although I have a fiberglass sea kayak and several smaller rec boats, the Samba is my main ride. I also recently switched to a Greenland paddle and find that I can power the Samba like a pro in some very sloppy conditions. If you are looking for a boat that will track, edge and perform try the Samba
Fit, finish and rigging is excellent. Would give it a 10 but for two items, rear hatch too small and adjustable seat chafes the inside of hull. Definitely a great choice for smaller frame paddlers.