The sine qua non of Greenland Kayaking

I am adding fuel to the fire of debate with this post.

Bubble Street 12 Feb 2008

Greenland paddlers like to say we “qajaq”.  We sometimes wear a tulik that make us look like a talking seal.  The paddle we use looks like a thin-down two by four piece of lumber.  We prefer to play between the edge of where air and water meet.  It is totally “Old School”. And for some it is all about the show of rolling.

Is going Green’ a cult?  By definition it is.  One of the common definitions of cult is “An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic, or intellectual interest”.  The rejecting of modern technology to embrace the technology of history is the sine qua non of relating to the water in a way that land lovers may never understand.

In the next few posts I will share with you why I am a Greenland style paddler.  The logic behind why I see value in paddling with several styles of paddles.  And why I enjoy teaching this traditional style of kayaking to Florida paddlers who want to improve their paddling form and feel of the water.  – Jeff


  1. Because some of my friends have been privately ribbing me prefering me not to go “professor”. And not wanting comment on the blog for the world to see…

    Let me explain, sine qua non simply meens the essential element. And the essential element to why I enjoy Grenland style of paddling is the rejecting of modern technology to embrace the technology of history.

    I will write the next few Greenland posts in Laymen’s terms (very simple and easy explanations)

  2. As a fairly hefty fella I wonder if I will ever be able to go “qajaq”. The Greenland skin on frame qajaqs are, well, skinny and tight – a real problem for a fatty like myself. I’d look more like an elephant seal for starters!! I would love to be able to do 35 different rolls…. of course, I’d love to be able to do ONE roll – Haha!! 🙂

  3. Hey Sean – It is great to hear from you. I read your blog weekly.

    The cool thing about the “qajaq” is that they are all custom built. I have met several paddlers who are your size paddling this style of kayak. Some of them have even purchased a tulik with a fin on it.

    The neat thing about history is that not all of the boats of the past had small cockpits. Some were large ovals to fit larger men. And the Folbot Cooper is an excellent example of old school design for today’s paddler

    No worries about the rolling; practice your high and low brace around a coach and friends. And if you really want to roll I will ask my wife if I can visit. Haha!! 🙂

  4. Hey Jeff!
    Well, I tested a Greenland paddle last week and fell in love with it immediately, so this week I’ll be adding one permanently to my repertoire. I’m also going to do a nice long paddle in my Cooper with the stick, so there will be a blog post very soon on the experience!
    Good luck with your wife btw – you should have seen the response I got from mine when I said “Oh btw I’m going to Alaska next month to go paddling…”. Am still paying for it now. 😛

  5. Sean I saw you post today ” Paddle Review: Aussie-made CohoKayak Greenland Paddle ” I want to get my hands on one of their paddles when I visit Australia.

    The “singing” you experienced is natural. Your stroke sounds great! You are absolutely paddling in rhythm to the water when the stick sings.

    Thankfully my wife does not read this blog often. Because I am not ready to tell her of my travel plans. I do not want to pay for it until after the trip. 😛

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