Archive for the ‘Sun Protection’ Category

At 5 am Saturday May 7, 2011I woke up, not because my son was calling me, nor for any emergency.  I woke up before the sun started to shine to meet Russell in down town Tampa Florida.  It was the morning of the Third Annual Sweetwater Paddle For the Cure.

The paddling event was set against the skyline of downtown Tampa. For the event all paddlecraft and standup paddleboard participants chose to either race five miles or enjoy a family fun two mile paddle to raise money for cancer research.


We began set up at the scenic Riverfront Park , downtown, on the Hillsborough River. There was a lot of volunteers helping move boats and paddle boards to the dock.¬† I took a moment to scope out the trophies for the winners of the five mile race.¬†¬† And chat with Brody Welte owner of Stand up Fitness.¬† He supplying several SUP’s and gear for this event.¬† I think a few of his Paddle Fit students placed during the race.

Before 8am Ron, Chad, a few others, and I left the dock and headed down River to our assigned locations for the race.¬† I was at the marker next to Tampa General Hospital.¬† And I had the Jose’ Gasparilla Pirate ship to the east.

While I waited for the event to begin I did my normal on the water warm up and then enjoyed my breakfast.  I prefer to paddle backwards to warm and lengthen my back.

This morning I skipped my 60 grams of whey fruit smoothie.¬† It was too early to start up the blender.¬† And to wake my son…¬† I instead chose to not make a disturbance in the kitchen and eat a standard on the water kayaking dawn breakfast.¬†¬† It consists of water, carrots, citrus, and beef jerky.¬† This time I tried a new beef jerky “Jeff’s Gourmet Jerky“.¬† In a single word YUM.

I will be writing a post about this new Jerky soon…

At 8:30am the five mile race downriver and into Seddon Channel and back.

The two paddle craft that were in front were an Epic and a carbon tandem kayak (I could not make out either model).  All but one participant went around the marker.  What I also noticed was how some people struggled with making an one-hundred-eighty degree turn.  Several paddlers in expensive kayaks would just kill them selves with short port side strokes.  Some people did use a sweep combined with edging.  It was the leaders of the heats used either a low-brace on the outside (port side) or a high-brace (on their starboard side) to turn.  Turning in a race like this made all the difference.

The 2 mile family fun paddle began at 10:00.¬† I saw more people on paddle boards during the family paddle than kayaks.¬† The attraction to using an SUP is easy for me to see.¬† A person can see more by giving a new dimension above the water.¬† SUP’s are light weight, easy to transport, and easy to store in and apartment or garage.¬† Granted I still prefer camping and paddling during small craft advisory days.¬† So I am not going to convert to the SUP just yet.

From what I saw on and off the water everyone had fun.  Everyone was a welcomed participant.  See, in a means to encourage everyone to sign up for the race and come out have fun and help BEAT CANCER WITH A PADDLE, the organizers offered the event to everyone.  No paddle experience was required for either event and rental kayaks and standup paddleboards were available.  If you get a chance mark you calender for next years event.  And maybe I will see you on the water РJeff

sid_slip_slop_slap_seek_slideJune is UV Safety Month.

In 1981, the Cancer Council Victoria gave birth to a seagull named Sid.  Sid is the popular figure that promotes how to reduce sun exposure in Australia.  I think their campaign to reduce the risk of skin cancer is a good idea and kayakers should rethink how we treat our skin while we paddle under the Florida sun.

* * *

CDC Statistics: In the United States, incidence of melanoma of the skin has

  • increased significantly by 7.7% per year from 2003 to 2005 among men.
  • increased significantly by 2.9% per year from 1993 to 2005 among women.

Kayakers paddle on a giant UV reflective surface; consequently, we increase our risk of developing skin cancer and harming the eyes.  I have hear of all of the excuses: I work in an office and I paddle to get a tan, it is too hot to wear a long-sleeve shirt and hat, a shirt will produce an armpit rash, I do not want to be greasy, et cetera.

I grew up backpacking and we need to think like a person walking in the desert.¬† Dress for the sun exposure.¬† And remember that the sun’s rays can still damage skin and eyes even on a cloudy day.¬† Wear loose-fitting, light-colored synthetic clothing.¬† I usually avoid cotton fabric, except in¬†extreme windless summer heat. A long-sleeved shirt will protect the skin from sunburn,¬† and it does reduce water loss from perspiration.

I want to paddle well past my 80’s, and I do not want my enjoyment of the outdoors to be cut short because of skin cancer.¬† That is why I…

  1. Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.¬† Preventing Skin Cancer: kayak¬†kit ‚ÄĘ May 5, 2009
  2. Slop on SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen liberally to dry skin, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors.
  3. Slap on a broad brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
  4. Seek shade during the time of day when the UV index is the highest
  5. Slide on sunglasses the sun is bright and there is a great danger the sun can harm the eyes. Everyone is at risk for eye damage that can lead to vision loss from exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Boll√©¬†Sunglasses ‚ÄĘ January 7, 2009 ‚ÄĘ


I paddle in Florida.  And playing outside increases my risks of developing skin cancer.  I do take precautions to protect my skin.  I wear sunblock that is high in a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF.  And I cover as much skin as possible.  Covering skin with a long sleeve top is the simplest yet most challenging way to protect the skin in a hot climate.  I have used lycra (surfer style rash guards) but they always kept me wet.  Now I use a  shirt made by Columbia because it keeps me cool, dry, and rash free of chafing armpits.

I hope my sun kit gives you some ideas to keep your skin healthy. —Jeff

  • My skin protection kit includes
  • I also wear Bolle’ wrap-around polarized sunglasses


I use a Greenland style paddle designed by Chris Raab owner of Tuktu Paddles.  I have to admit Tuktu Paddles designs all of my Greenland paddles.  At one time I was sponsored by Tuktu Paddles.  Chris has always been helpful in answering questions, and shipping me and my students custom orders in a timely manner.   He also makes some great traditional single blade paddles.  I use an Alaskan Tlingit style single blade paddle when I go fishing.  Chris did some custom artwork on it of an Alaskan Tlingit raven.

tuktu_paddles_sponsorOutside of being cool and steeped in history there is a logical reason why I sometimes paddle with a Greenland style paddle than an Euro-blade design.¬† The wet surface area of the Greenland blade is equal to or greater than the common kayak paddle.¬† The benefit of the stretched out blade is the even distribution of water pressure along the blades’ surface. This also produces a soft glide and transition within the water. And the ability to conserve energy.

The paddler uses a stroke that matches their body, sometimes long and low Рother times like a wing paddle.  The technology of the paddle design  requires less movement of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Heavy winds also have less affect on the smaller profile. Thus feathering the paddle is unnecessary. Consequently, the style of usage of this wood paddle generally reduces fatigue, decreases a potential of developing tendonitis or tenosynovitis, and is nice to the muscular-skeletal system of the human body.

Moreover, the wood shaft is warm on cold days and cool on hot days.

Some believe that a Greenland style paddle is not fast.¬† That is not true.¬† The paddle is efficient in transferring a paddler’s core energy into the water.¬† Some experience a slow start with the initial plant and purchase (catch of water).¬† However,¬† it is like a warming up your engine.¬† The Greenland paddle starts slow but will steadily overcome other paddles due to the Greenland design.¬† And modern wing paddles mimic the flow of a Greenland paddle.

The paddle design does take some getting accustom to.  Many first timers try to overpower this type of paddle the first time they put it into the water.  The paddle will quickly inform the paddler if they are not using it correctly.  There will be air pools around the paddle, or the paddle will vibrate.  Or the most dramatic effect in misuse of the paddle can result in an unplanned capsize.  So, a new paddler needs instruction in how to benefit from the paddle.

If you do not already own your own Greenland traditional kayak qajaq paddle then check out Tuktu Paddles  They offer Greenland style kayak paddles, storm paddles and, single blade sea kayak & canoe paddles, in a wide variety of styles and options.  Pick from their in stock catalog or order a paddle custom made to fit you.  All of their paddles are handmade so let them make a paddle that fits you.

There are other manufactures of Greenland paddles; however, I am not familiar with the quality of neither the paddles nor their customer service. Nevertheless, here is a list of five companies that I have come across that make Greenland Qajaq paddles: Betsie Bay Kayak Paddles, Cricket Designs, Friday Harbor Paddles, Mitchell Paddles, NOVORCA, Turtle Paddle Works.  And if you are looking for a traditional Aleut paddle check out Skinboats.  (What is an Aleut paddle?  The answer will be coming soon.)

NOTE: We offer this information here as a service.  As with any products consumers should investigate and determine on their own which equipment, best fits their needs and budget.