HONEY ISLAND CRUISER
With an interest in history and some prodding from Dave Curtis, I started building a set of cruiser paddles for him at Hemlock Canoe. I later expanded and modified the line for myself that I call Honey Island Cruisers. I build these paddles to be the best that I can. They are all numbered and the owners name recorded in my records. They are NOT built to be rock crunchers, the blades are as fine and thin as I can make and still have the blade stiffness that it needs. With all that, they have also proven to be surprisingly durable. The grips are a combination of Canadian palm, Maine north woods style with a touch of Pat Moore thrown in, ie they are thicker than the traditional paddle grips to provide a better hand grip. Also available with the grips Dave Curtis prefers .
The blades are partially fiberglassed and the dynel edge is not quite knife sharp. The shaft has a fiberglass sleeve to combat the inevitable problem of prying a bit on the gunnel. The finish is sealed with epoxy the varnished with a minimum of 5 coats and a spayed on satin finish topcoat which gives a richness that a gloss finish doesn't have
So how do they work? I sent one of the large blade(9”) ones to Mark Molina in Florida one of the top quiet water paddlers in the country. He called it a significant improvement over the original Blackburn Honey Island and very comparable to paddles by Quimby and Pat Moore. One of the first ones sent to Dave Curtis was intended for his wife, he loaned it out to someone demo-ing a boat and almost didn't get it back.
The Cruisers come in three sizes. The smaller two are Curtis blade sizes, the large one is the original Blackburn design.
Small---8”x21-1/2” blade with normally a smaller shaft and grip
Medium--8-1/2”x22-1/2” blade with larger shaft and grip
Large –9”x24” with the large shaft and grip.
As these are all custom built, any mixture of the above is available including the Gemini style grips.
The small blade is a very underated paddle, almost all the paddles I have made in the last 5 years have been the medium size. The small blade is a real joy for smaller folks and women, it is wht my wife uses.
The original large blade Honey Island Cruisers were produced by Blackburn Designs in Atlanta as a large blade cruising paddle when the smaller and more efficient solo cruising canoes were introduced in the late 1970's by Curtis, Sawyer, Blackhawk and Moore. The original designer of the paddle was Mickey Landry from New Orleans with input from Dave Curtis, Tom and John Blackburn and others, seems like quite a few people claim a bit of it. The name came from a swamp outside New Orleans that Mickey enjoyed paddling. It was also adopted by the freestyle paddlers of the time until the softer shouldered Pat Moore and Craig Quimby designs gained favor. It was also developed into the Lutra Pro by going to an S shaped blade with fuller shoulders and a bent shaft of either 2-1/2 or 14 degrees.
All paddles use a book-matched all western cedar blade with dynel edges The blade has a continuing taper to keep the blade stiff and then the shaft is very slightly reduced in size to have a little flex just above the throat of the blade. The shaft is a stringer style layup of ash and western cedar. Reinforcing is partial 2oz fiberglass sheets on the blade and a 14” long 2 oz fiberglass shaft sleeve. The entire blade and shaft are sealed with a minimum of 2 coats of epoxy then varnished. The grip is has two coats of Watco Exterior Oil to seal it, then one coat of linseed oil, Which will need reapplication as needed. One advantage of this type of finish on the grip is that it allows for customization by the owner.
SMALL: 8” x 21-1/2” , Typical shaft length 32”-35”, Average Weight-21 oz.
MEDIUM: 8-1/2” x 22-1/2”, Typical shaft lengths 32”-36”, Average Weight-23 oz
LARGE: 9”x24”, typical shaft lengths 34”-36”, Average Weight-26 oz
Each paddle is made to order and can be any combination of blade size, shaft size and length and size and type of grip.