Sea Kayaks

           Over the years I have built a collection of sea kayaks. I got interested in the process after a conversation with some friends who were sea kayak guides. Originally I was interested in the number of modern kayak designs that trace their inspiration to Greenland boats, but I also wondered what alternatives there were to these designs. That was when I discovered George Dyson and the western sea kayak designs that are generally lumped under the generic Russian term; “baidarkas”.
            The first baidarka I built was a behemoth twentyfour foot long double based on a Kodiak type. Although she was fairly light, her length meant she had to be moved by trailer. She could carry huge amounts of camping gear, and supplies. The Kodiak double was built as a “skin” boat; that is a cloth skin over a wood frame. The frame was built using drawings and photographs from museums. The skin was a 26 oz nylon that George Dyson was selling as kayak skin. It was easy to work with, and when painted with a hypalon paint combined virtual indestructibility with the softness and flexibility of traditional boats covered with animal skin.
             The Kodiak boat was a great platform from which to launch a series of adventures onkodiak-double.jpg the Maine coast and in the Canadian Maritimes. It also proved to be the first of what turned into be a fleet of boats. Mostly Aleutian single cockpit boats of various sizes, although an occasional Greenland type snuck in as well. frames.jpgI experimented with different species of wood to see what effect this would have on performance. The problem with this line of approach is thatthree-singles.jpg it creates more questions than answers and thus more boats.


             Most of the time when I pass by “the fleet” on my way into the wood shop I am reminded of the many wonderful trips these boats were part of. Sometimes, however, the presence of so many boats is a little oppressive. I can’t possibly need all of them, in fact some would not get used at all if I did not loan them out to friends from time to time. I am reminded of a T shirt I saw one day that read “Plures naves quam mentes” (More boats than brains).


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