Building a Skin-on-Frame Kayak

The past week I spent in Vestfossen, Norway at Anders Thygesen‘s workshop. Anders organizes kayak building courses where a group of people each build their own traditional skin-on-frame kayaks under his expert supervision. I chose to build an Unangan iqyax, also known as Aleut baidarka.

The iqyax is the traditional hunting vessel of the Unangan who inhabit(ed) the Aleutian Islands between Alaska and Kamchatka.

I spent pretty much exactly 80 hours on the kayak, finishing the frame and sewing the skin (which is a very heavy cotton canvas instead of seal or sea lion skin used traditionally by the Unangan people). I will have to add a few more hours painting and sanding the hull a couple of times before I can take it to the waters.

The total length of the kayak is 5,45 m. The boat is not ment to be a replica, as the building process has been simplified and of course we have used tools that were not available to the iqyax’s inventors. The kayak itself, however, is made of wood, flax yarn, and cotton canvas only.

Once painted I hope to take the iqyax on lovely trips in the future.

This entry is about Equipment. Bookmark the permalink.