Saturday, June 13, 2009

Skinboat Authorities

(King Island kayak from around 1800, replica built by Harvey Golden. Photo courtesy of the builder)

And the winner for a sustained performance in Arctic kayak replica construction is...
Harvey Golden.

Harvey lives in the Pacific Northwest, and has built more than 50 replica boats in the last 15 years. Using a variety of sources, ranging from Adney and Chapelle's Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America to personal measurements taken on original boats held by museums, he has replicated every major type (and many of the sub-types) of Arctic kayak known -- several of them more than once. His work appears very authentic, down to the use of lashings versus pegs to hold the wooden frameworks together, as appropriate to the particular boat at hand. Of course he uses synthetic materials in place of the original sealskin, baleen, and similar restricted materials, but the end results are as accurate as can be imagined given the legal limitations and ecological considerations involved.

Harvey has kept a great many of the kayaks he's built, and keeps them in the old corner grocery store that constitutes the first floor of his home. From the photo below, which I'm using by permission, it seems to be quite a sight.

Harvey's research has led to the publication of KAYAKS OF GREENLAND: The History and Development of the Greenlandic Hunting Kayak, 1600-2000, which I haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing, but which I've heard compared favorably to Adney's work on bark canoes. And Harvey is working on two follow-up volumes, on Alaskan and Canadian kayaks. Look over the website of this self-directed, masterful authority. You'll be amazed. He lists every boat he's built, the documentation he used as source material, includes photos of many or all of them (including construction details of several), and has several useful links to other skinboat resources. A virtuoso performance!

On the subject of skinboats: another important source is, where you can buy just about any kind of construction material, information, or training for building your own skin-on-frame kayak, baidarka, traditional-style kayak paddle, pulling boat, umiak, or "zoomiak" -- a clever variant on the modern hard-bottom-inflatable boat using a skin-on-flame foundation for the inflatable collar.

1 comment:

  1. Great post .I am making a greenland paddle from the web info and online video.

    Graham up in Canada