Sunday, December 7, 2008

Estonian Dugouts

It's a surprise to find the persistence of the dugout canoe in Europe. In Estonia's boggy, swampy Soomaa National Park, dugout canoe building is offered as a workshop. And it looks like a real bargain: a mere 250 Euros will buy you a 5-day program of instruction, accommodations, and meals. (Too steep? Save 50 Euros by bringing your own tent and sleeping bag.) Instruction is offered in Estonian, English, Finnish, Swedish, German, and Russian.

The Estonian version is one of the sweetest looking dugouts I've seen. As shown in the photos, the log (oak?) is hollowed to a concavity significantly greater than 180 degrees, then softened with fire (not steam) and spread apart with numerous spreader sticks, after which some thwarts are installed. Stem protrusions are left in place, and I wonder if they extend beneath the hull to serve as a keel. While most tourists will no doubt paddle them from a sitting position in the bottom, poling or paddling from a standing position is an option.

The photos are from Aivar Ruukel, a travel professional and dugout aficionado in Estonia who promotes the building courses and related trips. See his blog.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your article and Happy Holiday Bob! It is amazing how internet creates that kind of communication and connections...

    By the way, Estonian dugou canoes here in Soomaa National Park region are made of Aspen (Populus Tremula) Look also pictures at Flickr