Chapter Five: Building the Kayaks

 

KAYAK HUNTING IN ILLORSUIT

GREENLAND

1959

Table of Contents

Chapter One  Reaching Illorsuit;  Chapter Two  Daily Life in the Village  —  Subsistence and such;  Chapter Three  Daily Life in the Village  —  Social Life;  Chapter Four  Ikerasak Village and Uummannaq Town;  Chapter Five  Building the Kayaks;  Chapter Six  Variations in Kayak Design;  Chapter Seven  Skinning the Kayaks;  Chapter Eight  The Hunting Equipment;  Chapter Nine  The Hunting Trip to Umiamako;  Chapter Ten  The Kayak Race in the Village Bay;  Chapter Eleven  The Rolling Competition;  Chapter Twelve  Re-encounters with the Kayak;  Some Final Thoughts

CHAPTER FIVE

BUILDING THE KAYAKS                                                                                       

Ken Taylor / Cameron

cameron@twinoaks.org

July 9, 2012; re-titled June 6, 2015; material on “variations” moved to Chapter Six July 21, 2015

Introduction

I think I’ve mentioned that in all the villages I visited before moving to Illorsuit itself, I took measurements and got information on some, if not all, of the kayaks.  And then in Illorsuit itself, of course, I also did so for all of the kayaks and in the greatest detail.  I can still picture the sheets of paper I did this on, the red and green box files I kept them in,

BUT, I NO LONGER HAVE THEM!!!!!!!!

I can’t begin to tell you how much I regret that somewhere along the way I lost or threw out those sheets of data.  All I can say is that for many years my career as an anthropologist became focused on Brazil.

When I returned to the States in 1981 little by little I did get back into kayaking, first with a rented Chinook and then with a Chinook-sized “skin-on-frame” that I built.  And then in 2003 I was introduced (online) to Harvey Golden of QajaqUSA.  As a result, I did my usual “Greenland slide show” at the Delmarva Paddlers’ Retreat in 2004.  And ever since then, at the suggestion and with the encouragement of members of QajaqUSA, I’ve been slowly putting together this website wishing, of course, that I still had all that valuable information.

The kayak Emanuele Korneliusen made for me

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Here it is, completed I think it was that very same day, with all its hunting gear in place as I carried it down to the shore to try it out for the first time.

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And it performed beautifully!

Part of the plan for my time in Illorsuit was, of course, to have a fully equipped kayak made for me and to bring it back to Scotland.  Already while in Uummannaq town on my way to Illorsuit someone suggested that I ask Martin Zeeb (Johan’s brother) if he would be able to do that.  And he agreed to do so.  But when he returned to Illorsuit a few days later it turned out that he was going to be working in the village store and wouldn’t have the necessary time.  He suggested that I check out an old kayak of his brother Abraham’s or, if that wouldn’t do, that I ask Emanuele Korneliusen to build the kayak.  Sakeus mentioned that it could be done in a few days work.  I went along to try out Abrahams’s old kayak but it was not in good condition and was too tight a fit for me.  Once he understood that Martin really couldn’t do the job, Emanuele agreed to build the kayak (and also a second one for John Heath), so we arranged to go and buy the wood from the store the very next day.

As well as Martin Zeeb evidently being a reputable kayak builder, if I remember right, Drever had told me that it had been Knud Nielsen who built his kayak back in 1938.  And it seemed clear that Knud was essentially supervising Emanuele’s work on my and Heath’s kayaks.  Actually, the impression I had at the time was that the job was “given” to Emanuele in part because he was a “retired” kayak hunter and one of the less well-off villagers and it would be (and of course it was) a good opportunity for him to earn some needed cash.  And, as I hope the photos clearly show, he did a beautiful job of building those two kayaks.

Please note that, over the years, there has been some confusion about how to spell Emanuele’s name.  I now have it from his granddaughter Paninnguaq that the correct spelling (as used by the Inuit themselves) is: Emanuele Korneliusen.

Meantime, Karl Ottosen had persuaded me to try his.  He was one of two men I met who had “kayak angst” (the other man lived at Uummannatsiaq).  Since that meant he’d recently had to give up kayak hunting, Karl was very keen to sell me his kayak.  But it was way too tight a squeeze for me, tho’ I did manage to get in, so I was able to refuse his offer.  After all, what Drever and I really wanted was to have one built from scratch for me!

On September 4th, I went with Hansi (who’d just been helping me make a minor repair to the bow piece of my Scottish kayak), Emanuele, and Gunnar to the storage attic to pick out the wood we would need.  Perhaps because it was late in the summer the selection was very poor.  We did find enough for one kayak and I pointed out to Gunnar that what remained wasn’t good enough to make the second kayak for John Heath.  He said he’d order some more from Uummannaq.  The supply of split willow for the ribs looked really awful but Emanuele took some off home to soak and we put three usable boards (two for the gunwales and one for the keelson, etc.) outside to measure later.  It was sold by the “English foot” the Danish foot being slightly different.  The store in Illorsuit didn’t have any coaming hoops in stock and eventually I had to buy them in Nuugaatsiaq.  These were, in fact, mast hoops as used on old style sailing boats.  Also, of course, imported from Denmark.  For some strange reason, the two I bought in Nuugaatsiaq turned out to be slightly bigger than the ones on all the other Illorsuit kayaks.  Hansi’s wife Anni who made my spray skirt (“tuitoq“) was extremely upset when she made it according to the local standard size only to find that it wasn’t quite big enough and had to be enlarged!

These mast hoops, by the way, are not just obsolete memories of a distant past.  In 2004, when I built my replica of the kayak Emanuele made for me, I had no trouble locating and buying an appropriately sized mast hoop.

Emmanuele b w rib teeth enlarged darker

Emanuele working on my kayak behind his house.  Shaping a rib.

I missed seeing how Emanuele measured the length for the ribs but he had soaked them in water for a day or two and was able to bend them to shape with just his two hands and his teeth.  [It seems that I’d been filming him with the defective movie camera as I don’t have any still color photos of him doing the work.  On the 9th I did take these few b/w with a different camera.]  Golden mentions that in some of the museum specimens he measured you can see actual teeth marks on the ribs! (e.g. KoG page 191 about kayak #18).

The kayaks, as we’re all tired of hearing, are made to measure for their owners.  So the first step was to take my measurements.  Knud and Emanuele did this by marking what they needed with blue chalk (my memory’s a bit vague on this) on a single piece of cord just a bit longer than my height.  I remember being surprised (impressed?) that all the relevant measurements were marked in that way within the same length of cord.  They then offered to make a slightly wider than usual kayak for me.  But by that time I’d been checking the fit of Ludwig’s which he was offering to lend me for me to go hunting with.  It seemed to fit me well enough, so I insisted that mine be no wider than his.

Also by that time I’d been able to try out several different kayaks  —  at Ummannatsiaq, Ikerasak, Qaarsut and at Illorsuit itself.  So I knew that I could use a little more depth than seemed usual in the hunters’ kayaks.  Just that little bit that would allow me to very slightly bend my knees.  Emanuele did provide for this  —  certainly once I’d managed to squeeze into it, the kayak was always a comfortable fit.  And yet, when I look at Winning’s drawings of the kayak nowadays I’m impressed to see how low the fore deck is.  Quite as low, to my eye, as on the village hunters’ own kayaks.  If I’m right about that, then the extra depth that Emanuele did give my kayak was in the shape and size of the ribs and didn’t affect the shape of the “masik” or the deck beams under the fore deck.  

There’s been some speculation on QajaqUSA.org about how the size of the kayak Emanuele made for me compared with the kayaks actually being used by the Illorsuit hunters.  So let’s clear up this point  —

1)   the beam or width.  Emanuele made it with exactly the same width as Ludwig Quist’s.  And Ludwig won the village race in that kayak!

2)   the depth to sheer.  At my request he did make it slightly deeper than any of the Illorsuit kayaks.  At 7 13/16 inches, however, it is only 1/16 of an inch deeper than the deepest of the Type VI kayaks in KoG.  That one is a kayak from Upernavik, collected in the 1960s (KoG page 316). 

Heath’s kayak was made to be 5/8 of an inch wider than mine and one inch deeper.

When I went to Emanuele’s on the 8th to see how the work was going, he already had the gunwales and deck beams all fitted together.  But it looked a bit too wide!  So we checked Ludwig’s and yes, mine was set to be wider.  As I wanted a typical Illorsuit style kayak, as far as possible, he narrowed it down to be the same width as Ludwig’s.  He did, however, mention that Sakeus’ and Ludwig’s were wider than most.

Emmanuele b w0000 mine lengthwise

Emanuele, using his old fashioned frame saw, with the structure of my kayak close to complete.

Emmanuele b w0000 mine sideways darker

The next day he had the ribs all in place and adjusted and was sawing out the keelson piece when the wood broke at a knot. Later that same day he had spliced it back together again over three ribs and had tied it down to the gunwales and it looked like it would be fine.  By that time he also had the side stringers lightly tied in place.

Emmanuele b w0000 mine bowDetails of the bow

Emmanuele b w0000 mine stern

Details of the stern

In these two photos you can clearly see how the ends of the keelson were shaped to extend upwards (the kayak is upside down, of course, in the photos) to meet the lower surface of the gunwales.  The keelson of Heath’s kayak is also shaped in that way. What that meant, of course, is that they had to be cut out of a fairly deep board, very much deeper than the vertical thickness of the keelson along most of its length.  That’s what I was referring to when I spoke of one of the boards we bought at the store being for “the keelson, etc.”  The piece cut out of the keelson board will have been more than big enough to provide some if not all of the deck beams.

Greenland 1959: Ummannaq, kayaks on rack.

This shows the bow details of one of the Uummannaq town kayaks.  The design is not quite the same with the keelson, gunwales, and stem piece fitting together in an interestingly different way.  Just as on my and Heath’s kayaks, gunwales, keelson and stem pieces are lashed together.  In both kayaks, this plus joining some of the deck beams to the gunwales, plus attaching the ends of the side stringers to each other are the only places where lashings are used.  Especially in this photo of the Uummannaq town kayak you can see how the ends of the side stringers were not attached to the keelson.  “If they were attached to the actual [end plates of the keelson] the kayak frame would not have enough give in rough seas” (Petersen 1986, page 27).

post Spain int ahead tilted

 photo: Greg Stamer

An interior view of Heath’s kayak which shows the lashing of (certain of) the deck beams to the gunwales.  Notice how on the first deck beam ahead of the “masik” you can see clearly how the lashings go to the forward half of the beam on the right hand side and to the rear half of the beam on the left.  “This is done to prevent torque on the deck beam; such a force can fracture the deck beams tenons” (Golden KoG, page 56).

On the 11th the weather was nasty so we agreed Emanuele would take a break from the work.  The next day was the big gale! Then a day or two when I was busy making a flysheet for the tent.

By that time the frame was close enough to complete that we took it to the village dance hall  —  a gift to the village from Rockwell Kent.  They had me sit in the still not quite completed frame so they could mark the exact positions for the knee and toe beams.

And then the three Nielsen brothers and I left for the hunting trip to Umiamako (see Chapter Nine), so I missed the rest of the building of the kayak.

Here is Duncan Winning’s scale drawing of the finished kayak.  This is the drawing which, in due course, led to the creation of the commercial Anas Acuta kayak (see below).

The kayak Emanuele made for John Heath.

The late John Heath, a noted scholar and historian of Arctic and sub-Arctic kayaks, had been in correspondence with Drever in the months preceding my trip to Illorsuit.  Drever put him in touch with me and Heath asked me, if this were to be possible, to have a fully equipped Illorsuit style kayak built for him.  So the plan was that once he had built the kayak for me, Emanuele would build another one for Heath.

Here is one of Golden’s scale drawings of Heath’s kayak, copied with his kind permission from his KoG page 314.

As you can see from the drawings, the two kayaks are almost identical.

Greenland 1959: Illorsuit, Emanuele making John Heath's kayak.

Emanuele working on Heath’s kayak behind his own house, with what appear to be very ramshackle saw horses.  He has the gunwales shaped to fit each other at bow and stern, the deck beams and ribs are already in place.  Before he began, when I checked the length of the lumber he was about to use for the gunwales it turned out to be 11 inches shorter than the gunwales on mine.  He said he could scarf on enough to make the gunwale pieces the same length as in my kayak.

A few days later, when I checked on how the work was going, I found that Emanuele was making it to be exactly the same width as mine.  Apparently, we’d had a misunderstanding. When we talked some more about it, we decided it would be better to make Heath’s kayak slightly wider than mine [I knew from letters that Heath was both taller and heavier than I].  That must explain the “extension” of the “masik” that Golden noted and shows in his KoG figure 309, on page 351.  As I’ve mentioned, he also made Heath’s kayak slightly deeper than mine.

Greenland 1959: Illorsuit, Emanuele making John Heath's kayak.

Here he’s making an adjustment to one of the ribs,

6 27 Ill. Emm John Q

and putting it back in place.  He had made quite shallow mortises in the gunwales, by the looks of them just with a knife.

6 30 Ill. Emm building John Q

Here he has all the ribs sized and positioned to his satisfaction.  So he’s now ready to attach the keelson and the side stringers.

The day my kayak was being skinned, I had checked in with Emanuele who was working in the dance hall.  He was quite upset as he’d just found out that the two gunwale pieces for Heath’s kayak were not bending equally.  Part of how he solved that problem shows in the photo below.  He’s shaped the ends of the two gunwales a little bit differently from each other.  That and his having to add the scarves to the ends of the gunwales (one clearly visible in this photo) presumably helped him get the gunwales to bend the way he wanted.

Greenland 1959: Illorsuit, Emanuele making John Heath's kayak.

One of the most well known and respected authorities on Greenland kayaks is H. C. Petersen.  He was born in Greenland and spent many years living there. His tri-lingual book Instruction in Kayak Building (1981), and his Skin Boats of Greenland (1986), are probably the two best sources we have on how to build a (west coast) kayak. 

In his book on kayak construction, Petersen describes the use of templates to determine the flare (outward lean) of the gunwales (1981, page 24).

gunwale templates two0001cyan (2)

fig 12 of Petersen (1981) at page 24 showing the design and use of these templates 

To the best of my knowledge, Emanuele did not use any such templates in his work.  I never did see exactly how he set the flare of the gunwales for either my or Heath’s kayak.  [The angle of gunwale flare (angle off the vertical) of Heath’s kayak is 16 degrees and of mine is 18.5 degrees.]  He did use a cord “windlass” pulling the gunwales together (visible in all four photos above) but the cord he used is passed around the entire gunwales, not attached just at their lower edges.  Still, even such a windless together with the usual setting of the deck beams just below the top edges of the gunwales would, of course, have put some flare on the gunwales.  By controlling the tightness of the windlass, by that alone, he may perhaps have produced the gunwale flare he wanted.

But now (that is in 2013), looking at these photos, I have to wonder if the odd slope of one of the saw horses he worked with might’ve had something to do with it.  What I have in mind is that the angle off the horizontal of that saw horse with Heath’s kayak resting on it in the above photos looks to be quite close to the angle off the vertical, i.e. the flare, of the gunwales.  Has anyone ever heard of something like this being done?

So here it is!  In Uummannaq town, ready to be boxed up and shipped to Seattle where Heath lived at that time.  I like how well this photo shows its elegant sheer.

Petersen discusses another interesting aspect of kayak design in his Skin Boats of Greenland: “The curved kayak.  this category is derived from the Greenland word ‘pequngasoq,’ the curved one … the line of the keel is sinuous … aft of the cockpit the bottom of the kayak is concave … From the side one cannot avoid noticing the sinuous lines that earn this type its name … This type is only found in the area between Sisimiut and Mannitsoq [on the southwest coast]” (Petersen 1986:48). The curve in question is in the profile or side view of the keel line close to the stern, as shown in this sketch from H. C. Petersen (1981, page 9)  —

pequngasoq sketch TODAY

The effect of this keel shape is a bit like that of a skeg in improving the directional stability of the kayak.  “Integral skeg” is one way of referring to this shape (see Golden 206, page 284).  Discussing my and Heath’s kayaks’ keel shape Golden has this to say: “Both Taylor’s and Heath’s kayaks have an unusual keel-line aft of the cockpit.  While drawing up Heath’s frame, I had initially thought I read my offsets wrong, but when I looked at Duncan Winning’s drawing of Taylor’s kayak, I saw the same keel-line as I had just drawn.  The keel rises behind the cockpit, levels out for two feet or so, and then rises abruptly up to the stern.  This keel form is similar to the pequngasoq described by H. C. Petersen … but is much subtler than more southerly examples …” (KoG, pages 349-50).

Greenland 1959: Ummannaq, John Heath's kayak frame.

This is the only one of my photos where it may be possible to see the “pequngasoq” like profile of Heath’s kayak.  By zooming in I think I can just almost make it out.

When I was building the replica of “my” kayak, in 2004, soon after having met Harvey Golden online, I noticed the same shape in Winning’s drawing.  And I wondered: did Winning make a mistake? did Emanuele make a mistake?  And then I remembered that Harvey Golden would soon be examining my work so I decided to go ahead and build it as in the drawings. Later that year, at the Delmarva Paddlers’ Retreat, I was very relieved that I’d done so when Golden and I talked about that feature of the two kayaks.

John with Illorsuit kayak

photo: Harvey Golden

This is John Heath soon after he received the Illorsuit kayak frame.  That’s it hanging above the two Alaskan kayaks with its cockpit coaming, out of position, sticking up above the gunwales.

More details about my kayak

A photo from the day, in the spring of 1960, when I showed and demonstrated the use of the kayak at Rowardennan Youth Hostel on the shores of Loch Lomond.   This could not have been more appropriate as Duncan Winning whose scale drawings of the kayak led to the making of the well-known commercial “Anas Acuta” (more on this below), he and I were both members of the Scottish Hostellers Canoe Club (in Britain kayaks were still being called canoes) and my first ever kayaking had been on Loch Lomond.

The elegant sheer of the kayak shows up well, with the characteristic Uummannaq Bay slightly raked stern.  Please note: I see that I’d put the harpoon line tray one deck thong too far forward and facing a little too much to its right (see details following the photo taken at Hellerup Harbor, below).  The use of the throwing stick shows nicely, though.

I’ve forgotten the name of the man who took this and several other photos, and kindly sent me 8 by 10 glossies of them.  If you ever see this website, I very much thank you again and hope you’ll get in touch.

 

Squeezing into the kayak with the help of a good pull on a fore deck thong.  That thong would’ve been tight originally but, even in Scotland, it was warm enough that the sealskin was stretching.  You can see one of the splices where the continuous length of thong being used wasn’t long enough to yield all four deck thongs.  In my lap are the dead eye, clasps and points of the “suspenders” for the tuilik”  full jacket.  These suspenders would be used when a kayaker was travelling or hunting, holding up the considerable length of the jacket.  The fittings, of course, are designed to allow for a “quick release” if ever the kayaker needs to roll his kayak in an emergency. 

quick release cropped cropped 0001 (2)

       Sketch of deadeye, clasps, and point from KoG (fig. 111, page 82)

I never did see anyone using a “tuilik” in that way.  And in my photos we are always using the jacket for rolling instruction and practice so the clasps that catch on the dead eye are released to open up the full length of the jacket.  On the edge of the coaming ring you can see the strips of ivory and wood that help the bottom of the jacket stay in place.  To keep yourself and the kayak watertight, the “tuilik” has to be tied so tightly around your wrists and face that for those of us who don’t have the wide cheek bones of the Inuit it’s very uncomfortable.  On the jetty, someone’s wearing my “kamit” sealskin boots.  I think it might have been Hamish Gow, a well known Scottish kayaker.


         

And, me “chest sculling/side-bracing.”  I love this photo as it shows so many details of the kayak  –  the raised seams on the decks from the sewing on of the seal skin cover; the skin patches needed to fill the gaps between the ends of the four original skins; the deck thongs and their ivory fittings; the flat or “slab” side of the hard-chine hull; the “tuilik” full jacket; the tip of the stern floating free of the water; the ivory tab piece that helps keep the harpoon in its place; the thongs on the after deck with one of two sliders in view; etc.

The hunting gear, etc. for my kayak

Meanwhile various people had been making the several items of hunting equipment for my kayak.  Johan made the harpoon, with throw stick, and paddle plus the same to go with Heath’s kayak frame.  Also he made an especially fine harpoon line tray which he and his family gave me as a gift!  Anni Møller made the “tuitoq” while Emilia Nielsen made the “tuilik,” with Enoch making the various ivory fittings for this.  I saw him at the job one day using a traditional style bow drill with one end held in his mouth.   The “avataq” hunting float was beautifully made by Karli Zeeb.  Sophia made a fine pair of two thumbed mittens for me, actually without removing the hair.  And, of course, early on in my stay Anna had made my “kamit.”  With Bearded Seal so few and far between, we agreed that there should be no harpoon line.  I already had a harpoon head someone had given me early on.  I no longer remember who made the gun bag, the white screen, and the skeg, but someone did and they completed the equipping of the kayak.

 

     

Later that year in Hellerup harbor, north Copenhagen.  Gerda and Jørgen Rølling, friends of Bent Jensen, with two of their daughters.

I’m carrying the kayak in the usual Illorsuit way, with my right arm under the “masik” and my thumb hooked over the knee bar. Because of the relatively warm weather also in Denmark, the sealskin thongs holding the harpoon fore shaft to the body of the harpoon have stretched.  Originally shaft and body would have been “in a straight line.”  Here you can see the harpoon line tray (“asalloq“) with its stout “pistol grip” leg (correctly, this time) hooked onto the third (“asallerfik“) deck thong, its remarkably flimsy left hand leg kept in place against the longish spar of wood wedged under the left end of usually three of the four deck thongs.  It’s that same spar of wood that the end of your paddle can be tucked under to help in balancing the kayak when stationary.  Also the self-supporting right hand leg of the line tray with a deep hook at its base to hold the harpoon shaft and how the line tray is canted forwards to let the harpoon line uncoil readily.  Further back, the bone tab sitting on the bulge at the end of the “masik” also for holding the harpoon in place and ready for use.  And, of course, the throwing stick clipped in place on the harpoon.  Not to mention, which surprises some people, that the harpoon is pointing backwards!  You can see how the coaming ring is attached to the deck skins with small bone pegs  –  on the inside of the coaming around the sides and front and with the skin brought over the coaming and pegged on the outside at the back.  

About the gun bag.  Here you can see how the front end of the bag is tied to the bow deck thong and you can just make out that I have the ivory hook holding the open mouth of the gun bag attached to the fourth deck thong.  BUT, that is not its correct position.  As you can see in the photos in Chapter Nine “The Hunting Trip to Umiamako,” of Tobias preparing to tow a seal he has just caught back to camp, the open end of the gun bag should be much further back, underneath the harpoon line tray.

need to emphasize that the harpoon as you see it in this photo (and in umpteen other of my photos of men actually engaged in hunting) is in its correct place and is ready for use.  During the time I was in Greenland, all the hunters that I saw (and photographed) kept their harpoons in place in this way.  The harpoons as I saw them in 1959 did not have the two hanging straps attached to the actual shaft of the harpoon that Petersen describes (1986, pages 74-76).  What they did have was one short thong with a bone button on its end attached to the throwing stick.   This allowed them to dangle their harpoons in the water for its coldness to tighten up the straps of the harpoon, while and only while they were settling themselves in their kayaks and making sure that all their hunting gear was in place and ready for use.  By going out with the hunters in my Scottish kayak, I was there to see where the harpoon was placed when they began to hunt.  As soon as they set off they lifted their harpoons into place as shown in this photo.

 

      

Showing how to throw the harpoon, at Hellerup.  And now the harpoon is pointing forwards.  As you pick it up by the throwing stick you have to rotate it, horizontally, in mid air to have it point forwards and to have the throw stick in the correct position for use.  By the way, the trim of the kayak is very slightly “off” in this photo as I do not have shotgun and rifle in place in the gun bag.

In August 2012, Duncan Winning, Bill Samson and Sue Ellcome made a visit to the Glasgow Museum Services Resource Centre and were able to examine the kayak and all its hunting gear.  I’ll use some of the photos and information they have kindly sent me in Chapter Eight, “The Hunting Equipment” and in Chapter Twelve, “Re-encounters with the Kayak.”  [Meanwhile, this photo to reassure us all that, as of that date, the kayak was “alive and well.”]

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photo: Bill Samson

More about Heath’s kayak

In Chapter Seven “Skinning the Kayaks,” I describe how there were not enough of the needed Harp Seal skins in the village and I was only able to accumulate the four skins needed for one kayak by buying two skins at Nuugaatsiaq.  And at that, it was only a few days before I had to leave that we got hold of the fourth skin and were able to quickly sew the four skins together end to end and get them sewn on to the kayak frame and so complete “my” kayak.  That being so, it was not possible to skin Heath’s kayak and he ended up receiving just the kayak frame or skeleton plus a harpoon (and throwing stick) and a paddle.

I’ve mentioned that his kayak is one of the 18 Type VI  kayaks analysed in Golden’s KoG (as # 72).  At the end of his discussion he says: “Because Heath’s kayak never made it to the water, I thought it would be fitting to see to it that a replica of it did.”

Harv's repl John's kayak 2

photo: Harvey Golden

The completed frame of the replica Golden made of Heath’s kayak.  As he explains on his web site “www.traditionalkayaks.com” the wood he used for the gunwales was recycled from another project.

 

photo: Harvey Golden

Golden’s replica of Heath’s kayak, ready for the water …

photo: Kathy Tucker

and, very successfully, in the water (Golden is performing an elegant side scull).

He was pleased with it: “Despite this kayak being an augmented version of the typical Illorsuit hunting kayak, it performed superbly and it didn’t feel particularly big to me.  It is voluminous, but at the waterline is not particularly wide, so feels nimble”  (KoG, page 354).

Heath’s kayak is now being looked after by Greg Stamer of QajaqUSA.  Here are two recent photos showing what good shape it’s still in.

IMG_1980 (2)

photo: Greg Stamer

Heath‘s kayak, looking from the stern towards the bow, as of January 2013

IMG_2006a (2)

photo: Greg Stamer

And again, from bow to stern, also as of January 2013.

The Emanuele Korneliusen kayak and the Anas Acuta

When I left Scotland and went to study anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, I left the kayak with Joe Reid and Duncan Winning.  In due course Winning made measured, scale drawings of the kayak.  He very generously sent copies of these drawings to several people he knew in the British kayaking community and also made them available to anyone for the asking.  The story of how this led to the creation of the internationally well known, commercial Anas Acuta kayak is told in his article “Ken Taylor’s Kayak.  The Origins of Modern Greenland-style Kayaks” in the December 2008 issue of Sea Kayaker.  About the influence of the kayak Emanuele built for me, Winning says: “… I produced a drawing which has given rise to a large number of semi-replicas, … at least four commercial Greenland-style hard-chined kayaks, and a number of round bilge designs, all with a connection to the [Illorsuit] kayak.  … The Anas Acuta is one of the better-known offspring.”

Photo taken at the 2004 Delmarva Paddlers Retreat of an Anas Acuta and the replica I built that year from Winning’s drawings   —

 photo: Greg Stamer 


photo: courtesy of QajaqUSA

Again at Delmarva 2004, just after I’d finally launched the replica.  That’s Harvey Golden keeping an eye on me (I hadn’t been in so tippy a kayak for many years).

 

photo: courtesy of QajaqUSA

A group photo at Delmarva 2004.  From the left, that’s Harvey Golden again, Dan Segal one of the Walden Pond self-named “Pond Scum,” Richard Nonas who I thank for his encouragement in the Introduction to Chapter One, myself, Vernon Doucette who converted almost all of the color slides to digital images, cleaned of mold, Greg Stamer who now has care of “Heath’s kayak,” Will Bigelow, also of the Pond Scum, and Pavia Lumholt, a Dane whose mother is a Greenlander.

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