This years winter holiday was spent indoors – and what a holiday it was! I had the chance to join a group of skin-on-frame kayak builders under the guidance of Seawolf Kayak‘s Kiliii Fish.
I have long been fascinated in the skills, techniques and traditions of native cultures, and since I am also a kayaker this was an impassable opportunity to learn a modernized version of a boatbuilding tradition going back thousands of years.
We had an amazing eight days at a beautiful workshop in Suomenlinna – filled with long hours of woodworking, lashing, sewing, coating… Ending up with handmade seaworthy kayaks, Greenland style paddles and plenty of new skills.
Of course the tools and materials are not the same as Arctic builders had in previous centuries – instead of driftwood we have lumber, instead of seal skin we have ballistic nylon and instead of fat we have polyurethane for waterproofing. Necessary adaptations for our times.
We took the boats out for a short paddle after the build was finished, and the feeling of heading out to the freezing waters, relying on and trusting a boat I built myself was just amazing. The kayak paddled well and will surely be out with me on plenty of excursions in the coming years.
A big thank you goes to Kiliii who was an excellent and patient instructor, to Robin for setting up the course, and to the rest of our merry Finnish-Danish band of newborn kayak builders.
The finished kayak & paddle
A beautiful video of our workshop by Henrik von Martens
Pictures of the progress