Sunday, November 18, 2012

Early morning paddling

My friend and neighbor Thomas and I has developed a concept called "EARLY MORNING PADDLING".  That is, going out on Sunday morning before it gets light, paddling for about 4 hours, and being back almost before your family has noticed you were gone. That can often make a perfect day!

We did one today, starting around 7 as the very first light came.

Coffee break at "Holtøya" - one of very few islands in lake Eikeren

We had a great paddle trip this morning. Lots of mist with rays of bright sunlight made the trip to Holtøya extraordinary spectacular. I'm very happy to have a friend like Thomas who also thinks this 20 km. trip is nice - It's like: 10 kilometers paddling one way in the middle of this fjord-like inland lake. The landscape hardly changes. Then we usually have a good stop at one of the few islands here, and then we paddle the same 10 kilometers back again. Some would call it boring - I love it!


Thursday, November 15, 2012



Does anyone else enjoy the cracking sound of a huge ash log as you drive wedges in it, and it suddenly comes apart? Geir and I had a great time splitting and carrying this log home. Suddenly the impossible task of carrying one ton of wood becomes possible, as you divide it into smaller parts.

Yesterday I recieved a truckload of completely knot-free spruce! To me worth more than gold. Great kayak and paddle materials for serveral years to come. My son Åsmund earned some money helping me to pile it up in a dry place. Together we moved 5-6 m3, or around 3 tons of wood in less than 3 hours! Feels better than money in the bank!

lengths of 4-6 meters and absolutely knot-free. In Norway this shouldn't be possible! I'm very satisfied.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kayak surf symposium in Denmark

A great weekend in Denmark!

Getting instructions from master kayak surfer Simon Hammond - does this seem strange to anyone?

Simon had never seen anyone do this with a Greenland paddle!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rolling course Dokka and SOF SUP!

In the weekend I had a great time, teaching kayak rolls in Dokka. 9 people attended the workshops, and many of them made their first roll. Weather was great – thank you all for a great weekend! The picture here says all!

My friend Geir has been helping me a bit in the new kayak workshop lately. He has been obsessed with the thought of making a SUP (stand up paddle board). Naturally, I helped him, and we more or less made one together in our spare time.

Today it was time for the first test. We wrapped it with plastic and put it on the water. Perhaps a bit small for a tall guy like Geir, but it was fun and stable. A fin would probably help tracking on the finished “board”

After a few small adjustments, we’ll cover it with canvas and paint some palm trees on it….to be continued….

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Qajaq t-shirt

Finally, My new t-shirt has arrived! For sale now via my web shop or

The print is the framework of a South Greenland kayak and the text from 1906 describes (in Norwegian) what a Kayak is: Skin and frame! The quality is really good, and of course, it is made from 100% organic cotton. Colors are black, brown and olive green.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Qajaq academy Stokkøya

Photo: Torleif Holm and his qajaq on the beach at Stokkøya

On tuesday, I started driving north to Trøndelag. It takes a day, but It's very rewarding, once you get there. I was on my way to Stokkøya for the 4. Norwegian qajaq symposium. The symposium is in the weekend, and on Wedensday and Thursday I was going to have paddle and rolling workshops with Dubside on the "Qajaq acadamy".

                      Lots of wet activity on the water. 24 people attended the workshops now.

Teaching basic rolling skills.

Bernt Marius Johnsen testing his brand new home built qajaq......

We have had two great days now, packed with activity. More people arrive now, to take part in the weekend's program.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Paddling in Denmark

At the end of my family holiday, I had arranged a good week for myself, where I planned to paddle a bit on my own. I have looked forward to this for weeks. I have often dreamed of paddling around the shores where I grew up and spent the first 20 years of my life.
After a summer that rained away, the weather suddenly seemed to lighten up. The starting point was the small village “Faxe Ladeplads”, where I share a tiny summer cottage with my sister and father.

“The light is really special and beautiful when you’re out this early.”

As the weather turned out really warm and sunny, It was essential to start really early, paddle till mid day, then have a good long siesta in the shadow, and then paddle again in the evening.
It was fantastic to be on the water around 4.30 when the first light came. And strangely, not tiring at all! It was great to be out on my own again.

“In the shadow of this big tree I had a good long siesta when the sun was highest. It had a perfect shape for backrest, and I felt like the Buddha under the tree, sitting there for hours in the shadow.”

After two days of paddling, I gave up the trip. I had had a really good time, but the sun was too warm for long distance travel. The UV index was around 6 (whatever that means?) And even though I had plenty of water to drink, and covered myself with hat, sunglasses and an old oversize men’s shirt, I still got headaches from being so exposed to the sun. I’ll go back to the cold and rain in Norway and paddle the last days of my holiday.

“4.30 in the morning. I peep out of my shelter at the most beautiful morning sky ever.”


Just before I started my summer holiday, 4 weeks ago, I moved out completely of my old workshop! Nothing left there now!  I moved one of my half finished Iqyaq at the end of June. I was really fed-up with moving all my stuff, and I thought “Hey, I’ll make a short movie clip about this kayak leaving the workshop". I have better hopes for my new workshop than the song indicates, I just like listening to “Never mind the bollocks” when I do this kind of work.

Friday, June 29, 2012

What a mess!

My last weeks have been really frustrating. On one hand, trying to do some work. On the other, trying to move all my stuff from my Workshop in Fredfoss.
Fredfoss has been my base and workshop since 2003. Alone, and together with people attending my courses we have built several hundred kayaks here. The place has provided great atmosphere for so many courses, and so many people have met here over the years.
It’s a bit sad to walk around in the half-empty rooms and move all the tons of stuff that has piled up here over the years. Today I had great help from my former apprentice, Espen, who popped by and gave a hand.
However, I usually feel sad the days before going away from home for a long period. It lasts till the moment I start the car and drive away from the house. This is probably the same. I’m really looking forward to start furnishing and working in my new workshop.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A new expedition on it's way

Unfortunetely not me, this time. But I have been fortunate to be able to help Robert and Garbo fro Hungary, planning their expedition along the entire Norwegian coast. The expedition will start.....well, as soon as the paint is dry, I guess.

Robert participated in my last kayak construction course. Garbo got an old Iqyax (kayak/baidarka) that was used on last year's expedition. We re-skinned it, and voila! As good as new. When I saw the framework of this 10 year old kayak, I almost regretted giving it away! It was perfect!

We have just pulled off the cover - Robert is working on his kayak in the beckground.

I wonder if we couldn't use the old skin for something? Suits me well

Now the paint needs to dry, and in between preperations for the expedition, sanding and painting more, the guys help me painting my new workshop - the chapel.

Otherwise, I'm filled with impressions from a week with great company, building kayaks night and day. It was the "summer's" first kayak construction course, and a bunch of GREAT people gathered in my workshop. After 8 days, they all left last sunday.

Cathrine, Juan, Svein, Jostein, Anders, Kai, Robert and Garbo - Thanks for a great week. Happy paddling!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Now it’s official!!

We have been planning for a while to buy the old church in Vestfossen and turn it into a workshop for Kajakkspesialisten. Now it’s official. Today me and my wife Hanne signed the sales contract.
The plan is to keep the building in it’s original appearance as far as possible, and use it for kayak building, courses and as a base for paddle activity on the water as well. It lies on the top of a hill with a brilliant view over the nearby water from the bell tower. It’s a charming old building made out of timber with plenty of space for all my activities. Access to the water is 200 meters away.

 Signing the contract: From left Arne Solberg, churchwarden, Arild Bogen, member of the church counsil, Hanne Wigen Thygesen, my wife and Myself.

And here's a photo of the church:

I'm looking forward to see all old and new friends of traditional kayaking in this beautiful site!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter paddling and kayak building

Easter time...

Time for holiday, spending time with the children and family. We have had some good days with fine weather and holiday. I even had a day trip with two friends in cold weather, rain and still some ice on the water. Rain feels so good after a long winter.

We also had time to work a bit on the 1885 Iqyax project. We planned some details for a video about the project, and actually managed to finish the deck.

Berndt Matre came by and picked up food for his paddle expedition that starts in May. We have discussed his plans, and I was able to help supply him with dried food for the whole trip. Berndt intends to paddle the whole Norway coast, starting in the south. He claims that my expedition last year inspired him to finally start making his own paddle dream come true. Good luck and have a safe journey!

Finally, I will spend my next week teatching kayak building skills in Trondheim. A group waits me there tomorrow, Saturday, and i have stuffed the car with tools, materials and all necessities for 9 days of intense work. Perhaps I can post something from the course on the blog during next week.....

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A wonderful trip to Rome, and a Kayak meeting…

I just came home from a 4 day trip to Rome with my two sons. 4 intense days of walking and seeing whatever is to see: historic sites, architectural masterpieces and folklore. We even got a glimpse of Mediterranean nature also!
Thanks to Claudio Rufa of Gruppo Canoe Roma, I had the opportunity to show pictures and tell about last year’s baidarka expedition. It became a great meeting, with very many equally enthusiastic paddlers and SOF kayak enthusiasts, of which some had travelled nearly 500 km. to join!! My sons had reluctantly agreed to come along to hear their father speak for over 2 boring hours L, but with a great dinner afterwards, and good company, they both agreed that this had been a very special evening to remember!  

Thanks a lot to all the great people who attended the meeting, and a special thank to Claudio and the others from Gruppo Canoe Roma for arranging it. I have very warm thoughts for all of you, and I definitely want to come back!

...Not for the first time in history, vandals from the north stand outside the city walls of Rome

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 1845 iqyax (baidarka)

This week I've had a little time to work on the new 1845 Iqyax replica that I build with my friend Alexander.

On friday it was sushi for lunch, and the chopsticks worked fine as dowels....Thanks for both lunch and valueable materials Geir!

Alex came by on saturday and did some work on the deck beams. we made grooves in them and painted the grooves blue. We don't have the slightest idea why the original was made this way, but it looks nice. We thought of using the outmost fringed part of whale baleen instead of the "hair" that was used to decorate the original iqyax inside.

I bent the cockpit coaming from a nice piece of ash, using steam to soften the wood. Alex had printed a perfect cockpit shape, and the result was perfect too.

Finally, the bow began to take shape - it looked incredibly small, but the measures are right. The sun came through the workshop windows, and the whole thing looked really beautiful. Here you see Alex lashing the deck beams to the gunwhales.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


If someone happens to be in Rome on 1. of March, please come and see my pictures from last year's great paddle expedition!

Thanks to Claudio Rufa for arranging this event!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I got an award!!!!!

Now it's official. I got the "Iqyax of the year 2011"

Michael Livingstone writes:

"Five people were nominated for "Iqyax of the year 2011", including some who have dedicated decades of their lives to researching and building these unique sea kayaks. By an overwhelming vote, your paddling of a traditionally built Unangax iqyax with a wooden frame covered with organic cotton and paddling 3063 Km. (1903 nautical miles along the coast of Norway stood head and shoulders above all other entrants. For your outstanding iqyax work, you are being awarded a Sacajawea coin by Randy L'Hedow Teton, the only living person portrayed on US currency. You are also being awarded a commemorative coin bag sewn by Glenice E Teton. You have, single-handed, done a great deal to keep the tradition of building and paddling iqyaq alive. Many generations of ancient Unangax iqyax builders are smiling down upon you."

I am very thankful for the award and these beautiful words. It is most enchouraging, and I really appreciate that. I promise that this will not be my last long iqyax journey. Building ancient craft is one thing, but we really start to learn when we actually use them also.

Thank you so much. A beautiful piece of art has come in my possesion also. It will hang on my wall and remind me to keep up the good spirit of working and paddling ancient craft.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Greenland style paddle building

Today 9 students attended a day course i Greenland style paddle building. We started at 8.30 with a plank of wood, and ended the day at 16.30 with 9 bright new wooden paddles.

It was a mixed group with many students from the outdoor studies in Bø, Telemark (my old school!). All were enthusiastic, and well skilled for the job. I really hope to see some of these people at one of my kayak building courses this year!

It seems that everyone were quite satisfied with today's work!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grenland Havpadleklubb

Kjempehyggelig møte med Grenland Havpadleklubb i Langesund i går.

nærmere 70 mennesker var møtt opp for å hygge seg sammen, og høre om Norge på langs eventyret mitt i sommer. Det ble en hyggelig aften med mye kajakkprat og padleåreprat. Blir man noengang lei?!....

Etter foredraget ble det handlet Aleutiske padleårer på harde livet.....

Formann Thor lurer litt.....

Tusen takk for en hyggelig kveld, og særlig takk til Trond Magne som tok initiativ til arrangementet!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New project

Just started my new project. A replica of an Iqyax (baidarka) collected around 1850 in the Aleutian islands, stored in the museum of anthropology, St. Petersburg Russia,  and surveyed by David Zimmerly. I got a blueprint from George Dyson many years ago.
To gain more knowledge on traditional Aleut watercraft, I need to learn to paddle faster and make more replicas. This one has been thrilling my imagination for a long time, and it’s great fun to finally start building it. It’s the most extreme specimen I know of. It’s a little more than 580 cm. long and a little more than 43 cm. wide. Good for racing, I guess.
I started today with the gunwales. The original seems to have have longitudal grooves carved in the gunwales through it’s entire length. Why? I haven’t much idea, but I figured out that the best way to learn more was to try to copy the grooves on my replica. All guessing on this issue is appreciated!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Well done!

Yesterday afternoon, the workshop was empty again. It has been a great week, with lots of activity and great company. It's both a bit sad and a great relief when all the kayaks and all the people are gone.

The course was a good one. The atmosphere was good and so was the working spirit. The Baidarkas became really good, but we should have had a bit more time in the end. Perhaps the good atmosphere was to blame?......

We let my camera take a picture every minute, and that became an amusing little video:

Gareth, Pedro, Bjørn, Bao Quoc, Erik, Audun and Håvard - Thank you so much for a great week. Keep up the good spirit and paddle safely!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kayak building course

On Saturday, I started a new intensive baidarka, or ixiaq building course. 7 great guys met, and we have been working some long days now, finishing the framework of 7 baidarkas.

This morning, all the woodworking was finished, and I was met by this beautiful sight:

(I mean Bao Quoc posing, not the kayak frameworks)!

We try to make a short movie from the course, which I will broadcast as soon as the course is finished on Sunday.

We are having a good time, everyone being really positive.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New blog

How I love when things turn normal after a holiday. New Year, work wise, means counting all my materials and web shop items, cleaning the workshop and organizing one year’s invoices.
When I planned my great expedition this (last) year, I was uncertain how the economy of my business would be. It turned out normal, even though the year in many other aspects has been abnormal. I’m very thankful about this, and it really gives me the courage to start planning some other adventure. I guess I will do the same trip over again within a few years….
Just before Christmas, Pål Zimmermann came by and gave me some crooked tree trunks. I have cut them on my band saw, and they will make great masiks, or deck beams, in the 2012 kayaks….

I really feel privileged to be able to feel such joy, just by working on a beautiful piece of wood. And to be able to call it work is nearly like winning in a lottery!
It made me think of this little video from the stone age of the internet:
At the end of the week 8 people will meet in my workshop to build a baidarka, or ixiaq each. Lots of work still needs to be done, cutting all the wood, bending the cockpit coamings, looking over the tools and so on….