Monday, June 17, 2019

Rolling instructor course and building class

This week has been busy and a lot of people has visited the Chapel in Vestfossen. We held the first rolling instructor course of the year and we hope to fill up another one in September. Also the second building class of the year has come to an end. Three iqyaks and four greenland qajaqs has moved out of the workshop to both Norway and the Netherlands. Amongst the participants were Jolanda from the Netherland who shoots some amazing photos. We share a couple of those here.

Rolling instructor course
Jannie did her second rolling instructor course here in Vestfossen. She is a very skilled and experienced coach. We had a great day of sharing knowledge, working with teaching how to roll at Sundhaugen, Fiskumvannet. The perfect little spot for this kind of activity. Sheltered with shallow water. 12 people attended the class and seven more people came to join us as students for the trainees in the afternoon. The weather was perfect even though the water was still a little cold.

We worked all day on the water with various methods for teaching rolls. In the afternoon we had students coming to learn from the instructors on the course. It all worked very nicely and we are doing a new course in September but here we add an extra evening with a theory class first. Three people came all the way from Denmark and we also enjoyed the company of Jon David in our opinion one of the best on rolls and rope gymnastics in the world.

Qajaq building
The qajaq building course went very well. 8 exhausting and joyful days came to an end this Saturday. The proud builders are from left: Wicher, Tor, Jan, Kjell, Jolanda, Anders, Christer, Frank, Henrik and Jan Ole.

And here is the master builder :)! Happy and still a little tired.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Day 7 and 8 - end of class

Sewing continued... Here we stitch the cockpit to Martins kayak

                                                             Color samples for nylon cover

Tom, here with Jannie, is from Asker, Near Oslo. He builds a general purpose Greenland style kayak for touring on the fjord and on nearby lakes. He works as a mechanic and is soon to be retired.

Tiago wanted a hatch on his touring baidarka.

The groove in the cockpit coaming is for the sea sock.

Interior of a Greenland style kayak

Interior of a baidarka or ixyaq - note the loose footrest.

Karin dyeing her kayak

Some wanted more colorful kayaks..

Steve painting his baidarka. Jannie showing the new flag of color samples :)

For the last day, Saturday, we chose to make paddles and sea socks. 

Andreas here comes from Germany, and is the last person to be introduced here.. He lives near Köln and will use his baidarka paddling the river Rhine and lakes mostly. Here, He's working on his Greenland style paddle.

Cheers! And thanks to everyone for a wonderful week! Take care, paddle safely and enjoy your new kayaks :) Thank You!

And a special thanks to Jannie for taking a lot of these nice photos and helping out during class :)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Day 6 - covering the kayaks

Finally, the day for covering the kayaks came. To some, this is a sad moment, where all the beautiful woodwork becomes hidden to us. To me, This is the time where the kayak steps out of the shadows :)

Beautiful shapes appear.

Jørn, here is from Oslo. He normally works a IT project manager and loves to paddle. Like our Swedish friends, he builds a small Greenland style kayak, suitable for rolling and playing. 

He chose to cover his kayak with polyester/nylon fabric, to keep it as light as possible.

Frames in different stages of covering rest while we take coffee in the kitchen.

More cover is put on - both canvas and polyester/nylon.

Yesterday, coamings were sanded and hung out for varnishing.

Slow and silent work here, today. The kayak in the middle is not a kayak, but My girlfriend Jannies new canvas covered stand up paddle board :) 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Day 4 and 5 - end of woodwork.

All good things come to an end they say. Or goes to something else, one could say in this case.

Yesterday I was just too tired to write or do anything after the class had ended 8 in the evening :)

Woodwork is about over. All 8 frames are oiled, or about to be oiled at the moment. The cockpits are done, and are in different stages of sanding/varnishing.

The floor has bee swept, and the early starters, Hans Olav, Turid and Jørn, has already started covering their kayaks.

Karin and Martin come from Stockholm, Sweden. Martin works as IT project manager, and Karin works at the university as a researcher. The both enjoy long kayaking trips in Scandinavia and abroad. I met them last summer, and since they got interested in Greenland rolling, They immediately joined this class to build themselves some beautiful Greenland style rolling kayaks.

We'll end the work early today and go to the water and do some actual paddling. Jannie and I will do some kayak safety demo, and hope someone will join and take a swim.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Day 3 - hull and rib bending

Day 3 was a beautiful sunny day :)

Having most decks nearly finished, the goal today was to get as much done on the hull as possible.

That involves stern and bow pieces, keelson and ribs that has to be steam bent.

Tiago in the picture above comes from Portugal. He's a chef, and works in a restaurant in Stord, Western Norway. He builds a baidarka for sea kayak touring. His baidarka was the first to have ribs bent today.

I'll add a few pictures of steam bending ribs tomorrow. There is one kayak to go - Steve's baidarka that is. My hands are tired, and I', totally exhausted after all this great work.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Day 2 - Building the deck

Day two started at 8 with coffee and talk around the breakfast table.

Everyone had had a good night's sleep. Kayak dreams?

The main theme today is building the deck. Most decks were shaped yesterday. Now the shape needs to be locked in position with deck beams - wooden beams, straight and curved, who are doweled and lashed in place.

Hans Olav and Turid are retired. Hans Olav built himself a nice Greenland style kayak last year, for touring in Norway. Now they build a kayak for Turid, so they can go kayaking together.
Hans Olav used to work with telecommunication. Now he and Turid spends their time enjoying life and nature in their cabin in the woods, not far from Vestfossen.

Starting before the others, they had their ribs bent this early.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

kayak building class April day 1

Today, the year's first kayak building class started :) Expectations are high. 8 people from 5 different countries has arrived. I'll try to describe i few words and some pictures, how the class makes progress, day by day.

In this particular class, We'll build 3 baidarkas, 2 general purpose Greenland style kayaks and 3 Greenland style kayaks suitable mainly for roll and play.

The people come from near and far... Different locations in Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Germany and the UK.

Steve is from Cornwall and works as an engineer. He is an amazing guy. I'm very happy he finally came to build an ixyaq. He told me he wanted to join a course for 20 years. He has a great knowledge of the Alutian traditions and Aleutian kayaks. He's a very skilled kayaker, and has paddled in Alaska serveral times. I'm looking forward to hear more about his adventures. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Baidarka racing - racing baidarka

Does anyone remember Jon David from blogpost 6 2017?

Jon David went to Greenland to compete in the Greenlandic qajaq championship 2017. He won all the races, the rolling and came second in ropes competition. He set an all-times total high score that is hard to beat.

Jon David has not done a lot of rolling lately, but he's getting more and more into kayak racing.

We have discussed building him a traditional racing kayak for a long time. Now we're about to begin.

Of course, it must be a baidarka og Ixyaq. I've built quite a few long, narrow and very fast baidarkas over the years. The greatest challenge of this one will be to create enough space inside to allow Jon David to move his legs up and down, without sacrificing the beauty and traditional look with a huge opening :)

We just had a little meeting to start planning. Jon David brought his racing kayak, and during the month we'll see if we can combine the best of two different worlds in a new kayak for him to use.

The kayaks present in the picture are from left to right: 3 year old baidarka of my making, beginning of new baidarka frame, Jon David's racing kayak with Jon David in it, 8 year old replica of an old Akun Island Ixyaq that can be seen in St. Petersburg.

...To be continued very soon :)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

King island kayak project

August last year, I was asked by a customer from London to build a King Island style kayak for him. 
I have already built him a Greenland style kayak and an Aleut style Ixyaq. I rarely build King Island kayaks, but through the years, I have built around 10 of them in slightly different styles. 

It's a challenge to get this scaled right, since the kayaks are short, wide and  has quite a (more or less extreme) V-shaped hull. After a little triel and error, I got a frame put together that looked good, and that I hoped would suit the owner.

Since it's hard to scale it right, I wanted to know for sure before I started working on the cover. So I plastic wrapped the unfinished frame. The hull was finished, I still had lots of work to do on the deck. I loaded it with some extra weight to match the owner and his luggage and tested it on the river.

All worked out pretty good. It was perfect. Keeping the length in mind, it tracked very well. With a slight edging of the hull it would turn 360 degrees with a few paddle strokes. The speed seemed OK too for a kayak this short.

So this week I worked on the cover. The owner's forst choice was heavy canvas. I also made this awesome sea sock that will keep the kayak clean and the kayaker safe.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Passing the torch

A lot of people have expressed that they don't understand why I do all the paddle building classes. It could seem as if I'm ruining my own business selling paddles :)

I'm thinking that first of all, the demand for good Greenland paddles made out of sustainable materials is nearly unlimited. The more I and others produce, the more people get to try them, and the bigger the demand.

Second, it gives me a great satisfaction to teach people the skills to produce their own. I meet very happy people who manage the tasks I give them well, and become proud of themselves. The quality of the paddles being made in these classes is good and people can have them for the rest of their lives.

This weekend I went to Struer, Denmark again to give a class. Struer is a legendary kayak factory. They made a revolution in manufacture of racing kayaks in the 1950's, and still produce a limited number of very fine veneer kayaks for special customers today.

It's a joy to work in the old factory halls with all the space, tools and beautiful old and new kayaks all over.

Again, a bunch of happy people went home with a paddle each, and many of them wanting to go on making more. I may also see a few of them in my kayak building classes in the years to come :)

Thanks a lot everyone for a wonderful and constructive time spent together. I'm just as inspired from meeting you as you may be from doing the class :) Happy paddling!

Bu the way... I'm trying to do this blog on a weekly basis now. Next week, I'll write a piece about a King Island style kayak I'm currently building.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


January is cold and dark. Perfect time to spend time indoors, doing all the desk tasks necessary to run a small company. Accounting and planning, to mention some.

I've been very productive now and then in the shop too, trying to keep up with the still greater demand for wooden Greenland style paddles from all over the world.

Alongside production, I did 3 classes on paddle making also. It's always great fun and very pleasing to be with a group of people and do something together. Most of them have no woodworking skills or experience at all. And still they all manage to make very fine paddles.

2 classes in Norway:

..and 1 in Copenhagen, Denmark:

If I did my job right, there will be some 34 ambassadors of Greenland style paddling around very soon :) Some will be followed up later with paddle technique classes.

..And then today, I finally pulled myself together and edited some clips from a 22. December Solstice paddle in 2018. Despite impatience with new software, it went OK - judge for yourself: