Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mid winter activities

As for many others, the covid pandemic gives some difficult challenges. One of my challenges is uncertainty about work, and the constant pushing tasks ahead of me. Giving classes is about half the work done in my business, and that can't be done i times like these. So what else can I do then?

It has, after all been a pretty productive winter, although I haven't really been in the mood for writing about my activities. One of the beautiful thing that I CAN do is kayak building:

These beauties are built either on demand for customers, or it is my own projects, new or old. Some will hopefully be sold during springtime.

Paddle making is another great thing, and I constantly produce and ship paddles all over the world. I have shipped to Germany, England, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, and a huge bunch for my dealer in Denmark so far this year. The Greenland styles are still the main sell object in different variations. But the Aleut style paddle of my making is sure getting popular too - more and more so.

Linseed oil is still the best :)

Aleut and Greenland - a nice pair bound for Italy next week.

Another big project has been building a tools and materials section into my web shop. It is only in the very beginning phase. I do have some great materials to sell, the only problem being lack of good DIY instructions. Which led to a lot of film making earlier this winter, with following testing, altering and adjusting, and finally some very good products in my web shop and Youtube channel, suitable for re skinning your old kayak, or skinning a new one. 

Please visit my web shop and take a look at the brand new do-it-yourself kayak skinning kit. Skinning your old kayak could be a great winter project, and a lot of people has already taken the challenge with great results.

I just got 3 old kayaks from a friend. They were built in one of my very first classes 25 years ago. They are here to be re-skinned next week, and hopefully get lighter and better for the next 25 years to come.

Still good-looking after may ears of use.

The cold weather has been really intense for the last month, or since the end of December. Outside we generally have below -15 during the day and down to -20 in the night. It is hard to heat a 150 year old building with 5 meter from floor to ceiling. So working has been limited to lots of clothes, short work sessions and frequent breaks, doing office tasks in my warm office.

Jannie took this picture today. Waters are all frozen, except for a small bit where the river is narrow. The water level is record low due to the extra intense electricity production that comes with cold weather. Most houses in Norway are heated with electricity. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas from Norwegian wood paddles and The Kayak specialist

A kayak Christmas card to all our friends from all over the world.

Christmas card 2020 from anders thygesen on Vimeo.

Jannie made this Christmas card, and we came to like it a lot. On a dark night, we tried to take some photos of an unfinished kayak hanging from the ceiling. The pictures did't turn out exactly the way we imagined, but this one did. Here's another picture from the workshop decorated for the season :)

Yesterday, the 24. of December we went paddling. Carried out kayaks to the dock by the chapel and paddled a small round. December has been warm and rainy for the season. Finally, after 3 weeks absence, we saw the sun. What a joy! And like always, with high pressure weather comes cold. 

And afterwards, we burnt the calendar candle down, which in a way marked the end to a very different work year.

We wish you all a very happy and joyful holiday. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

25 years of kayak building classes

October class
The last week has been busy holding a new kayak building class. A milestone in my kayakbuilding career. 25 years of being a kayakbuilder and paddlemaker. October 1996 I did my very first kayak building class. So I now enter my 25. year.

The first class was held not far from where I live today. A group of outdoor students from a nearby university asked me if I would do a class with them. I said yes, why not?.. and on we went. I'm still in touch with one of the students, and her kayak is still going strong.

My level of frustration may have been a bit higher back then, but it all went well in good spirit and the kayaks came out real nicely. I had never imagined myself as a self employed craftsman, but it seems that is what I have become. A combination of design and archaeology. 

Present day
Today I run my business in an old chapel and have two part time employees and made a living of making traditional kayaks and paddles and got to travel the world in doing so. 

The last week has been a real treat. We've had to follow certain restrictions due to COVID-19 but apart from that, it has been great. Seven very positive and skilled students started out last Monday. They've been working real hard, and are now exhausted and satisfied with their work. Three people have returned for their second building project. My great coworkers Jannie and Audun helped out during the weekend. 4 Greenland style kayaks for slightly different purposes, one single baidarka, one double baidarka and a monstrous tripple Kodiak Island style baidarka.

We all forgot to take pictures and really just concentrated on building and having a good time. But we celebrated the almost 25 years with a huge cake (5 pounds). And we had a little glass of bubbly water. Jannie insisted! And she fixed everything. 

Last, a group photo of the class. From the top left; Thomas, Audun (employee), Adam, Riikka, Arne, Jørgen, Rune, Gard, Jannie and myself and the cake. It disappeared pretty fast!

Now Kajakkspesialisten enters a more quiet part of the season. The paddle making season. Stocking up for next years season. But first - a cold beer!

Uh... and these pictures just came back from the photo lab:

Arne holding his light weight double baidarka. His plan is kayak touring on the coast with his son.

Thomas with his triple kayak. He already has one triple from earlier, so with this, he and his wife can now be touring with their 4 kids in 2 kayaks :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020



Today, 10 years ago was the day I started my blog. I just read trough the first entries and yes, my world has changed a bit. And also...yes, my world hasn't changed much :)

The blog was created for two reasons: 

First to fill in what my website did not offer, by giving customers and other people a peep into my world. I felt like sharing some of the projects I worked around every day. I felt it was too good to keep to myself, and the few other people who would occasionally pop by.

The other reason for the blog was the Norway circumnavigation in 2011. To be able to take time off to do this amazing trip, I needed to use it for marketing of my products also. But writing a blog about the trip was quite a gamble - what if the trip went bad and I had to quit paddling after a week :(  If the kayak would sink and the paddle would break?

Well, all in all it has all been good.

I have not been the most consistent blogger, but looking back, there has been quite a lot of good stories and beautiful pictures along the way.

Today, like most days, I offer a glimpse of my work day just as it is RIGHT NOW

Paddles and tools. My old spoke shave that I bought back in 1990. It still does the job together with me, making paddles almost every day. The new "tool" to the left is what I'm being more and more dependent upon every day. I bought 3 pairs that lie around in the shop.

The present and the future... These little miniature trees may grow to be paddles and kayaks after I'm gone.

A glimpse of different projects I'm working on today: A super light rolling kayak for a customer in the foreground. Steam bending tube for making cockpits for my next (October) kayak building class.

The kitchen - coffee is on. The sign on the wall is an old embroidery saying "pray and work" This is where the altar was when my workshop served as community church some years ago.

Paddles, paddles, paddles....

A paddle takes some time to make - all the little details. These some 10 paddles are all in different stages, and I will be working on them all today - some need shaping, some need sanding, some need oil and some need epoxy reinforcing on the tips. One is all finished and need shipping. They will only stay here a short while, and will soon be on their way to  Norway, France, the US and Denmark.

As you can see, a lot of things need to be taken care of.

I'm very happy that you read my blog and hope you like it. I'm planning on working 18 more years, So I guess there will be some future reading also :)

Last picture.... New cockpit, framing a bit of history. The Oystercatcher was painted on my 2011 circumnavigation of Norway kayak. I recently re-skinned it for a friend, but I was too sentimental to throw away this bit. Maybe I'll make a real frame for it some day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A kayak a little over 8 kgs...

A kayak as light as a feather...

This spring I built a kayak that weighs a little over 8 kg's, 14 pounds. I never got to publish this blog entry. 
It's a rolling kayak, and hardly any strength was compromised. Jannie can carry it to the water herself, which makes me very happy :)

We did a little rolling training with Audun, and here they are together - the two ultra light Greenland kayaks intended for roll, play and little day trips.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Rolling festival 2020

This years rolling festival was very different from other years. First, we changed the dates and second corona hit us, so we had to make even more changes. Dubside wasn't able to leave USA and for a while we didn't know whether or not we could run the event at all. In the end we landed on an event where we cut out beginner and intermediate rolling sessions, added a paddle making class and strokes classes and had Bjørn Hesthamar doing a presentation on the Thule region in North of Greenland. So in the end it all turned out so well. The event was smaller so we held the classes 2 minutes from the Chapel on our local river. Instructors this year was Jon David Jensen, Jannie Heegaard and Anders Thygesen. 

Bjørn and Jakob. The Chapel in the background.

Jon David doing land drills for rolling.

Jannie going through fundamentals

Morning yoga with Charlotte

Advanced rolling class with Jon David.

Jon David in his beautiful skin-om-frame kayak built with Anders.

Randi rolling / Static bracing

Strokes class

The paddle making class

Bjørn Hesthamar, lives in Tromsø - loves the arctic. 

A big thank you to all the participants you give so much back to us with all your good spirits and positive energy. We hope to see you all again :). And Dubside - we missed you especially!

Yes... it's a NWP Dubpaddle :)!

Somewhere north a long the road.

Thank you from Anders and Jannie :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Back again..

4 months have gone since the Covid19 outbreak started affecting our lives here in Norway. It has been very challenging times in many ways. Most of all, economically. However, things are going almost back to normal, and so has my work and my projects.

I will try to catch up on my blog as well. I have a bunch of blog entry drafts that I never published. Simply because I didn't feel like publishing. Everything went freeze at one point, and when it started unfreezing, I've just been too busy.

Hopefully, I can start sharing some of the many exciting projects from this spring and early summer. We were finally allowed to take a little trip to Denmark last week to see the family down there. 

For now, I will just share a few pictures that Jannie took in Denmark last week. Our option down there is SUP paddling with our home made skin-on-frame/plywood boards. Beautiful moments to share...

Stay tuned... I will work on finishing my unfinished blog entries on new paddles, new ultra light kayaks, classes and more :)