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The West Greenland Kayak (Standard Build £2000)
This is a fast, light and sturdy kayak. Its design evolved over hundreds of years as a fit-for-purpose hunting boat capable of fast acceleration, speed, manoeuvrability and ability to handle rough seas. Its lower volume means it lacks space for stowing kit for long distance trips but it performs well for day trips and can be used for light weight camping. Having said this, one of our boats was used on a 75 day solo ‘round Ireland’ expedition in 2014. The expedition was largely unsupported and the boat carried 10 days’ worth of food and all kit required. Careful packing and frugal thinking required.
Light weight – fast acceleration, ease of portage and brilliant for lifting on to roof racks etc.
Because each boat is built to suit the customer we do not have a set weight we can provide. However, a high volume, fully fitted out 18ft boat (5.5m) with a 21 inch (53cm) beam weighs under 20kg/ 44lbs. A shorter or narrower boat will be lighter, and vise versa.
Skin on Frame boats are significantly lighter than similar sized composite boats and plastic boats. In the case above, a composite would average around 24-25kg, and a plastic boat would average around 28-30kg.
Highly responsive to edging – the single hard chines assist in carving turns.
Low profile/ low volume – reduces reaction to windage even when paddled empty.
Ease of rolling – the low volume and low profile assist in rolling and recovery.
On-deck gear storage – the flat decks allow storage behind and before the paddler.
The build process allows for the adjustment of various dimensions to amplify characteristics. Overall length, beam, depth of the hull/ internal storage volume, height of the fore deck/ increased foot room, rocker and bow and stern profile/ skeg can all be altered if required to suit the paddler’s needs.
Fast and Efficient
The best bit is around 20 seconds in!!
Your ‘built to fit’ Greenland Kayak.
A traditionally built boat has the potential to be built to be the ‘perfect’ fit for you as an individual.
However, this is a bit of a theoretical concept because it is not just your size and shape that is relevant but also the purpose you have in mind for your boat. Modern kayaks have evolved to fit a very wide range of purposes from high speed racing to spinning and leaping in white-water rivers. Traditional boats also had different designs for different purposes, from fast hunting boats to slow people carriers.
To make your boat the perfect fit the first stage is identifying your intended use.
The Greenland style boat that is the basis of the Valkyrie skin-on-frame is an amalgamation of traditional design with some modifications to add a degree of comfort for the modern paddler and to potentially increase the volume to allow for the stowage of more kit for longer tripping. However, it is possible to reverse these modifications to produce a boat that is narrower, lower in profile and therefore faster, less subject to wind and excels as a rolling boat. The perfect boat for you will be a matter of compromise!
The starting point for your Greenland kayak is your own body. Overall length is three times your arm span, the central beam is your hips plus two closed fists, the height of the deck aft of the cockpit is the length of your fist in the ‘thumbs up’ position and the small of your back will sit the length of your foot behind the geometric centre of the boat. This is the starting point from which we modify, or not, to suit your needs.
Timber: The entire frame is constructed from a combination of timbers chosen for specific attributes. The choice of timber can be adjusted if required. The gunnels and chines are Western Red Cedar chosen for light weight and flexibility, the ribs and cockpit combing are oak, chosen for strength and ease of steam bending and the ‘cut waters’ are white wood selected for strength and weight. Internal deck slats are fitted with suitable timber, usually utilising Douglas fir, or similar, chosen for strength to weight ratio.
Fixings: The frame is held together with a combination of artificial sinew lashing and the use of dowel pegs and trunnels. This system has a series of benefits. Metal fixings both rot and work loose over time, becoming weak and destroying the timber they are fixed into. Lashings and dowels are able to flex with the boat without loosening. Their ability to flex is an additional benefit since the natural suppleness of the kayak provides it with a key element of its strength and responsiveness.
Skin: The skin is a high performance heat reactive nylon. Its man-made nature ensure it is able to cope with the trials of frequent exposure to water and temperature changes and its strength ensures it is able to stand up to impact, wear and sharp edges. The skin is stretched and hand sewn, then treated with heat and steam to shrink it a little more to produce a taut wrinkle free finish. This specialist cloth is imported from Europe due to its unavailability in the U.K.
Stitching: The skin is stitched using high grade nylon thread which ensures both strong seams and resistance to degrading through exposure to the elements, which is further enhanced by the waterproofing system. Seams are double stitched using an initial running stitch followed by a whipping stitch.
Waterproofing: The skin is sealed with the application of modern flexible polyurethane. it has excellent adherence to the nylon skin, assisting in its protection, and most significantly, it remains flexible and therefore maintains its integrity. The polyurethane is imported from the USA from specialist suppliers.
Deck lines: The boats are usually finished with a single line running along the gunnel tops. This can be extended to include a wide range of variations as required. Deck lines are often a matter of personal choice so we take a minimalist stance as a standard fit.
Internal deck slats: The boat is fitted with slats in the cockpit area. Addition slatting can be added fore an aft to assist in gear storage.
Adjustable foot pegs: The traditional design has a structural beam set at the correct position for a foot brace. If desired a modern adjustable system can be added to allow the boat to be paddled by a shorter paddler, or the beam positioned to allow taller paddlers to also use the boat. Supply and fitting of the peg plate is an additional £70.00
Deck fittings: Additional timber fittings can be added to the deck lines for both visual and utilitarian purposes, such as assisting paddle storage, bracing a paddle for stability at rest/ entering exiting etc. Specific items and the cost of them depends on what is in stock at an one time.
Adjustable Skeg: This option requires the making and fitting of a Skeg box within the frame. The skeg is made of aluminium to ensure it drops and stays dropped once deployed. It is raised and lowered via a line on the deck running to a cleat behind the paddler. The addition of this feature is £130. It is clearly not a traditional feature.
Spray deck and sea sock: We use Reed Chillcheater to supply these. If required we will arrange for these to be made and supplied at their asking price.
- Skin-on-Frame Greenland Kayak. I took on an extended expedition as a personal challenge and decided to make a point of using a traditional boat and paddle. I went into it with minimal experience in a Greenland kayak but I am very glad I did. In a rough sea I’d now choose no other boat. Despite its apparent low profile and initial feel of instability I found that it has excellent secondary stability allowing a beautiful solid extended use of edging to counter the effects of wave, wind and tide . The lower deck profile catches less wind, and, although I never had to roll in anger, it rolls easily. In good conditions it tracks very well and manoeuvres well under edge. In addition to all of this it is fast, eating up the miles. I won’t be using any other boat if I can avoid it!
- After talking through the ins and outs of the Selkie John built me an ultra narrow version. He raised the foredeck to give me more leg room, fitted adjustable foot pegs and a built in keel line skeg. It took a little getting used to but the boat is a speed machine. The craftsmanship is outstanding and the finished kayak is light beyond belief