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Baidarka Resources

by Kirk Olsen, Gerald Maroske, et al
BooksClubs & Societies Plans & Supplies Links Videos Bookstores


Kayaks de l'Arctique
By Frédérique Claeys, Christophe Claeys, Gilles Huguenin, Loïck Bourdon

A step-to-step guide to building Arctic kayaks: Greenland kayak and Aleut Baidarka, and their paddles. It is also a skill guide to learn how to paddle those kayaks.
Size: 20x26 cm - 152 pages;   Publishing date: 2007;   Language: french
Le Canotier Bookstore

Building the Greenland Kayak: A Manual for Its Contruction and Use
by Christopher Cunningham (editor), published by International Marine, 2002

Baidarka list subscriber John Gerlach has written a review of this book.
(Click here for details, AMAZON)

Building a Greenland Kayak
by Mark Starr, published by Mystic Seaport, 2002

Brian Nystrom writes: "Mark's book details the method they use in their kayak building classes and contains many interesting variations on the building techniques of Peterson, Morris, Cunningham, et al. I would definitely recommend it as a good addition to one's kayak building library." QajaqUSA has a longer description from the publisher, read it here.
(Click here for details, AMAZON)

Baidarka by George Dyson, published by Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1986

Good coffee table book. Lots of great pictures. Lots of history, a couple chapters on construction using aluminum for a frame and heat shrinkable nylon for a skin.
(Click here for details, AMAZON)

Bark Canoes and Skin Craft of North America by Adney and Chapelle published by the Smithsonian Press, 1983

Mostly surveys of canoes by region. Several chapters on skin/frame boats. There is a detailed rolling description at the end of the book authored by John D. Heath with pictures taken by Kenneth Taylor from Scotland in Greenland 1959.
(Click here for details, AMAZON)

Qajaq: Kayaks of Siberia and Alaska by David Zimmerly published by the Alaska division of State Museums, 1986 (reprinted 2000)

Skin/frame kayak history and surveys of kayaks by region. Lots of offset tables and diagrams of traditional boats.
(Click here for details, AMAZON or here to order direct from the author)

The Aleutian Kayak by Wolfgang Brinck, Ragged Moutain Press/McGraw-Hill, 1995.

Not much history. Good book for someone who is building a baidarka. Wolfgang uses wood, canvas and twine. Wolfgang is also the founder of the Native Watercraft Society. (See below)
(Click here for details, AMAZON)

Umiak by Skip Snaith, Tina Rose

185 pages of excellent reference material and outstanding sketches. Read a complete book review by Mark Reveaux. (Click here for ordering details, AMAZON) or better yet order it straight from Skip at Kayak Way

Wood and Canvas Kayak Building by George Putz

You! Yes you! You really can build your own kayak. This is a good starting book for anyone looking to build a kayak or to learn about building kayaks. You'll be paddling within 70 hours and $200.

Putz writes engagingly, giving the reader confidence that the project is really possible, even without full size plans. The book is intended for traditional canvas, but it is easy to modify materials and methods used, even for complete novices!

The very first kayak built according to the plans and drawings in Putz's book resulted in a delightful craft which garners inquisitive and admiring looks, in addition to being a conversation starter. (reviewed by Michael O'Flynn) (Click here for ordering info, AMAZON)

Hooper Bay Kayak Construction by David W. Zimmerly

This book documents the construction of a Bering Sea style-kayak made in the community of Hooper Bay, Alaska in October and November 1976 under the direction of Dick Bunyan. Written as journal entries, the text details construction from the initial splitting of the wood to the final fitting of the cockpit lashings. Each step is illustrated with black-and-white photographs and line drawings. The author has also included detailed measurements of the kayak, a glossary of Yupik terms, and descriptions and drawings of kayak accessories. (2000) (Click here for ordering info from the author's website)

Building Skin-On-Frame Boats by Robert Morris

The bulk of the book is devoted to in depth instructions on building a West Greenland kayak, but several other skin on frame boats are covered. There are chapters on North Alaska recovery and retrieval kayaks, a Netsilingmeot kayak, a 17" by 19' baidarka, a pram dinghy, a Providence River boat a Canadian canoe, an Upper Yukon River canoe and a corracle.

Each of the boat chapters deals with slight variations on the skin on frame technology, such as using an inwale/outwale structure rather than rib mortises, or the several different methods of determining rib lengths and hull shape, or the advantages/disadvantages of various finishes. (Click here for ordering info, AMAZON)

John Brand's Little Kayak Books Vols. I, II & III.

John Winters, writes: "These are essential books for anyone with a serious interest in the original Inuit kayaks or with a desire to build a replica."
Click here to read my book review.
(Available from

Contributions to Kayak Studies (Canadian Ethnology Service Mercury Series Paper, 122). by E. Y. Arima, John D. Heath, Guy Mary-Rousseliere. Paperback (January 1992) Canadian Mus of Civilization; ISBN: 0660129132

Lots of information, line drawings and building information of many localities.
(For availability, see the Canadian Museum website) See also

A Contextual Study of the Caribou Eskimo Kayak, by Arima.

Lots of neat ethnological stuff and anthrospeak.

Caribou and Iglulik Inuit Kayaks, by Arima. Published in Arctic, Vol. 47, No. 2, June 1994, P. 193-195.

East Canadian Arctic Kayak, by Arima. Arctic Profiles, P. 187-189.

Inuit Kayaks in Canada : A Review of Historical Records and Construction, by Eugene Yuji Arima
Based Mainly on the Canadian Museum of Civilization's Collection (Mercury), 1988.

The book 'Inuit Kayaks in Canada' by E.Y.Arima complements Zimmerly's 'Qajaq' and between the two they cover all of North America. Though not as glossy as 'Qajaq' it has more detailed info for the builder along with early explorers accounts and Inuit stories. The focus is on three main types of kayaks which are the Mackenzie Delta type, the Copper/Netsilik/Caribou type and the Eastern Canadian types.
Skinboats of Greenland, by H. C. Petersen

Comprehensive book about kayaks and umiaks, building instructions need to be more detailed. For availability see Neriusaaq Bookstore.

Instruction in Kayak Building 3rd Edition, 82 pages, by H.C. Petersen, Atuakkiorfik, 2001. ISBN 87-558-0841-7. For availability, see Neriusaaq Bookstore.
The Skin Boats of Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska, by Stephen Braund. Univ. of Washington Press, 1988.
Surprisingly complete and heavily illustrated book exceeds its scholarly purpose and and could be downright inspirational to anyone with a mind to explore the possibilities of skin-covered technology for larger nautical craft.

Den Grønlansdke Kajak Og Dens Redskaber by P. Scavenius Jensen

Danish book but detailed information about the carried gear, some line drawings and kayak characteristics.


John Heath's Greenland kayak videos
A review of the Amphibious Man video.

Nanook of the North (1922)

Documents one year in the life of Nanook, an Eskimo (Inuit) and his family. Describes the trading, hunting, fishing and migrations of a group barely touched by industrial technology. Nanook of the North was widely shown and praised as the first full-length, anthropological documentary in cinematographic history. (from IMDB) (Click here for ordering info, AMAZON), also available from Kino Video.

The Wedding of Palo "Palos Brudefaerd" (1935)

The film, by the famous Greenland anthropologist Knud Rasmussen, is a semi-documentary of Inuit life in East Greenland filmed in 1932. I say "semi-documentary" because the film has a fictional plot, and European technology, such as guns, is for the most part excluded. However, the actors are all Ammassilik natives (the heroine appears in one of the plates in F. Simpson Chapman's Watkins' Last Expedition) wearing traditional clothing and paddling then-contemporary skin kayaks. The film includes scenes of hunting a bear from a kayak and closeups of the Greenland sliding stroke, but no rolling scenes, except for one unsuccessful attempt at the end.

One of my favorite scenes is a montage of a kayaker paddling alongside an umiak on the way to the family's winter quarters. I think his graceful sliding stroke, which contrasts strongly with Nanook's clumsy-looking stroke using the longer and wider East Arctic paddle, strongly illuminates some of the advantages of the shorter and narrower Greenland paddle. Another revealing scene, which belies the mistaken notion that Greenland paddles were made narrow for lack of wood, shows the Greenlanders splitting a large driftwood log into roof beams.

Sadly, kayaks are no longer made or used in Ammassilik, even as a pastime, Ammassilik being too far from West Greenland for the Greenland Kayak Club to have had any influence there yet. However, Manasse Matthaeussen, who reportedly did the stunt work at the end of the film, was able to pass his knowledge along to the founders of the club in the 1980s, providing a continuity of skill and technique lacking on the other side of the continent.

The Wedding of Palo was the first part of a projected trilogy on life in Greenland. Unfortunately, Rasmussen, who was highly regarded by the Greenlanders, died the year after the film was made, of a disease contracted in Greenland. We are fortunate that this one film survives.

(review by Chuck Holst)

(Click here for ordering info, VIDEOFLICKS)

Clubs or Societies

Baidarka Historical Society
435 West Holly St
Bellingham WA 98225

Native WaterCraft Society
515 S. 1st St. #1
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Phone (414) 291-3246

Supplies and Plans

Dyson, Baidarka & Co.
435 West Holly St
Bellingham WA 98225
(360)671-9736 (fax)

Plans (for at least two single and one double skin frame boats), kits for an aluminum frame baidarka (at least for the 5.28 meter single) heat shrinkable nylon, aluminum, hypalon, aluminum benders, 2 part polyurethane....

Walrose & Hyde
Kayak Way

"Kayak Way, in association with Walrose & Hyde, is the most complete source of fully-dimensioned kayak and umiak plans for the home builder. Our plans include details on set-up, materials selection, scantlings and construction. W&H offers two sets of kayak plans (30-40 page instruction book with each) and three sets of umiak plans."

Laughing Loon Custom Canoes & Kayaks
833 Colrain Rd.
Greenfield MA 01301
(413)773-5375 fax (413)772-3771

email address as of 12/95

Building plans for a wood strip baidarka based on the lines from one of the baidarkas in the book "Contributions to Kayak Studies". Plans include a source list, instructions, and full scale lines for stations, cockpit, and hatches. Rob Macks is the person behind Laughing Loon.

R. Bruce Lemon
P.O. Box 54A
Jacksonville NY 14854

Baidarka plans, wood framed kits, construction video, and baidarka building classes.

David Zimmerly

Author David Zimmerly's own website with information on his books and research, including "Hooper Bay Kayak Construction".

Platt Monfort
RFD 2 Box 416
Wiscasset Maine 04578-9610

Geodesic Aerolite kits and plans - mostly dories and a canoe. Heat shrinkable dacron, tape for attaching the dacron to either a wood frame or another piece of dacron

Stimson Marine
P.O. Box 1330
Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

Skin-on-frame boat designs and bow-roof shed plans. Plans and kits for a 17-foot and 18-foot kayak, and 12-foot dinghy. Boats use Hypalon-coated Nylon coverings. Visit their website // for details.
Also, see Jeff Woodall's May '98 email here of skin-on-frame plans sources, extracted from the Sea Kayaking FAQ.

Other Links

Kosterfjordens KajakbyggeriCourses and custom-built kayaks in Sweden.
Li'l Beauty A non-traditional, easy to build skin-on-frame kayak using heat-shrink Dacron as the skin. Plans available by mail.
WA1URB Kayak Non-traditional, easy to build kayak design using #10 cotton duck as the skin. Measurements and pics on-line. No plans available. All about Jim Coburn's experiences during a 10 day class at Superior Kayaks of Whitelaw, Wisconsin, taught by Mark Rogers. (Good links to other sites, too.) Forest Products Laboratory. 1999. Wood handbook--Wood as an engineering material (in Adobe Acrobat PDF file format).

CAD Software for Boat Design

Plyboats About $150 but there's a free demo
Hullform Costs $100+ for current edition, older edition is free
Hull Designer Shareware boat design software
Carene & Sailcut Robert Laine's shareware programs for boat design and sail cutting

On-Line Bookstores

Neriusaaq Bookstore (in Greenland)

International Marine

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Used Books
Advanced Book Exchange
Last updated May 9, 2009