''Comments on the Folding "Greenland Baidarka"''
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John Winters
Wolfgang Brinck
Christopher Hufford
Philip Wylie

From: John Winters:

Since the Aleuts didn't have compasses or bilge pumps and many didn't bother perfecting the roll to quite the same degree as the Greenlanders, the ridged deck was not a handicap. I have read an number of "reasons" for the ridged deck (Wolfgang is probably our best source for what might or might not be valid) but I can see no reason why it is essential given our modern style of paddling and emphasis on rolling.

The Kotzbue Sound boat (Fig 186 in Chappelle and Adney) has a flat stern deck as does the Point Barrow (Fig 187). If one is building for purely practical reasons I see no reason to adhere to the ridged deck (or any of the non functional aspects of native designs). Build what works.

The high crowned deck does not necessarily make a boat more seaworthy. One simply needs enough crown so that water will not pool on deck and this is not a lot since the boats are very rarely level anyway.


John Winters
Redwing Designs
Specialists in Human Powered Watercraft

From: Wolfgang Brinck

A few comments on decks:

Ridged decks may have more to do with storage capacity than with anything else. Under normal operating conditions, the kayak's bow rises out of the water before water has a chance to come on deck. This is true for flat decked as well as ridged deck boats. Water on deck is mostly an issue if you paddle into breaking waves. On a flat deck water rushes the length of the deck, smashes into your chest and splashes up in your face. It is the wet face which is more disconcerting than anything else. In larger waves, the force of the water can also be quite unsettling. In large breaking waves you will get wet regardless of whether your deck is ridged or flat.

There are two caveats about flattening the deck of a baidarka. The first is that you balance sail are fore and aft of the cockpit or your boat will tend to weathervane. The second is that on some traditional baidarkas, the depth to sheer, i.e. the distance between your ribs and the tops of the gunwales is so low that if you flattened the deck, you could not get your legs inside the boat. Consequently, you would have to make the hull deeper which makes for a tippier boat. When you lean a kayak, it tends to keep leaning until you submerge the rail at which point it starts offering some resistance. In a deeper boat, you have to lean farther before you submerge the roll, hence a larger range of instability. I don't know if this is a good explanation, but I know from paddling deep hulled baidarkas that they feel less stable.

Mark Rogers who teaches baidarka building classes in Whitelaw Wisconsin has his students make boats with raked cockpits, that is, higher in the front and lower in the back. This makes getting in the boat easier and it makes rolling easier. As far as I know this is an effective alteration to the traditional baidarka design. Rolling of a baidarka with a ridged deck is really not a problem. You can do more tricks with a flat decked Greenland boat, but your basic get you up and out of the water roll works perfectly fine with a baidarka.

> Well, I'd like to know if you can lay down on the rear deck while seated.

At least I can't. My coamings all are too high for this. No, I cannot lay down on the rear deck of the baidarka. I don't think anyone can. However, I can slide forward to lower my center of gravity when I roll. The most extreme case I have seen of this is an old film of a King Islander rolling with a single bladed paddle. He slipped almost completely into the kayak before rolling up, then slid upright again after the roll. Of course, my baidarkas are not big enough for that but I can lower my center of gravity a little by sliding forward. I think the key in any roll is to figure out how to keep your center of gravity low while you bring the boat to more or less upright position so you can sit up without capsizing again. I think in a baidarka you have to keep your body low over the side and back while you roll up since you can't get it low on the rear deck.

From: Christopher Hufford

I've been listening to list for awhile and while I'm landlocked in a desert... ;) I did see some baidarka designs in Long Island when I was going to college up there. Maybe this will help...

The designs I saw had a dual ridge at the points where the hatches were, sort of like sideways "Y"s around the hatches. I don't have any direct info as to how the kayaks performed, but the owners told me that the Y's were structured to take the stress and flex as the single ridge did... and they domed the hatches. Also, where the compass mounts in front of the cockpit was a removable (folding version) aluminum block that had a countersunk compass mount with a bubble and a ring guard-clamp that accommodated the skins they were using (some kind of plastic).

Anyway one design had a hole in the skins and the ring guard-clamp screwed down on it sealing it water tight. The other had a clear piece of plastic (the owners said it was harder to see through the plastic at night in bad weather. In either case they had used LEDs &/or pea lamps with a med. rechargeable battery and attached a bunch of solar cells from radio shack (yuh).

They had had a bit of trouble with compass breakage and made the mounting ring to deflect hits. Hope this helps...

From: Philip Wylie

Hendrik, Having reviewed your note and concerns over the location and operation of the hand pump this is my suggestion. Why not sell the pump. Install a foot operated pump (Alex Ferguson in NZ is the guy to talk to about this) thereby you are hands free to paddle your kayak while negotiating difficult seas and not worrying about another capsize. Alex paddles some really tough seas off of New Zealand and he also has a superb design for rudder peddals superior to the North American kind. The matter of foot pumps has come up before and I am fully persuaded that they offer the best solution while in the water.

Contributors to this page: Thomas Yost (TDY), Patrick Poirier (PPR), Gerald Maroske (GUM) and Hendrik Maroske (HHM)