Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The urban baidarka

This year at culture camp, we built an urban kayak. The idea for this boat was hatched by Mike Livingston. The premise was that a modern Aleut living in an apartment in Anchorage would not have access to a whole bunch of wood working tools but might still want to build a baidarka, an iqyax^. The challenge was to come up with a list of materials that we could pick up at a home supply store like Loew's or Home Depot and without the use of a table saw be able to turn those materials into a usable iqyax^. The other idea was that in spite of the use of non-customary materials, the resulting boat would still be recognizable as an iqyax^.

The biggest challenge for making the boat was to find a substitute for steam bending the oak ribs. We settled on flexible plastic water pipe. The pipe bent nicely but not in the shape we wanted. To get the flat mid section, we inserted length of quarter inch aluminum rod in the middle. Gunwales were twelve foot red cedar one by twos. The stringers, as you can see were aluminum rod, and the stringers were attached to the ribs with cable ties.
How plastic can you get.


I was skeptical about the chances of getting a decent hull shape, but as it turned out. I needn't have worried. The shape turned out fine. And as you can see above, once the skin was on, the boat looked just dandy, hard to tell that there was all that plastic inside. Never mind that the skin was made out of plastic fiber as well.


And here we are, sewing on the skin around the square cockpit. This was not meant to be an ocean boat but more something that anyone could step into and paddle without the hassle of squeezing into a small cockpit.
In case you're wondering, one of the kids appropriated some cutoff boat skin and turned it into a mask.


And everyone who worked on the boat signed the skin.

And here's the boat with the faux sea lion hide finish. Ready to launch.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

wonderful¡¡
i´m trying to make a baidarka with PVC pipe, and i wished see your construction process.
i´d build two kayaks at the date, one strip and a roldarka, you can see in "kayakdemar.org" if you look for "strip en arosa" and "roldarka en arosa"
next step will be baidarka ¿pvc?
help me, thanks

you also could find me in:
rpmtnez@edu.xunta.es

Tim O'Brien said...

I think you could make the frame out of strip bamboo tied together or drill holes and tie it... There is endless supply of bamboo here in the Philippines.... On narrow beam kayak you could add foam collapsible outriggers for sail then pull them up for paddling... I would to see a kayak that has room to sleep.. I think it could be done and maybe add pedal power with paddle and sail..