Thursday, January 19, 2017

Deck Load, the Bailing Pump, muunhma-x^, muunma-x^, puunpa-x^, liivira-x^, liivri-x^, chxuusi-x^

Aleut kayakers carried bailing pumps or bailing tubes on the decks of their kayaks.  To use the pumps, the kayaker would have to loosen the string that cinched the spray skirt around his chest and push the pump down along his chest down between his legs to the bilge of his kayak.  Then he had to bend his head forward to suck up water into the pump, then stopper the bottom opening, lift the pump out of the cockpit and drain the contents of the pump over the side. I have not made one of these pumps but my experience with bottles is that when turned upside down, the contents run out, so most likely, the kayaker needed two hands to pull the pump out of the cockpit without having the water run out the bottom hole back into the bilge.
The bailing pump also had to be sized to be about as long as the distance from the bottom of the boat to the chin of the paddler.
This drawing shows the type of bailing pump or tube that is shaped the same on both ends. The tube was usually carved out of red cedar in two halves which were separately hollowed out and then mated together and held together by three or more sections of twine.
Names for the bailing tube varied from place to place and over time.  The name puunpa-x^ appears to be an adaptation from the Russian word for pump.  The Attuan names liivira-x^ and lliivri-x^ are derived from liv'er, the Russian word for siphon. The name chxuusi-x^ appears to be derived from chxu-x^, the name for sponge.  This hints that the carved wooden tube is a late invention and that in the past, natural sea sponges were used to get water out of the bottom of kayaks.
This bailing pump has a bottom and a top.  We are looking at the bottom end here.  Others were made so the top and bottom ends were both shaped the same way.

The mouth piece is to the right.
As the model shows, the bailing pump slides under one of the deck lines of the kayak.


Unknown said...

you wouldn't necessarily need two hands, or one to plug up the bottom hole. If you kept your mouth on the end you could keep the water in the pump. Try moving water from one glass to another with the a drinking straw, you can use just the suction from your mouth to keep the water in the straw.

Wolfgang Brinck said...

Good point, John. If I get ambitious enough, I might make one of these. Not sure what sort of acrobatics you would have to do to get the bottom of the tube to clear the top of the spray skirt while keeping your mouth on the tube. Some experimentation is in order.

Lou Logan said...

I made a chxuusi-x^ roughly based on II-A-3089 in the Alaska State Museum. Made from a common, untreated 4x4 scrap. It works well one handed and I don't stop the bottom. I just put my thumb over the top end after sucking in some bilge which keeps it from leaking much. It only takes a second to point the bilge end out of the kayak to drain it, so it hardly gets a chance to leak anyway. I don't blow the water out as it drains quickly enough after I remove my thumb from the top. It can be a workout on the lungs if I try to fill it completely, but I find it more interesting and less awkward to use than the modern plastic two-handed pumps (save that for wet exits and capsizes). Recommended for all skin kayakers.