Boat of Twigs

I started my latest kayak by strapping on a pair of snowshoes and heading for the shore of the Mississippi. I’ve got a spot not so far from my house where I harvest willow branches. I turn them into ribs for an Alaskan-style kayak — a baidarka to the Russians who once colonized Alaska, or … Continue reading

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The Four-Year Kayak

Here’s my daughter, Anna, with a kayak we started building back when she was in high school. She’s just about finished with college now, and we’re hunkering down to get this boat in the water. It’s probably safe to say that unlike most boat building projects, this one started with a high school philosophy class … Continue reading

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Serial Novel: Hitting the End

I’m no Charles Dickens, but like the great litterateur I’ve been laboring recently in the serial novel industry. My novella, Fatman Descends, ended yesterday with installment number 50. (Missed Fatman? You can find all the episodes in the Archive.) In case there are others out there considering a career in this racket, here’s a report on how … Continue reading

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Woodies!

Right before Christmas my wife, two daughters and I spent a night in a yurt on the edge of the Boundary Waters. The idea was to get away before the onslaught of the holidays, ski a bit, plod  in snowshoes and hang around. As it turns out, my younger girl, Anna, was born to ski. … Continue reading

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DIY

Recently I landed some sweet warehouse space in Frogtown, with the intent of putting together a kayak-building class for a few people who want to explore the roots of modern paddling. The roots of paddling, really, are about crouching on a beach amidst the black flies, building a kayak out of a few sticks and … Continue reading

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Searching for a Home

I’m coming down the home stretch in building a semi-replica of a Greenland kayak. It’s a little over 17 feet long, and just a shade under 21 inches at the beam. It’s a sweet looking boat with proportions that are generous enough for many modern Americans. I started building this boat because, well, I wanted … Continue reading

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This Kayak: For You?

Faithful readers know I’ve had a garage problem, which is to say too little garage for the number of boats I’ve made. I partially addressed that issue recently by selling off a skin-on-frame kayak. So needless to say, it’s time to start building another. After some chin-pulling over replicating a King Island kayak, I’ve decided … Continue reading

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Boats for Sale

  Time to clean out the garage again. I’ve got an itch to make a King Island kayak, but I don’t really have a place to put it. So, a sale. The brown skin-on-frame in these pictures has been sold. The red and white kayak remains for sale. It’s a stitch and glue boat that’s about … Continue reading

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Hungry Hunters

Okay, I know there is some comedy is watching middle-aged white people toss harpoons at styrofoam seals from kayaks. This is what my kayak pals and I were doing last weekend at the Traditional Paddlers Gathering in Lake Carlos State Park near Alexandria. If we were actually seal hunters, we would be some seriously underfed … Continue reading

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Another Baidarka

Okay, so I can’t stop myself. I’m finishing up the frame on another baidarka. I’ve started describing these boats as the surf skis of the native peoples. The baidarka is the kayak of Alaska. The natives took them out into the often punishing Bering Sea. They’re tough, fast and capacious boats with an eccentric appearance. … Continue reading

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