Kayak Way - Information Page

Kayak Way - Information Page

[ The Boat Page | Frame Flexibilty | Master Class ]
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Frame Flexibilty

Frame flex is one of the more remarkable characteristics of wood framed skin boats. It is achieved not only by the materials you choose, but how they are sized, used, and put together.
Frame flexibility influences a kayak's seakeeping abilities, and is a strategy for building light structures that can withstand shock and stress.
Flexibility as a method for structural survival is the willow versus oak metaphor. You either need to be incredibly strong, or go with the flow. For light kayaks, the latter course is the only avenue available.
The feel of a light, flexible kayak in a seaway is distinctly alive. Flex can allow a boat to absorb wave energy in ways that make its' passage through rough water smoother, possibly faster. The disruption of the kayak cultures by European contact has resulted in the loss of some specialized knowledge, but many builders today are working to regain this understanding. >

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Master Classes at Kayak Way
are on hold for the time being:

Thanks everybody. The Master classes over the past years have been
challenging, inspirational and fun, and that includes the hard work.
Each one of you that made the long trip out to my Orcas shop brought something unique to the process, something which found expression in those beautiful kayaks you went home with.

I've been teaching some form of boatbuilding or another since the
70's and the skin boat classes on Orcas were about as good as it gets.

Next time around perhaps I'll try something more cross-cultural,
up in Alaska...

Anyway, to my select band of graduates,
Thanks, and keep up the good work.


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Skip Snaith is a skin boat builder working in the
Alaskan traditions, active in the
current Northern and Southern skin boat revivals. He is
also a publisher (Walrose & Hyde) and best-selling
author on skin boats and boat building, and has been a
professional wooden boat builder for over 25 years.

For the past four years he has been an instrumental
figure in the growing revival of traditional qayaq and
angyaq (umiak) building among the Yukon-Kuskokwim
delta's Yup'ik Eskimo people on Alaska's Bering Sea coast.

Working with Elders, adult community members, and
school kids, Skip has been studying and teaching
qayaq-building in several mainland communities, and
also on Nunivak Island, where he was given the name
Qayista, or "Qayaq-builder". The net result of this work
so far is the establishment of nearly a dozen new
qayaq-builders in several villages, and completion of
the first new qayaqs in these villages after a four to
five decade hiatus.

Skip's Alaskan work makes him both student and
teacher. He has met with more than a handful of
surviving Yup'ik Sea qayaq hunters and paddlers,
talking informally or by in-depth interview, and has
gained a fairly detailed picture of the "nuts and
bolts" of Bering Sea qayaq use, travel and management.
In the course of this work he has examined or surveyed
several qayaqs and frames in villages that have been
unavailable for previous study.

When not in Alaska, Skip offers this same level of
skin boat training and expertise in one-on-one master
to inhabitants of the "lower 48" out of his
Orcas Island boatshop in Washington State.

He wrote two books:

Canoes and Kayaks for the Backyard Builder
International Marine of Camden Maine. 1986


Umiak, An Illustrated Guide

(Illustrated by Tina Rose)

Walrose & Hyde, 1997

and is working on some others.

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What are the latest projects ?
(last updated 12/27/04)

The KAYAK DESIGN DVD is the lastest deal at Kayak Way. We also spent two months,
July and August 2004, at a wilderness boatbuilding camp on Nunivak Island
(and got lots of video footage) which will be showing up in various W&H
publications. We hope to release Nunivak footage and an updated Sewing project
this coming year too.

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