Today I took my handsewn kayak to the water for the very first time.
I made it back in 2007, in a course in Norway under supervision of Anders Thygesen, the Kayakspecialist.
He has various ‘patterns’ for specific uses: long daytrip-kayaks or swift cutting through the surf-kayaks and many more.
They are all tailormade: first length is determined, based on desired main use of the kayak and your length.
Then you sit in a “toile” and exact notes are made of where your feet should be met by a beam (this is where you put pressure when you use your paddle) and how far back the entrance should be and how wide. Then it’s noted where your knees are supposed to meet a support beam (this is how you keep a kayak stable, you lock in. This is how you can roll a kayak back up when you’ve gone under).
My support beam is made of a vintage piece of oak from the forest the Danish King planted to make tall ships centuries ago. I love a bit of peculiarities in any handmade thing. Anders promotes this too. He invites you to name your vessel too.
You can just see a bit of that characteristic oak beam, in the roof of the entrance.
No screws or pins where used. They are all handmade wooden dowels.
The “ribs” were bend using steam (after laying in a Norwegian stream nearby for a night). This is the bit Anders does for you, he does this by eye and the whole hull has to be one whole, shapewise.
The fabric is regular heavy canvas, painted with some weatherproof paint. It’s the last bit to go on. First you make it into some sort of glove by sewing shut the sides and then it is pulled tightly over the frame. This takes about 5 blokes, all pulling.
Then you sew shut the last flaps and shape it properly around the tips. The seam stitches vary from flat fell and various others.
In the end a hole is cut in the middle and the entrance is made: placing the round wooden ring (this is the only bit that is glued, this and the paddle. All other wood parts are held together by dowels) and attaching the canvas to it.
Then the canvas is treated with linseed. That’s the reddish colour you see on the canvas at the inside of the wooden ring. The outside is painted with paint. (white) and I put a green coat over when I got the kayak back to Holland.