Construction Begins on a Umiak

Alaskan Umiaks with crew

Alaskan Umiaks with crew

Umiaks were a multipurpose skin on frame boat found across the Arctic. Unlike the kayak which shows a tremendous range in style, shape and size (and was boat of choice for hunting smaller marine mammals), the Umiaks were much more consistent and were generally used for hunt of large whales.

A driftwood frame was typically covered with bearded or hooded seal skins (larger varieties) or sometimes walrus hides while the lacing was from Harp seals.

Russ Parker with the floor ribs of the Umiak in place

Russ Parker with the floor ribs of the Umiak in place

Work has begin in our Living Traditions workshop on a 25 foot long Umiak. It will be a little more than 5 feet wide at sheer/gunwales and should have seven "thwarts" which act as seats. We hope that the final result will allow a class of 16 kids with 13 or so window seats to paddle it.

Line plans from "Skinboats of Greenland" by H.C.Peterson showing an Umiak from West Greenland. This is serving as principal inspiration in the design of ours

Line plans from "Skinboats of Greenland" by H.C.Peterson showing an Umiak from West Greenland. This is serving as principal inspiration in the design of ours

The Umiak will have concealed built-in flotation under the seats which is not easy feat in an open boat made of skin stretched over wooden framework. The sturdy frame is made from local White Cedar and Douglas Fir (BC) and covered by a skin of ballistic nylon with a traditional oil-based waterproofing.

Umiaks will have a suite of paddles. They were also propelled by sail, oars and even motor (We'll produce equipment for the non-octane methods).

Incidentally, the CCM has the remnants of a 34' Alaskan umiak in its collection. They will be stabilized for exhibition and worked into a new Arctic Traditions exhibition in the next 24 months at the Museum.