Saturday, April 25, 2009

Old and New

I built the Kodiak in the living room. Owners of folding kayaks and canoes will appreciate that the obligatory "living room build" is very important. Sure, there is certainly not enough space. Yes, I nearly put the longerons through first the computer screen and later the television. But all this is worth it as you are within the comforts of your own home and, more importantly, away from the hordes of curious onlookers. While it can be very enjoyable sharing the building experience with others it is nice to make those first-time mistakes by oneself!

I am happy to say that the Kodiak is as easy to put together as its bigger sibling the Folbot Greenland II. What took time this first time around was finding all the parts that were carefully wrapped for transport. Adding the velcro for the spraydeck was also a little time consuming, but fun. All in all I used about an hour and twenty minutes to unpack and find everything, add the modifications (e.g. spraydeck) and fiddle. Fiddling with all the bits is interesting and makes for a huge distraction, so much so I failed to check the clock. I am confident that the next build will take about 30 minutes or less.

I was again impressed by the quality of the materials and the design of the kayak. The improved spraydeck which is a lot stiffer than its predecessor is very satisfactory and I would recommend that people buy this accessory. I was also impressed by the contents of the repair kit included with the kayak and feel that a lot of thought has gone into it.

I have now put together several very different folding kayaks and a folding canoe. Of the Folbot kayaks I have assembled the Kodiak is by far the easiest. I have also put together a Feathercraft Klondike. While I must admit that the Feathercraft achieves a slightly more rigid shape the effort involved, read: blood, sweat and tears, makes the assembly of a Folbot very relaxing compared.

Strangely, the more I assemble the modern folding kayaks the greater my interest in actually building a Greenlandic skin-on-frame kayak. Luckily, I find myself perfectly situated to research and attempt such a project. But while thinking of the old I am very content with the new!

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's HERE!

The Folbot Kodiak has arrived in Uummannaq!

My original intentions were to collect the kayak in a box from the Post Office by dog sledge. That may seem cool to us but it is just plain silly by Greenlandic standards! However, undeterred I created this photo op down on the sea ice where I will be starting the expedition in a little over one year from now.

Why, you might ask, have Folbot and I agreed that the Kodiak be sent so far in advance? In terms of shipping, the Kodiak has travelled by plane and helicopter to get this far. We will not get any goods shipped by boat until an icebreaker visits us sometime in May. The sea will still be frozen at this time and perhaps even into June. The expedtion will start in late June/beginning of July in 2010 and if I am going to paddle the Kodiak before then to try it out then I want to do it in good time.

So, Folbot agreed to send the kayak early and I get to put it through its paces, even during ice break up! That's always exciting.

Greenlandic hunters traveled with their kayaks strapped to the sledge in search of open water to hunt for whales. While not as slim as a Greenlandic kayak, I think I have proven that it at least fits on a dog sledge!

Thanks Folbot!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ah ... winter in Uummannaq!

This is what life is about during the winter in Uummannaq!

Hunters work hard throughout the year in all temperatures and all kinds of weather. They use boats in the period when there is no ice, roughly June to November. They then have a tricky period when the ice is forming in November and December. If they are lucky they can begin to drive dog sledges and snowscooters out to their fishing lines and seal nets from January. The ice season currently lasts from mid-January until late May.

When not working hard, many hunters are playing hard and training for the annual dog sledge races. We have recently had the Greenland Championships held in Ilulissat. Last year the championships were held in Uummannaq. Hundreds of Greenland Dogs were brought to the island. They ran here from several settlements and were freighted in with Sikorsky helicopters. There was easily 1,000 plus dogs here last year!

Dog sledging in Greenland is as much a part of the culture, especially in the North, as kayaking.

There are two seasons in this part of Greenland: kayaking and dog sledging!