Feedback from Stein Viken, editor of the Norwegian paddling magazine

When I signed up for a Greenland kayak construction course with Anders Thygesen, I didn't really know quite what I was getting into. I had read and heard a bit about the Inuits' kayaks, and that they couldn't quite compare to our modern plastic kayaks, but I didn't know that they had so many positive attributes.
The first thing I noticed when paddling my new self-made kayak was the sound. They say that in a kayak you glide silently through the water, but you can't really avoid dripping noises from the oar on the deck. In a Greenland kayak these sounds are like music, while they sound more like a leaky tap when in a plastic kayak.
The next thing I noticed was the way the kayak moved in the water. Besides being stiff enough to padde effectively, it was also flexible enough to tackle all sorts of waves. The interaction between the kayak, the sea and myself was both surprising and wonderful, and the comfort level was very high. Already after the first trip I knew that this would be my primary kayak. After five years' use, it's still my first choice when I go out for a trip (although I still paddle wooden and plastic kayaks from time to time) and the craft has required almost no upkeep. Maintenance has been limited to washing and dry storage, plus an extra layer of paint the third year. I haven't had to patch or sew the canvas anywhere, despite having been in contact with sharp rocks and ice sheets from time to time.
The joy of building my own kayak also influences my feelings with regard to this kayak – even five years later. I've always had a relaxed attitude to objects, and never cried over lost, exchanged or sold items, but I'm never going to get rid of the Greenland kayak. It's become an important part of my life. If/when I can't paddle any more, I'm going to hang it on the wall of my living room!


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