Why This Boat
I really wanted an East Greenland kayak. The F1 I built last summer turned out very well, and I was pleased that it was such a good and practical do-everything boat. But if I was going to build another one, I wanted something different, something weird and outrageous, something long and low-slung like the East Greenland kayak.
It is described as “a snug little boat for small to mid-sized paddlers 130-160 lbs”, “a LOW volume kayak”, where the “foot room isn’t great”. Not surprising in a boat that’s not even seven inches deep. I looked at my size 12 feet and started to have doubts.
I mocked up a box to simulate the foot room in a boat that shallow. I could point my toes enough to fit, but it was not a comfortable position. My calves were already threatening to cramp. I love the look of the East Greenland, but I could see that it was probably not the boat for me.
After consulting another builder who had made both the East and West Greenland boats, and asking Brian for his advice, I decided to build the stretched version of the West Greenland boat instead. It’s still long and low, but with a volume suited to my weight and a decent amount of foot room.
Construction was very similar to the F1: gunwales shaped between capture and spreader forms, mortise and tenon beams, steam-bent ribs. It was all familiar. Cape Falcon was out of rib stock at the time, so I bought the smallest piece of bending oak available at Edensaw, which was an 8′ 2×6. It was more than I needed, but I figured there would be some lost to trimming and aligning the grain. The wood turned out to be excellent, so I had a lot left over after finishing the ribbing.
Note to builders: The first rib is the risky one, so make a few spares. Give your steaming set-up a trial run, sacrificing a few of these #1 ribs to find the right steaming time. After you get the first rib, the rest are easy.
The biggest difference was the fitting and the masik. I wanted to use a piece of found hardwood, made from a piece whose grain matched the spec’ed curve of the masik rather than carving it out of a straight-grained block. There are plenty of suitably-curvy madrona limbs where I live, so I set aside some promising-looking pieces only to have them split badly as they dried. Bummer. I ended up carving the masik out of left-over white oak.
After laying up the oiled frame to dry for a week, I was ready to start skinning. Unfortunately, the lashings had slackened to the point that the keel and stringers could easily be pulled out of alignment. It must be some quirk of the environment since I used the same materials and process on my F1, which didn’t have the same problem. The difference was that it’s January now and I built the F1 during the summer. Luckily I had enough sinew to re-do the lashings and make everything string-plinking tight again.
Skinning was pretty much the same as the F1: the extra length of this boat compensated for not having to sew up the stems as on the F1. I used a batten to guide my stitching on both bow and stern. It turned out beautifully.
The beaches are rocky and often shell-covered where I live, so this boat was getting a heavy coating of goop. Four coats on the hull and two on the deck were enough to make the skin look like it couldn’t hold any more. Shiny! I used every bit of goop from the standard skin kit and some from the extra half-order.
I see that Brian made a video on installing a sling seat, but I chose to use the method that worked so well on my F1: floor boards. I used extra rib stock, thinned a bit to give the right amount of flex, lashed to the underside of the ribs. I find it to be as comfortable as the two-layers-of-Ridgerest method, but it has the advantage of keeping my bony butt from distorting the hull and becoming a sump for bilge water.
It’s swoopy, sleek, and shiny. I am curious to see how it paddles compared to the F1. I took care to make the ribs under the cockpit nearly flat, so this boat is a bit less v-bottomed than my F1. It’s also nearly three inches narrower, so we’ll see how the differences affect handling and stability.
On the Water
It’s a very nervous-feeling boat. Just sitting in it feels like trackstanding a bicycle. It’s also less roomy than the F1 despite being over three feet longer. The low deck requires a nearly straight-legged posture, leaning forward against the pull of your hamstrings. I might add a small pad on the back of the cockpit opening for when I need a slouch.
It goes left easier than it goes right. Uh oh. The bottom of the stern post (stern knuckle?) is ever-so-slightly crooked. I suspect it was caused by steam-ironing the sides of the skin in that area, trying to shrink out the wrinkles at the stem-to-keel transition. Brian warns against ironing anywhere except the deck, because it could melt lashings. Now I know another reason. Thankfully the asymmetry was so small that moving the plastic rub strip 1/8” off-center at the bend fixed the tracking.
Easy. Rolls feel smooth and continuous, without the “notchy” feeling that beamier boats have where they are only stable upright or upside-down. I’m having fun trying out the side-scull and balance brace, as I’ve never had a boat that is this stable on its side.
Honestly, it feels a little sticky. It could be that I had unrealistic expectations because it looks like it would knife through water effortlessly. Despite its pointy-fast looks, its waterline length is hardly different than my F1. I bet the waterline width is similar too. I’ll have to do a few long-ish runs and compare stats between the two boats.