The Umiak

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. Fall time is such a busy time of the year for my family and I. In late August we went to a week long skills gathering that we help organize. It was a great year, with over 200 hundred folks from all walks of life learning/sharing traditional skills. Shortly after that began the wild rice season here in Wisconsin.  Every year folks go out on lakes and rivers to gather the wild growing grain.  It's a lot of fun and a bit of work too.  I intend do a posting on that when i get the pictures we took while ricing from my friend. More on that later. 

Over the years I've worked on a few wooden boats, and built bark canoes and one skin boat.  In my research I've always found the Umiak a interesting boat which was originally built with found drift wood, lashed together with  rawhide and then covered with split walrus hide and then coated with fat by northern natives in North America and Siberia. Nowadays folks all over are making these boats with nylon lashing and a nylon skin coated with some synthetic goo.  Due to the range of the original boats, the cold climate they were developed in the skin covering worked. The covering lasted about 2 years and needed to be replaced. Today these boats are made in all climates and we don't have walrus. In addition the skin covering would most likely become water logged rot quickly.  Another skin boat of interest is a Irish boat called a currach which used tarred skin and a similar  frame work. I'm sure there are or have been more around the world.

I decided on a 20 foot boat with steam bent Ash frames or ribs. I used lumber store wood for the rest. This is a down and dirty work boat, with a minimal amount of work, just were it was needed.  We wanted something that we could use under oar, sail or a small outboard motor and be big enough for all of us and our gear. When done it will weight in at about 200 lbs so we will be able to pull it up on the beach or shore. I'll be ordering the nylon for the skin within the month and most likely get it in the water the spring. I still have a bit more work to do such as putting in the seats floor boards and mast step before I can skin it.
Here's a link for more photos of some Umiaks being built Skin Boat School