Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Traditional Kayak Workshop Fall 2014

This year's Traditional Kayak Building Workshop was another great experience for all involved. Once again we flew in master boat builder Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayaks in Oregon to conduct this one-of-a-kind workshop.

A group of paddlers gather around the back of Savannah Canoe and Kayak, not really knowing what to expect. For the next six days students will be guided and steered under the expert tutelage and influence of Mr Schulz.

For this workshop, there are two SoF designs to choose from: A West Greenland hunting kayak and Brian Schulz’s own contemporary design, the F1.
In just 6 days students will peg, lash, stitch and carve a stack of Cedar, Oak, Fir, Ash and nylon into 6 stunning, one of a kind kayaks. The class is suitable for anyone, regardless of woodworking or paddling skill, and goes something like this...

Sunday, Day 1. Students have previously selected which kayak they want to build. The process
starts by adjusting some measurements to custom fit everybody's kayak to their particular size. No two boats are the same dimension.

By the end of Day 2, the boats are really taking shape. Oak ribs have been steamed, bent and lashed into place. Bow and stern plates have been pegged and lashed. The frame is just about ready for the skin. A traditional bonfire is prepared, and a kayak is made ready to burn in offering for the new boats that will soon be born.

Day 3 and the frames are prepped for skinning. Nylon skins are cut and draped over the boat, then sewn together. The skin is wetted down, steamed and made ready for dying. By the end of the day the kayaks are truly 'skins on frames'. Oysters are  prepared, and a keg from Southbound Brewery is tapped and put on ice.
Local muscisians take their place on the stage and the bonefire is lit.
'Up Helly Ya' shouts the crowd as the sacrificial boat sends flames and embers skyward.

Days 4 and 5 fly by in a whirlwind of dreams and mystical journeys as students, now emboldened by the fruition of their abilities, get busy on the finer details of  their spaceships. Everyone will soon be paddling their soul boat across sacred waters and into yonder horizon.

Day 6...the final day...the launch, the splash test...the moment of truth, the moment all have visualized since Day 2.
Across the blustery waters of Lake Mayer, 6 boats take flight, their translucent hulls baring the souls of those who created these free sprited craft.
Dreams have become realities. Brian Schulz's job is done and everyone scatters to the four winds.
And order is restored.

"A great and unique experience for sure; building boats with passionate group of paddlers with the help of an excellent instructor. Brian’s building process had such easy flow to it, encouraging us to be creative and build the exact boat we had envisioned. Each student left with a beautifully handcrafted, lightweight, durable kayak and traditional paddle along with great memories and experiences. "

On a sadder note.
Brian Schulz is a sick man. He has been suffering from an unkown condition for several years and is now to the point where he is unable to continue doing what he does. As with many of us in this business, he has little to none in the way of savings and health insurance.
Please see his most recent blog post here: