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This section of the bibliography covers kayaks from all sections of the Arctic. It includes anthropological studies as well as how-to manuals. Trying to figure out which books to recommend is hard. If you are a serious student of the kayak, buy them all. If you are a builder on a budget, buy the how-to manual for the boat you want to build.

If you get Petersen's Skinboats of Greenland, Zimmerly's Qajaq and Arima's The Inuit Kayaks of Canada, you will have a pretty complete handle on all the kayaks that we know of. I suspect there may be a kayak or two in Siberia that wasn't covered. But all in all those three books represent a pretty complete survey of what we know.

The Aleutian Kayak,
Wolfgang Brinck.
Ragged Mountain Press, Camden Maine, 1995.

This is a how to book for Aleutian kayaks constructed of wood. For aluminum frame boats, see baidarka below. Currently out of print, although contents mostly available on this web site.

George Dyson.
Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, Edmonds, WA, 1986.

This is the book that launched a thousand baidarkas. History, travelogue and how-to build an aluminum frame kayak all in one book. Color and black and white photos throughout. Plans for a double included at the end of the book. 216 pages.

Build Your Own Sea Kayak!,
Robert Boucher.
Milwaukee Wisconsin, 1993.

Instructional video of 2 hours and 40 minutes duration. Color. Shows you how to build a Greenland kayak. Construction techniques are based on those taught by Svend Ulstrup of Denmark.

Building a Greenland Kayak,
Mark Starr.
Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, 2002.

A complete manual for building a Greenland Kayak. Mark Starr teaches kayak building classes at Mystic Seaport Museum, so we can presume that the instructions in the book can be trusted. Photos indicate that following the instructions result in a handsome kayak. Also included are instructions for outfitting the kayak and for making a paddle. An appendix supplies lines of five original Greenland kayaks. 119 pages. Black and White illustrations.

Building the Greenland Kayak,
Christopher Cunningham.
Ragged Mountain Press, Camden, Maine, 2003

This is a complete Greenland kayak building manual. The kayak produced according to these instructions resembles that in the Petersen manual. Cunningham encourages the use of jigs and various accessories to ease the building process for the first time builder. In addition, Cunningham provides instructions for making a paddling jacket, spray skirt, paddle and various other accessories. He also has a section on rolling. 193 pages. Black and white illustrations.

La Civilisation du Phoque: Jeux, Gestes et Techniques des Eskimo D'Ammassalik,
Paul-Emile Victor, Joelle Robert-Lamblin
Armand Colin, Raymond Chabaud, 1989

From what I can tell, this book was assembled by Robert-Lamblin from the notebooks of Victor. Victor had some talent for sketching and so his notes tend to be annotated sketches of all aspects of Eskimo life. The book is divided into various subject headings, of interest to kayakers in this one is a section on kayaks and their gear, umiaks, rolling techniques, how to butcher a seal & even a section on how to lay around the house.

Contributions to Kayak Studies,
E. Y. Arima, Ed.
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, 1991

The book is a collection of articles by various authors. Some of the information is historical. One article covers Aleut terms for various kayak parts. There are also some articles on kayak construction. There is even one article on how kayaks deteriorate in museums. Not all the material is relevant to a kayak builder, but there are enough lines of boats reproduced to make this a worthwhile addition to a boat builder's library. 348 pages. All illustrations in black and white.

Eskimo Life,
Fridtjof Nansen.
Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1894

This book is about the Eskimos of Greenland in general but contains two excellent chapters on the kayak and it's use, namely, The 'Kaiak' and it's Appurtenances, and The Eskimo at Sea. 350 pages.

Hooper Bay Kayak Construction,
David W. Zimmerly,
University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2001.

A new release of a monograph formerly published by the Canadian National Museum of Man. The book was probably the first to offer a detailed account of the process used to go from driftwood to completed kayak. 129 pages.

Instruction in Kayak Building,
H. C. Petersen,
The Greenland Provincial Museum, The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.

This is the original how-to book for Greenland kayaks. It is worth collecting for being from Greenland. However, Petersen was a historian moreso than a kayak builder and so the book tends to skip some crucial details that a first time builder would want to know. 82 pages with black and white photos and line drawings. Text in Greenlandic, Danish and English.

Inuit Kayaks in Canada: A Review of Historical Records and Construction,
E. Y. Arima, Ed.
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, 1987

The definitive book on Canadian Kayaks. All the text is in the front of the book followed by 46 black and white photos and lines of kayaks at the end. A must for anyone interested in Canadian kayaks. 236 pages.

Qajaq: Kayaks of Siberia and Alaska.
David W. Zimmerly.
Division of State Museums, Juneau, Alaska, 1986

Unavailable for a while, this book is fortunately again in print. Also the only palindrome in the whole bibliography. The qajaq paddles the same in either direction. I regard my copy of the book fondly since I encountered it at the beginning of my romance with kayak building. I got my copy at a rescue seminar taught by the Chech paddler and kayak importer Stan Chladek. This book is also in the must have category for any serious builder. 96 pages. Black and white illustrations.

The Skinboats of Greenland,
H. C. Petersen.
The National Museum of Denmark, The Museum of Greenland & The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, 1986.

The definitive book on the kayaks and umiaks of Greenland. History, construction techniques, hunting gear and migration patterns are all discussed. This is not, however, a construction manual. 215 pages.

The Starship & the Canoe,
Kenneth Brower.
Harper and Row, New York, 1978.

This is not a how to book but rather an anthropological study of the modern kayak builder in the person of George Dyson. The book examines the parallel quests of George the kayak builder and his father Freeman the starship designer. There's not much in this book that would help you build a better boat, but the writing is good and the story is engaging. 270 pages.

All content copyright © 2004 Wolfgang Brinck. Personal non-commercial use permitted.