Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Missing the SOF
(which I've not gotten out, yet, this season)
Having owned two (now one) skin on frame kayaks (one of which I built), I have developed a deep affection for these simple 7000-9000 year old designs. Built for stealth hunting of seals and the like, they are elegant, silent rolling machines and contain no metals or modern fittings. Paddling one immediately gives the paddler a connection with this sport's past and how and why it all came about.

If you like going to a Tailor and having a suit that fits you like a glove and is meant only for you , you will appreciate one of these one of a kind kayaks. The length is a multiple of your arm span. The boat is only as wide as the distance between your fists placed on each hip. the cockpit is as wide as your hands placed palm flat on your hip. They fit like a glove and can be just as hard to get into as one often has to hyper extent the knees to get under the Masik. This piece of wood which sits across the thighs is what makes the 40+ rolls possible.
I never forget that I came to these small boats after years in sailboats including this Han Christian 42-foot cutter. Like the skin on frame, it was a product of centuries of boat and sail design and, while not propelled by a human, crept as silent as a kayak as it's tall rig captured the win. Both were wonderful ways to be on the water. Both gave me a connection to the past. Both had their secrets and, if one was to return safely to shore, had to be handled properly. For those of us willing to learn and to take the time to perfect our skills, these silent vehicles of the sea have given hours of meditative pleasure.

Pasddle safe...

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