During the last visit at the Ethnological Museum in Leiden I learnt something new about traditional kayak design. I thought the upswept bow and stern had to do with the rougher waters the West Greenland hunters paddled in - but that proved to be a common misunderstanding. In the Museum the following text was displayed along with some traditional kayaks:
"...Kayaks are different from region to region. Kayaks from West Greenland have bows and sterns that curl up. The kayak from East Greenland is the flattest. That was first attributed to environmental factors, but a researcher recently discovered that the protruding points disappeared everywhere when weapons arrived. With guns, hunters sometimes shot through the point of their kayak and went down. Spears and harpoons are thrown overhead, high over the bow. When guns came into general use, the West Greenland Kayak was already less in use, so it was less influenced by that.
When hunting for narwhals, mostly in Northern Greenland, kayaks now take precedence and traditional harpoons are still used. In East-Greenland people still live from hunting plentiful seals of various species - using guns and motorboats."
Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden , 2007 -"ALS HET IJS SMELT".
Valley says the Pintail is based on the classical lines of the Igdlorssuit Kayaks, but with rounded bilge hull sections. Igdlorssuit is the old name for Illorsuit - a place in West Greenland). In fact the relationship between the Greenland Design and the Pintail is more indirect. First was the Valley Anas Acuta (a hard chined kayak - more close to the original skin boat) and later Valley rounded off the chines and added a bit of beam - the Pintail was born. In an interesting interview in Ocean Paddler nr. 5 Nigel Dennis explains how he was involved in this evolution - somehow the NDK Romany is also related.
Since this last day of the year I am the very proud owner of an Anas Acuta - the white kayak next to the faithful Kajakwoerden Pintail. I am sure I am going to have a lot of fun with this new toy in 2008!
More history of the Anas Acuta and the Pintail kayak:
Memory Lane - blog item by Douglas Wilcox
Bryan Hansel on Nessmuking.com