The Story Of The Baidarka Continues
Four and a half years ago, I wrote two articles on the building and launching of my Shearwater Baidarka 17, a “stitch-and-glue” plywood replica of the ancient Aleut hunters’ kayak. These articles appeared in issues 43 and 44 of the club magazine – see them in the club archives on the web. The kayak has proven itself time and time again as an excellent day-tripping kayak and, for someone of my weight, a suitable kayak for up to a long weekend of touring.
It still surfs poorly in a shore break; I’m sure it has a bottom-seeking magnet in the bow because it does spectacular “enders” in fairly small surf. It still draws attention on the beach, where it has given rise to some interesting theories on primate behaviour. Who looks, who touches – it’s good bait for peoplewatching.
After about one and a half years, I was heartily sick of the leaking hatches; the only solution had been to seal the hatches with duct tape for each leg of a trip! The kayak spent about six weeks off the water for a re-fit, where it was fitted out with round VCP hatches, a new mast step which better balanced the sail’s forces, a recessed compass mount and recessed cleats, a new seating arrangement, and a second attempt at getting the deck varnish right. Also, over the years, it has given me the impetus to make other bits of paddling gear: sails; an Aleut paddle; deck bags for spare paddles, water bladder, various bits and pieces; and its own set of a dozen custom roll-top dry bags.
One of the great things about making your own kayak is that you can fit it to yourself: both to your body and to your sense of aesthetics. This kayak has been everything I wanted it to be. I can’t recommend building your own kayak any more strongly. Do it!