In 1921, Norman L. Skene took the lines off of the Peabody Museum’s Southwest Greenland kayak. Those lines, drawn by Howard I. Chapelle, appear as figure 207 in The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America. The kayak is similar in length and width to the 1883 Southwestern Greenland kayak with a few differences. The 1921 kayak shows little rocker, whereas, according to Chapelle, the 1883 kayak shows about the most amount used in a southwestern style. The 1921 boat shows both less deadrise and less flare than the 1883 boat. Also, the sheer line is less sweeping than the 1883 kayak. Chapelle notes that both the 1883 and the 1921 were among the last kayaks built in the old style, which was characterized by strong bow and stern sweep. Later boats, like the South Greenland kayak shown in figure 208, had almost straight sheer lines. It almost looks like the sheer on this kayak is a cross between the 1883 kayak and the later South Greenland boat.
This kayak has a long history with backyard builders. In the June 1923 issue of The Rudder magazine, Norman L. Skene published plans for a kayak, called the Walrus, based on the lines of the 1921 Southwest Greenland kayak. George Putz, who collected the article and republished it in his book, Wood and Canvas Kayak Building, writes that the boat was popular with home craftsmen and resort vacationers. Putz used those drawings for the plans provided in his book. More recently, several builders from the Kayak Building Forum, including Mike Hanks and Bill Chelley, built Walruses in plywood, skin-on-frame and cedar strip. Several went back to the old 1921 Southwest Greenland plans to build “Skinny Walruses.” According to Hanks, the “skinny walrus” is stable, tracks well and turns easily when on edge. The high-ends ride up and over most waves. He says, “It rolls a little clunky, but is not too bad. It is quite stable right-side-up, upside-down, and on its sides.” He also notes that it’s so stable, it’s easy to stand in.
These free plans include: station and stem plans, a 3-D view and the linesplan. Because the deck beams aren’t shown in the drawings, I rounded the deck. Where Chapelle’s survey disagrees, I defaulted to the profile and plan views.
Length: 17 feet, 1 inch
Beam: 19-1/4 inches
Depth: 6-3/8 inches
Recommended Kayak Building Books
- Building Strip-Planked Boats: Nick Shade’s kayak, canoe and rowboat building book. The instructions are the best out there.
- The Strip-Built Sea Kayak: Three Rugged, Beautiful Boats You Can Build: The gold standard of kayak building books. You should own this if you’re going to build a kayak.
- Kayakcraft: Fine Woodstrip Kayak Construction: Lots of great ideas.
- The New Kayak Shop: More Elegant Wooden Kayaks Anyone Can Build: If you want to build a stitch-and-glue kayak, then this is the book to own.
Get the Drawing Package
The drawing package includes the full-sized study plan and each station and stem drawn separately on a PDF that prints full sized on ARCH D size paper (nestings). You can cut these out and glue them to plywood to cut full-sized forms. A pdf of the electronic drawing package. is available for this kayak. You can print the file on 24- by 36-inch paper on your own.
Free Kayak Plans Downloads
The free cedar canoe plans come as a pdf (free Adobe Reader required to view) that you can print off at photocopy stores.
- Free kayak plans: 1921 SW Greenland Kayak