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Fram Museum 1888 West Greenland Kayak Plans

Fram Museum 1888 West Greenland kayak.

1888 Greenland kayak.
1888 Greenland kayak.

When I visited the Fram Museum in Olso, Norway, I fell in love with a West Greenland kayak displayed as part of the Fram collection. The kayak is Fram number 176. Native Greenlanders built the kayak in 1888 for one of arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s colleagues after Nansen’s successful crossing of the Greenland icecap (Sea Kayaker article about the Fram kayaks). The kayak has a sweeping sheer, little stern rocker, and an extra partial chine half-way between the chine and sheer near the bow. Leather and bone decklines decorate the kayak’s deck. Plates, pegged to the boat, protect the bow and stern. The lines appear in Harvey Golden’s Kayaks of Greenland.

The lines show a concave keel and chine near the stern of the kayak, and my pictures show what appears to be a kink in the sheer near the concavity (see above). I decided that it looks like damage to the kayak, so I decided to shape the lines into a fair shape. As drawn, the kayak’s center of buoyancy is 8.325 feet from the stern, which puts it a mere 3.4 inches away from the cockpit’s back. To balance a kayak, it’s best to align the boat’s center of buoyancy with your body’s center of balance. The cockpit placement on this kayak puts the cockpit too far forward for this, unless the drawing is rotated by 0.5 degree counterclockwise — doing this makes the rocker look off. My rule of thumb for cockpit placement is to put the rear coaming riser 15 inches stern of the kayak’s center of buoyancy. This puts the rear at 7.075. Starting at the 7.075 position, a 31-inch keyhole cockpit fits into the drawing perfectly. Brian Schulz notes that his skin-on-frame version weathercocks and would need a skeg. Sometime, sliding the seat backwards helps solve weathercocking problems, so that’s my suggestions for this boat.

BTW, my Free Winter Kayak and canoe Plan Project, which this plan is part of, appears in an article by Conor Mihell on Canoe and Kayak Magazine’s website.


Length: 17 feet 10 inches
Width: 20-7/16 inches
Draft: 3-5/8 inches
Displacement: 172 lbs.
Length of waterline: 14 feet 6 inches
Optimum capacity: 140 to 190 lbs.

Fram 176 kayak

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