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Skin-on-Frame Version of the Unalaska Baidarka

Skin-on-frame version of the Unalaska Baidarka.

Shortly after I published the plans for the 1894 Unalaska Baidarka, Bill Samson wrote me about his skin-on-frame replica of the boat. He said that he worked from a pre-publication survey from master kayak draftsman Harvey Golden, author of Kayaks of Greenland: The History and Development of the Greenlandic Hunting Kayak, 1600-2000. Golden’s survey differs from Chapelle’s. Samson writes, “The Chapelle survey seems to have been done in a hurry and shows an additional stringer each side that isn’t actually there.  Harvey’s also shows a distinct turn-up of the deck ridge at the tail – There’s no evidence that this is due to collapse.  The ribs have all collapsed – fore and aft – at the keel, so the bottom would originally have been more deeply veed than the Chapelle drawing suggests.”

Pictures of the Unalaska Baidarka

Samson gave me permission to publish several photos of his Unalaska kayak. Note the wonderful bifid bow, and the string decorations at the bow. You can’t add those types of decorations to a plastic or composite boat. To me, the decorations make the boat look alive.

Baidarka Trailer

While Samson built the kayak, his friend and filmmaker Daphne Barbieri documented the process and produced a DVD about the process. Order Copies of the DVD from Daphne Barbieri.  Her email address is You need to specify the format – for the US and Canada order NTSC and these cost 15 pounds each.  For other parts of the world the format is PAL and that costs 10 pounds per copy.  Both prices are inclusive of postage.

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