Books For Kayakers
Assuming you already have Ralph’s Complete Folding Kayaker, you’ll want to eventually read many of these (you can click on the underlined titles or images to buy the books at Amazon and help defray the cost of hosting this site):
Baidarka, by George Dyson. This isn’t about folding kayaks; rather, it’s a history of the Aleutian baidarkas, or skin kayaks, the ancestor of the modern folder. It’s also the story of Dyson’s love affair with skin boats, his various projects (including a 6-passenger boat) and plans for a high-tech aluminum and nylon/hypalon boat. I absolutely love this book. A Boat in Our Baggage by Maria Coffey. Recommended by Mitch Rosenberg and by Frank Malinowski. The story of a young couple who took off a year to paddle around the world in a Feathercraft K2. Out of print as of 2/2000, but hopefully back in print soon. Exploring the Chesapeake in Small Boats by John Page Williams, William S. Portlock. While not specifically a kayaking book, this volume was recommended to me as an excellent guide for kayakers in the Chesapeake Bay area. Fundamentals of kayak navigation. by David Burch. Most of what I know about navigating in a boat I learned from this book. Unlike books designed for sailors, this book is written specifically for the kayaker. It covers everything from coastal navigation to GPS. Very complete and succinct. COMPLETE BOOK OF SEA KAYAKING, 4th Edition by Derek Hutchinson. Another good all around guide by a well known and well-regarded adventurer and kayak designer. Hutchinson is one of the modern pioneers of British sea kayaking. Alone at Sea, by Dr. Hannes Lindemann. The story of a man who crossed the Atlantic in 1956 in a standard Klepper double kayak. If that’s not impressive enough, he did it previously in a large dugout canoe! The book has been through a number of editions, and is still in print in a German published English language edition (see the Klepper West/Western Folding Boat Center section), but you probably won’t find it in any bookstores. You’ll have to go direct to Klepper West, or the Klepper North America Service Center. The current edition is a very high quality one, with 20 color plates and a number of b&w ones as well. Dr. Lindemann says it’s the nicest edition of his book yet published. I have a copy of this new edition (as well as the 1956 edition) and I am very impressed with it. Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Superior & Michigan by Newman, Dimond, Ohmann and Newman. I bought my copy Summer 1999 for my own Great Lakes paddling, and it’s put me on to a number of good spots. Guide to Sea Kayaking on Lakes Huron, Erie & Ontario by Newman, Dimond and Ohmann Just out (Spring 2000). Lots of great paddling destinations on the rest of the great lakes, as well as the Detroit River and Lake St. Claire. Isle Royale National Park : Foot Trails & Water Routes, by Jim Dufresne. An excellent guide for the kayaker traveling to this incredible park. Wish I’d had a copy when I first went there in ’68. Kayaks Down the Nile, by John Goddard. Recommended by a correspondent. Currently out of print. The Last of the Cockleshell Heroes : A World War Two Memoir by William Sparks and Michael Munn. Tales of the WW2 British Special Boat Squads and their heroic attacks on the German fleet via folding kayak. Gripping reading for history buffs. Sea Kayaking, by John Dowd. A complete manual for tourers, with a new 4th paperback edition out in 1997. I learned an awful lot from this book. I’m still studying it. Unlike a lot of kayaking writers, Dowd understands folding boats. (The July/August 1983 issue of Wooden Boat magazine has a good article by Dowd entitled Folding Boats at Sea.) Sea Kayaker’s Deep Trouble: True Stories and Their Lessons from Sea Kayaker Magazine by Matt Broze (Contributor), George Gronseth, Chris Cunningham (Editor). Suggested by some experienced sea kayaking acquaintances as a must-read for anyone planning on boating outside of protected waters. I’m ordering a copy for myself.
Sea Kayaking Along the Mid Atlantic Coast and Sea Kayaking Along the New England Coast, both by Tamsin Venn. These have been recommended to me by numerous correspondents as the guidebooks for Atlantic coast kayakers. I own both books and can’t wait to try them out. Venn is an experienced kayaker and guide with quite a reputation in East Coast kayaking circles The Voyage of the Heretiqe, by Alain Bombard. Not a kayak book, but cited by Hannes Lindemann in his book. Also recommended by a correspondent. Out of print (2/2000) The Weather Wizard’s Cloud Book : How You Can Forecast the Weather Accurately and Easily by Reading the Clouds by Louis D., Sr. Rubin, Jim Duncan, Louis D., Jr. Rubin. A long title but a very helpful book. I recently came across the copy I purchased a few years ago and promptly misplaced and forgot about. Yes, you really can forecast the weather with this book. A very handy tool for both day paddlers and expeditioners. Canoe Rig the Essence and the Art : Sailpower for Antique and Traditional Canoes by Todd Bradshaw. This looks like it’ll be a must-have for fans of kayak and canoe sailing. Qayaq : Kayaks of Alaska and Siberia by David W. Zimmerly is a new edition of a great book originally published as the catalogue of a museum expedition put together by the author with information you won’t see elsewhere. Just got my copy! See David’s web page for a full description. Fresh Air Fiend, by Paul Theroux. A collection of travel (and other) writings from the last fifteen years, many of which involve Theroux’s paddling in a Klepper Aerius I and a Feathercraft K1. Theroux is one of my favorite writers, and like many others I was influenced by his travels in his Klepper. Complete Sea Kayak Touring by Jonathan Hanson. This is the brand new 2006 edition of Hanson’s excellent book. It’s a concise, well-illustrated guide for the kayak camper. Strongly recommended. Building the Greenland Kayak : A Manual for Its Contruction and Use. Chris Cunningham has been writing articles on skin-and-fram kayak construction for years in his Sea Kayaker magazine, so it’s not surprising he’s finally put all his knowledge in a book. Mine is on order (12/02) Instruction in Kayak Building by H. C. Petersen. You won’t find this gem in local stores or at Amazon. I ordered mine from a bookstore in Greenland- see:
http://www.atuagkat.gl/booksonsale/mar99/art.htmIt cost me 125 Danish Kroner plus a further 98 Kroner shipping (that’s a total of about $25 US). It’s a complete tri-lingual (Danish, Greenlandic, English) manual in traditional kayak building by Petersen, a High School principal in Greenland who was very involved in preserving traditional Greenlandic skills.
Building Skin-On-Frame Boats by Robert Morris. I just received my copy (April 2001) after having ordered it back in November. This is the most complete and detailed book on building skin-on-frame boats yet. Even if you already own Brink’s book or the Petersen book above, get a copy of this one. It’s just full of history, detailed photos and drawings, plans, discussion, tools, steam boxes… everything you need to build a skin on frame kayak or other design.
Do you know of a good video for sea kayakers? Please let me know and I’ll feature it here.
|Kayaking in Europe. See Bill Longyard’s web site, mentioned in the Links section|
||Odyssey Among the Inuit. Those of you who’ve visited Balogh Sail Design’s web page, or read the March issue of Sea Kayaker magazine have already heard or read about Jon Waterman’s epic journey through the Northwest Passage via ski and folding kayak. Maybe you’ve seen this amazing documentary on cable TV. If you haven’t seen it, let me strongly encourage you to do so.This is an intensely personal documentary, told mostly through Jon’s narration of events as they happen and his hand held video camera. There’s none of the overly ponderous National Geographic style narration and excessive dramatization; the events speak for themselves. When Jon looks at the camera while sailing his kayak across a wide expanse of open water in a high wind and tells you that he’s more than a little scared, you believe him. When he’s stuck onshore for three days waiting for the weather to clear or for the wind to shift and clear the ice from his path, you feel his isolation and lonliness.
The journey was completed in several trips over a period of two years. Most of it was done alone by Jon sailing alone in his Klepper, but this wasn’t an attempt to set records; Jon’s aim was to complete his journey and not to make an adventure movie. At the end of his first year’s travels Jon was joined by June, his fiance’, and they sailed the final leg together in a Nautiraid Grand Raid double kayak. A few legs were done on skis. One was done on foot, after Jon’s improvised polytarp snow sled fell apart and he had to use his skis to make an improvised sled to haul his equipment. One leg was done back of a dog sled, and one crossing of a peninsula was done by dragging his loaded kayak miles over the frozen ground. (There’s a good reason for rub strips!) The longest crossing of open sea was done by hitching a ride on a sailboat with a a pair of adventurers Jon met along the way.
I learned about this documentary from Mark Balogh, who told me he gets more out of it every time he watches it. I have to agree. This is absolutely a must-own for all kayaking adventurers. (The book of this trip was released on 3/27/01 and I’m overdue in putting in a link for it… I bought my copy direct from Jon back then. A big thanks to Mark for pointing me to a source for the videos of Jon’s trip:
|Trailside: Kayak Sailing the Exuma Islands, Bahamas, recommended by Wayne Wegner. Haven’t seen it yet, but from the description it sounds like a must for Bahama-bound voyagers, and the Trailside series has a pretty good reputation.|
|Performance Sea Kayaking Recommended by a reader, and reviewed very positively in Sea Kayker magazine. I now have a copy and I must have watched it a half-dozen times from start to finish. The tape covers a wide range of subjects, including paddling strokes, basic trip planning, equipment and so forth. By no means is it a substitute for instruction and books, but it’s a very valuable adjunct to them. It features a number of well-known instructors and the photography is wonderfully clear, and helps to illustrates and better understand many techniques.|
|New York Kayak‘s Randy Henriksen has produced a video on assembling Nautiraids that he includes with every boat. Very useful, if not absolutely necessary, for the first time assembler.|
|The Art of Paddling– a two volume set (of a projected 5) of instructional videos from H2Outfitters. Reader David Walker, who recommended these tapes, was kind enoughto loan me his set to review.The two tapes cover a narrower range of topics and techniques than does the Performance Sea Kayaking tape, but in greated detail and with different emphasis. Some paddling strokes discussed in detail in these tapes aren’t found in the Performance Sea Kayaking tape. Only one roll is covered- the basic screw-type roll- but more detail is given on the physics of the roll ,and on various skills to be developed prior to rolling.
Available at http://www.h2outfitters.com/deals.html