January 2000 Baidarka Building Class

The Fort Ross Interpretive Association sponsored a week-long Baidarka Workshop by master builder R. Bruce Lemon on January 8th through 16th. (Baidarka is the Russian word for a traditional Aleut skin covered kayak). The class took place at beautiful Stillwater Cove Ranch 3.5 miles north of Fort Ross State Historic Park.

Click on any of the small images below to see a full sized image:

Here is a picture of the old barn in which we are building our skin kayaks. The barn was built in 1875 and is on the grounds of the Stillwater Cove Ranch. Behind the barn from this angle is the Pacific Ocean and just to the left is Stillwater Cove where these boats may well be tried out the first time.


You are visitor number  since January 13th 2000.

Introducing the students

Dave drove down from Redmond Washington to attend this class. He has built stitch-and-glue wooden kayaks before.
Jerry lives on the grounds of the Stillwater Cove Ranch. We are building the kayaks in his barn, which was cleared out specially for this event.
John lives nearby and is a director of the Fort Ross Interperative Association. He is organizing us to paddle our boats to the Fort Ross Living History Day this July. He and Jerry are building one boat together.
Ken drove up from Oakland to attend this class. He is president of BASK (the Bay Area Sea Kayakers) and when he finishes this boat he will own 18 kayaks.
Mike lives in nearby Cazadero and cannot beleive his luck that this class ended up so close by. He is secretary of BASK and promices that his baidarka will see exciting times on the ocean.

Our instructor Bruce Lemon.

Now that we are done, I'm re-arranging the pictures into chronological order. (During construction the most recent images were always first).

Day one and two

By the end of the second day, the gunwhales and keel are together and it it starting to look like a boat! That's John planing the bow down in the third picture below.

Day 3

Ken inspecting the lines, lashing the bow, and setting the tail piece.
Jerry lashing the bow. His baidarka is starting to look like a boat!
Our instructor, Bruce, Setting the ribs:

Day 4


After a difficult time adjusting the ribs, we spent all day and half the night lashing the stringers to the ribs.
Left to right "sewing wood" here is Dave, Ken, Mike, and Dave again.

Day Five

Today we finished lashing the ribs. The boats were turned right-side up so we could cut and fit the ridge poles and lash them on as you see Dave doing here.
We knotched the coaming and got ready to install it tomorrow.

Day Six

First we attached the coaming and lashed the floor-boards in place.
Then we draped the "skin" over the frames and stapled it on half way around.

We cut the skin to fit and stiched it together across the ridge.
The boats look nearly done now and are quite attractive inside and out!

Day Seven

Today we started by sewing the stern together. Then we sewed the skin around the slot in the prow.
We stitched the skin to the coaming. And finally glued a lip onto the coaming.

Day Eight

First we finished the coaming and cleaned up the boats for painting.
We took the boats outside for the first coat, then had to take them back inside before it rained on our second coat.
After the third coat, we had a pot luck dinner to celebrate the end of the class, then took a bunch of people out to see the boats after dark.

All text and images Copyright © 2004 by Mike Higgins / contact