Buying a Used Skin On Frame Kayak?

Greetings All,

During my weekly Ebay scan for kayak stuff and ran across this:

Its kinda far from me, but I sometimes head up to that area - however its a bit too far to just go up there and see if it fits…

Are S.O.F. kayaks (after being built) really particular on the fit of the paddler? Ie they do not take as wide of a range of paddlers as commercially made kayaks?

Some additional info from the seller:

“…from the seat to top of coaming is 6.5”, great for layback rolls.

There are no footpegs but the is a station that is setup for my 32" inseam."

“It’s not based on any Yost boats, only his construction


It’s primarily based on Ken Taylor’s 1959 Kayak-the Igdlorssuit


am the builder and I modified the design plans so that it would fit my

dimensions at 5’-11”. My daughter is 5’-8" and has plenty of room in it.

I didn’t have any pre-conceived notions about specific use, it was simply

an exercise in boat building. I’ve built 11 boats and wanted to try a SOF.

It’s been 2.5 years since I built it.

It tracks well, so cruising up and

down the river is no problem. It doesn’t feel tippy to me or my daughter.

It rolls just fine. The coaming inside dimensions: 16.75" x 19.75"."

I am 5’5", with an inseam around 28" - probably wont fit unless I find a way to install adjustable foot braces or add in 3-4" brace extension from one of the braces?

Was thinking about building an S.O.F., and would be nice to have an example to examine when (if) I start to build one - but would be better if I could actually paddle it…


Thanks in Advance!,


most greenland boats fit like a glove
Skin boats aren’t that hard to build. I built one in my basement over a winter about 20 yrs ago. I have several friends who have built them. I recommend Chris Cunningham’s book if you want a Greenland boat.

I’ve paddled several of these
and they’re awesome boats.

And, yes, I am friends with the designer, but they’re still great boats.

I wouldn’t buy unless I could paddle it
I’d be as concerned with the deck height in front of the cockpit (masik) as behind. Trying to modify foot braces after the skin is on might be impossible. If you pad out the cockpit over your thighs and can get a good tight fit there, you don’t need foot pegs/rests. It looks like it is well made. The bottom looks fairly flat which should make it feel stable for a range of paddler weights. $250 for a kayak is a very good deal. That probably barely covers the material costs to build. You could take a chance and if you don’t like it you could probably get your money back be reselling.

Your size?
What size are you? Will you be comfortable with your legs out pretty flat? The masik is listed as 8.5". Depending on your thigh size that can be good or bad. What do you want to use it for? It does look good and the Igdlorssuit was the kayak the Anas Acuta was based on. My husband built that design as a hard shell and it is a nice kayak. For $250 it might be worth it.

Size M?

– Last Updated: Dec-14-12 11:18 AM EST –

By Size, not sure what you mean?

I'm 5'5", on the stocky side at holiday weight between 160-170 with an inseam of 28", Shoe size 7-8

The 8.5" masik might be good? - I have a hell of time wedging my thighs under my wife's Tchaika thigh braces

I don't think I would be comfortable with my legs straight - probably difficult to effectively attach an extension/block of wood to one of the ribs/frame so I can bend my legs?

For use: I am a novice paddler (finally getting around to taking recovery/rescue class this weekend) and stay mostly in sheltered water ways in South Florida (canals, creeks, bays on really calm days) - I currently paddle an Impex Seabreeze, but always thought skin on kayaks (and wood) looked really cool - will be taking greenland rolling classes in the next few months.

...I suppose $250 is not a real accurate price - add in about 100 bucks for a round trip or $60 if I can convince a buddy coming down to pick it up ;-)

Built for the paddler
A “proper” Greenland kayak is built to dimensions that are derived from various body size measurements of the intended paddler.

That is to say, they are custom.

Of course many skin boats are built to “standard” plans, and the dimensions not modified to fit a specific paddler.

So it may or may not fit you, and the only way to know is to go try it.

Having said that, it’s wood, glue and fabric. It was built and can be rebuilt or modified relatively easily.

Having said that, the cost to buy an already built boat and modify it probably won’t be any less than the cost to build from scratch.

Used SOF
SOF kayaks tend to be very unique to the particular person who built it. They can be made “steady” or “tippy” depending on whatever the builder has in mind and his / her skill level.

Most tend to be built to fit “like a glove”, so it’s unlikely that you will find this one to be a fit for your particular butt.

In most “traditional” kayaks, a deck-beam serves as the foot brace, and this is carefully determined prior to starting the build. Some of us choose to install non-traditional adjustable foot braces to make it easier for others to use the kayak. This is generally accomplished by moving the deck beam forward 4-6 inches so that the adjustable pegs will work properly. Once the boat is skinned, it is difficult to get to the foot brace to make any changes.

The kayak you are looking at is using Yost style construction, so it’s not going to be a good example to use if you are planning to build a “traditional” craft.

The Yost method is a modern idea, and lots of nice kayaks have been built that way.

Cunningham’s book is a great tool for building a more traditional kayak. It’s a great place to start and following his instructions, you will end up with a pretty good kayak. Since he wrote the book about 20 years ago, many improvements have been made.

For good information on building all types of SOFs, check out

Size may be wrong
According to the ad, the masik or deck beam is 8.5" high. What is the height on the Tchaika? Measure straight up and down from the thigh braces or front of the coaming. You know how yor fit in that. Your feet will not reach the foot beam. You can paddle without that, but I don’t find that comfortable. SOFs can be really uncomfortable if they

don’t fit right. I would think about building your own. I’m working on number 7 now. I’d be happy to talk to you about it if we see you in Englewood.

oh Hey!
Oh hey there! Forgot your username. :wink:

The Tchaika’s thigh brace height from the seat base is 5.5" with padding, 6" without.

Looking this foot brace issue up - it seems the easiest solution would be foam yoga blocks - glued on…though not sure how well this would hold up long term…

I would love to talk to you more about kayak construction when we see you in Englewood!

See you soon!,


Upon entering the SOF world a couple years ago, I was a little surprised to learn that used SOFs are bought, resized and reskinned by devotees. Some builders are known as especially skilled and their frames are sought after and pass through multiple owners.

If you feel comfortable doing the work and and are comfortable the kayak is reasonably well built, it may be a good choice. But, if that’s the case, you may want to just build your own.

On the other hand, if you’re unfamiliar with the breed, be advised that the ergonomics and dynamics are quite different. For example, your legs are usually straight and together, which can feel less stable to the uninitiated. Make sure it’s what you want before laying out the cash.

I built one of these
Yost-style wood frame kayaks a few years ago (to my own specs and off my own plans) and the cost of materials was over $200, probably less than $300 if I recall right. That was with cheap wood and expensive cloth (12oz vs. the lightweight stuff) and goop (2-part urethane vs. some paint).

I did not use any glue on the frame (except on the front and rear plates) - all was just artificial sinew and it turned out very solid.

The price is “right” even at the $255 that “yours” on eBay sold for :wink:

Anyway, even building it to my own specs, somehow I could never get comfortable in it, not sure why - mine was built with plenty of room and knee-up paddling position, had a fairly nice and deep foam seat, full foot board, and a relatively large cockpit, but still - I could not paddle it comfortably for too long… I’ve had several other kayaks without back bands and they were comfy, so not sure what was the deal with this one… I’ve also been in the “traditional” style SOFs too, where your legs are straight and feet pointed forward, and in these I feel even less comfortable. On the other hand, I tend to fit in snug and contorted positions in some WW kayaks that I’m OK with. So, fit is extremely important and a personal matter… spelling error

The site is (Greenlanic spelling)

It’s the site used by serious kayak builders for all types of kayaks. A question posted today may bring answers from knowledgeable people in Oregon, California, Wales, Germany, etc.

Thank you everyone!
Thank you everyone!

Unfortunately, I got outbid at the last second - so lost the auction :-/ Oh well - probably wouldn’t be the ideal fit - if I ever get my wood working skills in order (currently horribly butchering GPs - thinking about getting a bandsaw now…ugh - this is getting expensive)- I can start working on something that would be better fit.

Thanks again!,