Greenland paddling

At the Michigan camp there were plenty of loaner boats provided, and most folks there were gracious about letting others try their own. Several fellow attendees who borrowed my 18’ Monkcraft skin on frame liked it enoigh to want to build one like it so I shared links to the plans for that replica.

There were also boats, paddles and gear that people brought to sell.

Besides the skills training, there were fun events like harpoon target throwing contests, demos and lessons on ropes exercises and seminars on Greenlandic culture. We got to help stretch and stitch a new skin on a vintage qajaq frame and there was a DIY class where you could sew a custom nylon or mesh cockpit cover for your boat. The next year the featured class was carving your own own Greenland paddle.

The big event Saturday was the “90 minute qajaq build” where 3 teams competed to build a functional kayak from bundles of wood 1 by 2’s, lots of duct tape and wide plastic stretch wrap. The resulting boats were raced (and rolled) and the winning team got some swag. At sunset the boats were carried over the hill to the Lake Michigan beach and burned in a big bonfire.

Also have to say the food was terrific. One of the organizer/instructors is a kayak tour outfitter and caterer who smokes his own meat. There was also a full vegetarian menu (Dubside, one of the star instructors, is a vegetarian.)

I’ll post some photos from the event a little later (can’t access them from this iPad.)


SSTIKS will be held on Washington’s Hood Canal just before mid September. Just ‘google’ on “SSTIKS”.

Rex, I would definitely encourage you to try some of the Greenland techniques on your touring boats! My rolling style has always been C to C and high brace recovery, all force and fight to get back up as quickly as possible. I’ve been trying to learn more of the Greenland styles and typically just in my regular daily driver touring boat. It has really made a world of difference and in fact just last night I finally had some layback sweeps where the paddle felt mostly superfluous, it was amazing! I’ll be going back out again tonight to do some more of those and then likely jinx myself by trying it on my off-side ha.

I do have a beautiful Greenland boat but it is a 45 minute drive to the ocean and a nice beach to use that, whereas I have a 5 minute drive to a local pond that is better suited to my poly boat. As much as I love rolling the Ilaga, it’s just not practical for me to do it as often as I want. That said, after rolling my touring kayak and then going to the Ilaga it feels like everything is instantly effortless.

That is all a long winded way of saying, don’t let your boat get in the way of trying the Greenland style! Personally I find it incredibly rewarding and much more natural. It might sound trite but it’s nice to think of the water as a friend that you play with and not your enemy that you have to fight against. Mind you, when it conspires against me with multi-directional reflected chop or gets up my sinuses… bah, smack low brace… smack!

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That sounds so fun! Willowleaf, do a lot of the participants bring regular fiberglass boats, or do most people have skin-on-frame? My Impex Montauk is considered a Greenland style kayak, so I’m guessing it’ll be fine for the instruction, correct?

Oh, yes, plenty of variety and plastic and composite boats. I will post photos when I get to my lap top where they are stashed. The instructors do know that students need to know how to roll whatever boat they own. Since at that venue you have to actually paddle yourself across a small lake to get to the campground (not accessible by land) everybody brought some sort of kayak. You could arrive sans boat and ride the pontoon boat that hauls everyone’s gear across from the parking area.

They don’t mandate kayak style but are pretty earnest about only allowing GPs in the instruction and events. I don’t recall spotting any Euro blades during the event. Some attendees may have crossed the lake using them on arrival and discreetly stashed them in tent or cabin.

I’m at home so I’ll add a few pictures from recent Qajaq TC camps. One year a young woman (college student I think) who had talked with folks at Canoecopia showed up in her Rec kayak. She was expected and welcome and used some of the Qajaq USA fleet for the weekend.


Here’s a batch of pics from 2018 Michigan QTC (the drone pics are not mine but were shared in their followup emails to participants).


@rival51 @willowleaf Thank you so much for sharing those pictures! It looks like so much fun and now I am both retroactively jealous and more determined to attend the next one up here.

Those pictures look great and fun, definitely something I’d love to do in a near future. Thanks, @willowleaf !

@rival51 @willowleaf Yes, great pictures, thanks. Lots of beautiful boats, paddles, and paddlers.

Ah you are right :frowning: . Thanks for the info tho!

My buddy Mike hunting land walrus… nice throw

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Yup, that’s Mike B. We’ve become friends since QTC where we learned through talking that we had a connection – he and his wife are long time friends of my close cousins in Toledo. I dropped off some neglected Birkebeiner wooden XC skis to him last Fall on my way to visit them, and he beautifully restored the skis for his daughter.

I enjoyed learning to use the harpoon from Mike and with his excellent instruction I picked it up pretty fast. (I think my previous experience with an atlatl helped.)

What is handy for me about the Michigan event is that even though it is over 500 miles from me (Pittsburgh) I have kin and friends in Toledo, Williamston, Allegan, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Whitehall and Pentwater so there are plenty of couches to surf on my way up there to break up the drive. Though now with my self contained camper I could just park in their driveways.

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I was harpoon mentor for a lot of folks at MTC, Mike included probably.
He built the most beautiful stripper I ever saw. I could not fit in it :neutral_face:


Styrofoam seal hunting at it’s best! You were also harpoon master at Northern lights Greenland gathering. {for many years}

No styrofoam seals that year: the organizers had brought a couple of rolls of 1/2" red and blue PEX tubing, somePVC couplings and hanks of paracord. I volunteered to make four concentric rings spaced with lengths of the cord – made a good floating bullseye target for the competition.

The year before I managed to kill a seal and so didn’t go hungry - well, actually, one of the soccer balls used as a target (on the water) somehow managed to float under my poor excuse for a throw.


Hey Mulefire, my rolling with the GP is really very comfortable and not at all tiring. What I was getting at earlier is that it seems the hot shot Greenland rollers don’t even need a paddle. I not only don’t have the boat for those rolls, but my short, stiff torso is also a problem. My genes don’t want me doing a balance brace! I’ll keep enjoying my paddles; working on improving my ‘paddle dexterity’. I’m noticing this year that I’m able to get more ‘bite’ from my blade quite a bit lower than I was last year; able to roll and brace with the blade down lower.

Ah, then you are doing better than I am then :slight_smile:

I do have a beautiful norsaq and I refuse to let it be a pretty decoration much longer. I can “feel” how it would work and I can roll by grabbing the paddle from the deck but if I do that I’ll be letting go of the norsaq… So maybe I should learn the elbow crook roll first… So many things! :slight_smile:

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