Whats the rap on Baidarkas

Ever since reading Dyson’s book on the Baidarka I have been fascinated by that style of a boat, but wondered why outside of a few homebuilding sites no commercial company has seen a reason to produce any.


Labor intensive process doesn’t lend it to a profitable venture.

Knew about Willow, Shearwater,
Laughing Loon etc., but curious why there has been an adversion by the composite manufactures to produce a Baidarka. Is there something about their looks or how they handle on water that has made them a no go from the commercial stand point? I did make a hybrid of my own that I have had fun with and once paddled a Laughing Loon Northstar that I thought was really nice, but never quite understood why this hull design hasn’t made its’ way to the commercial side of the business.

That’s the beauty of them
they are not mass produced. Accept the fact that nearly all kayak designers start there or with hard-chined ancient designs.

If you like to look: have you seen Harvey Golden’s site?


My Guess…
a baidarka is a “funny” (if not “ugly”) looking boat from the eyes of many folks. It’s probably not going to sell as well as those sleeker looking Brit or even QCC boats. I think the only commercial composite baidarka I have heard/read about is the Mainestar (?) baidarka that Ayerloom has. A rare boat from what I have gathered. This boat’s production was short lived. I haven’t seen any photos to see how true to the baidarka lines this boat really is. In Hutchinson’s book, he talks about boat he designed named the “baidarka” but that boat is more “brit” looking than true baidarka.

Finally, the performance of the baidarka “hinges” literally in large part to the flexible framework, in that the wooden keel traditionally is not a straight piece but one with a flexible hinge built in (a rounded joint that is fully wrapped with sinew). Looking at Brinck’s and Morris’ books on this joint, I was left wondering, “Why?”. The answer came when a fellow P-Netter sent me (thank you) of a video that showed Dyson launching and paddling a baidarka in the waters of it’s origin. It was informative to see how the low part of the bifurcated jaw of the bow cut through waves while the higher volume upper allowed the bow to float over. You can literally see the baidarka slither over an oncoming wave. It was neither the cutting through and resultant wet ride of a Greenland SOF, nor the up and over than slamming and bone jarring ride of most commercially produced, higher volume boats. That jarring ride would be pretty tiresome on the body on a long paddle/hunt in the turbulent Aleutian waters.

I am sure the form of the baidarka can be reproduced but not the performance that comes from the frame itself. So a composite reproduction will be nothing but a funny looking boat.

The beauty of the baidarka is in it’s performance. Without knowing the performance, the majority of the consumers of manufactured boats will only see a “snout ugly” boat. Such boats won’t sell.


The unsinkable Derek Hutchinson designed and sold a fibregras Baidarka Explorer many, many moons ago. I had the chance to buy one a few years back but money was tight as it so often is in the paddling budget

My understanding is that the classic NA designs are adaptations of the Baidarka (with their rounded hulls & peaked decks) allbeit without the georgous bifrucated bows. Too expensive / difficult to mold perhaps? Consider the lines of the CD Solstice / Expedition / Extreme compared to a baidardka. For my eye the classic NA design source was the baidarka.

BTW Derek Hutchinson is recovering, as we speak, from triple or quadruple bypass surgery. So let’s all wish another paddler a speedy recovery, yeah?



Thanks for the explanation
I wondered about that while reading his book , which I found in the library on board the schooner I crewed on . It was an autographed copy and I asked James the Captain about it as he never paddled . Turns out James was the fella that Dyson met up with an sailed round with afore his Badarka building days. Dyson has his own Badarka building co. His Pa was a very well know astophysicist , nuclear powered space travel.

My guess after reading Tappen Adneys book on Bark and skin boats of North America, his early 1900 research seems to show that it was ONE stage in an advancement of boat building knowledge at the time. Seems there was a major influence with Russian boat designs and later in the century the designed changed to suit the needs and seemed to be better boats. Maybe like the reason Chevy doest build the Nova anymore…its still a car but maybe the design has outlived its use.



wow, sing, you really know how to hurt a guy !! =:-/ - my mainestar 17 is a very close copy of a baidarka, and i will admit that the stern is kind of strange looking, but it sure runs nicely aheah of a following sea, and that may have been it’s purpose - the true design had virtually no rocker, but this one does, so about 2’ of the bow rides out of the water when the boat isn’t loaded (it is an expedition boat), and it makes for a nice profile, but does require a bit of edging to turn -

the boat may be built again in the future, as a few people are considering buying the mold - i find it a great all around boat - with the skeg down, she tracks very well, and up, maneuvers(sp)the twisty salt marsh creeks with little effort -

and finally, at 38# in kevlar, including skeg, my boat was fast enough for pam browning to win the “whatever” race a couple of years back -

My Apology…
didn’t mean to insult your baby… :slight_smile: Beauty we behold in that we which choose. Who’s say whether it’s rational or not.

Actually, I would love to see your Mainestar at some point. Maybe we’ll get together when the weather warms up. :slight_smile:


Funny Looking?

– Last Updated: Dec-11-04 6:02 PM EST –

Mine has the Mainestar beaten in that department. I quess you never know what you are going to get with backyard hybrid cross pollenation.


But I had a lot of fun building it and even paddling it. It performed well in several areas, but top end speed. That seems to be less of a problem when I put a lighter paddler in it. It is responsive to body motion for turning and control. I think that is due to the long slow rising rocker that starts back at about the cockpit. It likes to run with the waves, but is sluggish when has to go the other way. Even though it is true that the origional Aleution boats seem to have a hinged keel line as part of their design, I think that most of the paddling characteristics of the Baidarka hull shape can be captured in a stiff hull construction. Mine is just a back yard special, but I wonder what people have found that they like by designs like Laughing Loon has?

Great Glass Job…

– Last Updated: Dec-11-04 6:06 AM EST –

I like that... :)

"funny looking" -- I am speculating, of course. You asked the question why no production composite baidarka. Mainestar produced one and is no longer around.

What's your guess about it. It can't be the the building process... I mean once you have a mold, what's really difference in laying the glass for a boat with one chine, two, three whatever. I think the "mass consumer" follows the crowd. What does the crowd want? Generally what others have and these are largely about the same in appearances. That's why you see so many similar looking boat models across the manufacturers' lines. It's only when the paddler becomes more serious and has more time with water passing under his/her butt that s/he begins to discriminate a bit the hull design and nitty gritty outfitting details. I don't know why Mariner/Broze brothers decided to pull out. But it's interesting to note that there are not a lot of Mariners out there, though folks out there who have them, love them. When you see a Mariner, you can't help but note that they are distinctly different than most boat models. I think most folks think they are "funny looking" (i.e. different). I know I did when I first saw one.

Again, I think the beauty of the baidarka is in how it performs. This too however depends on the builder's ability to achieve the performance characteristics s/he wants in the boat. One is probably more able with a traditional building method than with a mass produced one size fits all boat targeted across the varying paddlers.

I actually think the SOF baidarka is beautiful and would like to try build one myself. :)


the problem with the now discontinued Mainestar, built by the Maine Coast Boatworks, was that the two partners, both lincoln employees as i understand, had a falling out over money issues - the boats were selling, and they shut down holding plenty of orders - -

one of the beauties of the design is that it was built with high wind conditions in mind - as a novice, i got caught in a line squall off plymouth, and was able to handle the boat in what were reported to be 60mph winds - i know you experienced guys can handle the likes, but it was a bit hairy for a beginner !!! - that was the one time i’d wished the boat weighed about 138# instead of 38#


– Last Updated: Dec-11-04 6:01 PM EST –

I had seen the Mainestar at NESC and thought it was well built for weight ratio. If I recall their take on it was that it was a more point A to B boat, but I have paddled one skin one and one Laughing Loon Northstar along with my own and did not feel they were overly excessive on the tracking side. I did feel that the rocker on the Mainestar started closer to the bow then I have seen in the numerous diagrams and photos I have in books here at home or shots on the web. They can be quick. Somebody at the Newfound Rendezvous the last year they had it at Winnepausaukee took out a whole slew of boats that were on the beach with a GPS and said the fastest speed he got was from the Laughing Loon Northstar.
I have heard nothing but positive things about the Mariner hulls and also have wondered why you don't hear about somebody keeping that going. My quess on that is the fact more cars are probably sold due to accessories then their drive train and that is what has kept that hull from gaining in popularity. I wonder if somebody took some of their better hulls and "trimmed" them out if they wouldn't start to gain a little more in popularity. One thing I don't want to do is express too much of an opinion about boats (out side of how they are constructed which is the only reason I held back on buying an Explorer)because I have little experience in Ocean paddling (a lot on fresh water) and am not skilled in the finer points of paddling so this is why I would love to hear more about the pros and cons about what floats a succesful design. I like working with my hands and sometimes just plain starting from scratch which led me to mine. Just follow your "snout" and who knows? Oh by the way my real boat (for now) is an Aquanaut.

saw that boat about 1 1/2 yrs ago - if the same one, it was f/g and had no skeg

Put rudder on mine, but
doesn’t seem to be needed at all. I didn’t know being a homebuilt/self design if it would need one, but knew it would be easier to install one while building the boat rather then trying to add one later (if needed) so I picked one up cheap and installed it. Have had the boat out enough now to wonder if it would ever be needed or a skeg for that matter. I wouldn’t add either if I were doing it all over again.