Umiak, Oomiak, skin boat

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by cor, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. cor
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Alaska

    cor Senior Member

    I recently took these photos of umiaks on St Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. The boats are used for hunting bow head whales. All of the boats that I looked at were constructed and set up the same way.

    About 24' long, 6' wide, and 3' deep. The keel timber measures about 3"x6" with a seperate 2"x2" piece that goes on after the skin. The ribs are 1"x1" and the longitudinals are 3/4"x1 1/2". There is one clench nail at each intersection. The ribs are mortised into the gunwale piece, which measures about 2"x3". The ribs are made in halves and overlap slightly at the keel. All the boats have a motor well in the same location, to one side of the keel about 5' from the stern. Some of the boats are setup for a sailing rig with a hinged mast partner. This allows you to insert the mast in horizontal postion and then raise it. The masts are about 20' long and 4" in dia. Some boats have traditional skin covering (split walrus or bearded seal) and some have some kind of synthetic material.

    The boats travel to and from the hunting areas with the outboard motor, but when hunting the sails are used.

    I thought that some forum members might be interested in their design and construction.
     

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  2. cor
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Alaska

    cor Senior Member

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  3. DCockey
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    Location: Midcoast Maine

    DCockey Senior Member

    Thanks! Very much appreciated.

    Stephen Braund's book, The Skin Boats of Stain Lawrence Island, Alaska which was published in 1988, is probably the best source for information about the boats. Skip Snaith also wrote a book about how to build Umiaks.

    The hinged mast step is similar to that used on whaleboats, which is not surprising since the residents of St Lawrence Island at one time used second hand whaleboats. The current design of Umiaks evolved to replace the whale boats.

    John Bockstoe lead an expedition which traveled by umiak thought the Northwest passage over several summers. The boat he used in now in Mystic Seaport's collection.
     

  4. cor
    Joined: May 2008
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    Location: Alaska

    cor Senior Member

    Thanks for the info about Braund's book, I was not aware of it.

    C.O.
     
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