Jarle Olaussen, Norway

Jarle Olaussen is a licensed practical nurse and lives in Sømna. He has paddled a fair amount and built a baidarka during a course in Brønnøysund in 2003. He wrote:

On September 19, 2003, I enjoyed the maiden voyage with the canvas kayak that I had recently built. I was pleasantly surprised. It lived up to all my expectations and then some. What surprised me the most was that it was neutral to sidewinds, not turning into the wind as much as my fibreglass kayak. This craft actually didn't need a rudder. It was easy to paddle and surprisingly fast. I brought a GPS and could easily maintain a speed of 4.5 knots. When I exerted myself, I could manage 6 knots. The kayak is very stable and I can lean over quite far before it starts to capsize. I padded the back of the cockpit afterwards for the sake of my back. I have two insulation mats to sit on. The sea sock was fantastic. It's a wonderful invention, both when it comes to safety and for carrying items to be packed in the kayak. The canvas kayak is my first choice when I go out to paddle. The fibreglass kayak is now going into storage. Thank you very much for enjoyable, productive days that I will remember with great pleasure. I am very satisfied with the result.

Best kayak wishes

Jarle Olaussen

Glenn Morris, Wales

Testimonial for Anders.

I have recently returned from a course run by Anders Thygesen in Vestfossen. The course, undertaken in Anders' large and well equipped workshop, far exceeded my expectations. Anders calmly and expertly guided all of us through each stage of kayak construction and from a start point of two planks of wood we finished on the sixth day with a completed kayak. It is immensely satisfying to be involved with the construction of your own kayak and I cannot imagine buying a plastic or fibreglass kayak ever again - not least because it is so much kinder to the environment. I would encourage anyone who is considering buying a sea kayak to sign up for a course with Anders and make your own. Not only will you have a seaworthy kayak but also a work of art.

Glenn Morris (Arctic Voice Expedition 2007/08)

You can also learn about Glenn's arctic expeditions on the website: www.arcticvoice.org.

Susan Ellicome, UK


I just wanted to write and thank you very much for  such a fantastic Greenland kayak building course. You are an excellent teacher, and I so enjoyed every minute of the course, and really learnt a great deal about the design and making of these amazing water craft, and felt very happy making my kayak. They are really fascinating and very beautiful, and I can't wait to try mine out. Vestfossen is certainly a lovely place to live, and I really enjoyed my time in Norway. Also, everyone on the course were so pleasant,  helpful and accommodating, especially with putting up with the constant English translating. But particularly, I wanted to thank you for being so patient and making sure I understood every step. I think it was a great achievement that  everybody finished their craft - it is all very exciting.

Best wishes, Susan Ellcome

Susan writes again later

Dear Anders,

I have ordered a tuilik from Canada, but it hasn't arrived yet, and I haven't quite finished my paddle, however, with six coats of paint (very thin!) on the hull and three on the deck, I finally decided it was time to launch my kayak yesterday in Loch Lomond. Duncan Winning came along with some other friends and we enjoyed a great day out. I think you will agree, the kayak looks beautiful thanks to all your help, and it felt really great to paddle and very comfortable. It was a little tippy when the wind came up from the side and there were also some small waves from the side, but I managed to stay dry, and I am sure it will help my paddling skills. It was a very grey day so the photos are not that wonderful, but I will send you some more when I go out again on a sunny day, and hopefully get some better photos.

Bye for now and thanks again.

All best wishes, Sue.

Susanne Mesøy, Norway

Hi! My name is Susanne and I was given the opportunity to attend one of Anders' courses and build my own kayak when I was 13. I was a bit unsure about participating since I'm not exactly the best at arts and crafts. But both my father and my grandfather had built their own kayaks, and I had heard a lot of good things about Anders' course – so I took the chance. It was great fun! Long days and hard work, but the atmosphere was good and it was easy to get help when I had questions. I was proud and happy when at the end of the week I could go home with my own kayak. It didn't take many days before I got it on the water. The picture I've attached is from the maiden voyage. It's fun having a kayak that is tailor-made for me. I chose to make an East Greenland kayak, which is easy to manoeuvre or roll in. It's also stable in rough weather since it's so low and doesn't catch much wind. I'm glad I took the risk of building it myself.

Stein Viken, Norway

My personal kayak

By Stein Viken, editor of "Padling" magazine.

When I signed up for a Greenland kayak construction course with Anders Thygesen, I didn't really know quite what I was getting into. I had read and heard a bit about the Inuits' kayaks, and that they couldn't quite compare to our modern plastic kayaks, but I didn't know that they had so many positive attributes.  The first thing I noticed when paddling my new self-made kayak was the sound. They say that in a kayak you glide silently through the water, but you can't really avoid dripping noises from the oar on the deck. In a Greenland kayak, these sounds are like music, while they sound more like a leaky tap when in a plastic kayak.

The next thing I noticed was the way the kayak moved in the water. Besides being stiff enough to paddle effectively, it was also flexible enough to tackle all sorts of waves. The interaction between the kayak, the sea and myself was both surprising and wonderful, and the comfort level was very high. Already after the first trip, I knew that this would be my primary kayak. After five years' use, it's still my first choice when I go out for a trip (although I still paddle wooden and plastic kayaks from time to time) and the craft has required almost no upkeep. Maintenance has been limited to washing and dry storage, plus an extra layer of paint the third year. I haven't had to patch or sew the canvas anywhere, despite having been in contact with sharp rocks and ice sheets from time to time.

The joy of building my own kayak also influences my feelings with regard to this kayak – even five years later. I've always had a relaxed attitude to objects, and never cried over lost, exchanged or sold items, but I'm never going to get rid of the Greenland kayak. It's become an important part of my life. If/when I can't paddle anymore, I'm going to hang it on the wall of my living room!

Trond Magne Movik, Norway

Trond Magne Movik, a judge from Skien writes.

The feeling of building a Greenland Kayak.

We had moved closer to the sea, and Kjersti and I agreed that we had to get a couple of kayaks and begin paddling again. I was going on a trip to Bergen for job reasons and saw that there was a "build your own kayak" course there the same week. Exciting. We had been considering fibreglass, but it would be fun to have a really traditional kayak. Additionally, I would find it fun to build it myself. After doubting whether it would be a good idea to spend a week on this, I signed up and watched some long boards quickly take shape and begin to resemble a kayak. We had just built a house, and we were used to right angles and millimetre precision being important. There were no such criteria here. Instead, it was all about fine curves, good shapes and approximate measurements. For example, the kayak was to be about three times as long as I was tall and as wide as my own width plus two fists. The distance between the ribs was about as far as the distance between my outstretched first finger and thumb, or a "small span" as Anders called it. Each participant could design their own kayak. I was fascinated to watch my kayak assume its graceful, but flexible and beautiful form.

When I came home, it didn't take long before I bought a kit of materials from Anders, and began building a kayak for Kjersti in the garage. I had doubts about bending the ribs myself, so I took a trip to Anders to seek his aid. This is something that requires practice, and it's a joy to see him shaping them. Spring arrived, and we began paddling. We had paddled a bit before, but usually in rivers and on lakes, especially in the area around Hardangervidda. After we had children there was little paddling. Now they were grown enough to be left alone for a while, and we could enjoy a few trips on the fjord. But the children weren't just grown enough to be independent, they wanted to come along. Magnus turned 18 that summer and thought that this was a great craft, which held its own on the water. He wanted to try it for real. We paddled around Stråholmen outside Telemark in a  gale. The kayaks performed impressively and rode the waves in a natural and elegant way. The only downside to the trip was that by the time we got back to Havsund, I was seasick and vomited.

We took more trips, and I began to understand that we had too few kayaks. So next winter, I made another one. This time with a slightly different shape and other properties. But then there was my younger brother. His kayak was starting to get old and wasn't very good. So I bought another kit of materials from Anders, and soon the fourth kayak will be ready. It's a good thing I took that course in Bergen...

Harald Mesøy, Norway

Anders: I've attached a picture from the construction course where I built a baidarka. It was great fun taking part in such a course. It's opened up a new world for me now that I'm retired. Being able to go on trips with friends and family, exploring archipelagos, lakes and rivers are fantastic. After I got the kayak on the water, I've practised a lot of safety and a little acrobatics. I  managed to learn the Eskimo roll just before I turned 70! I've passed that milestone now, but paddling is still a good way to exercise. One of the things that surprised me after getting started is that I can kayak all year – without getting cold. In December 2005 I went on an overnight trip with two others – we had snow part of the time. Other times, we experienced shining sun and temperatures of -10°C (14° F). But in the kayak, it's nice and warm no matter the conditions. It's a unique feeling to be out on the fjord when it's otherwise empty of boats. This summer I'm going back to my childhood haunts to paddle Helgelandskysten from Brønnøysund to Ørnes with my son and daughter-in-law. The trip will take about ten days – with visits to skerries and islands on the way. I'm looking forward to it!


Erik Mesøy, Norway

Anders: I wanted to share some thoughts and two pictures from a trip with my family during the summer of 2005. The picture with the two baidarkas by the lighthouse is taken outside Kristiansand. (I think it's the Grønningen lighthouse.) I'm paddling the red baidarka while my sister and father paddle the blue double baidarka. ne of the good things about a kayak trip is the quiet evenings in the tent where we can sit on a deserted skerry, looking out over the archipelago and listening to seagulls and oystercatchers playing in the evening sun.


The Berg Fagerland Family, Norway

It only gets better.

We're looking forward to further trips, now that we're even more used to our triple kayak. The craft is built for sharing paddle experiences. We can help one another and seize opportunities. Almost nobody paddles faster than us when we exert ourselves. Ingrid and Olav in the middle are in charge of handing out chocolate and viewing the map and compass. They know where we've been and where we're going. Anne at the front is keeping a steady pace and enjoying the sun. Kurt is at the back because he's the heaviest and strongest, not to mention proudest. Paddling along is good, but paddling together with someone you love is wonderful. The best trips are still waiting for us, those we haven't yet paddled. The mountain in the middle of the picture, ahead and to the right of us, is Torghatten. Those who haven't heard the legend yet can visit us in Brønnøysund. Then they can paddle with us and hear the story of what happened – how the mountain was pierced through the middle. And if you're well behaved, you can even try the kayak which has a lot of space and is easy to paddle.

Tor Mesøy, Norway

Hi! My name is Tor and I built my first kayak at one of Anders' courses in 2002. I had no idea what I was getting into – I had barely been in a kayak before and had never built anything so advanced. It didn't take long before I was sold. I've built three more kayaks since then, of different types and sizes. Building kayaks is highly enjoyable, but it's at least as fun to paddle along the coast of Norway – whether with friends or family. One of the special things about a kayak is that it's very quiet, so it's easy to approach birds and animals. I've attached a picture from a trip in Oslofjorden where I came into close contact with a walrus that had gotten lost and made its way into Langåra. The pictured kayak is a baidarka – the first one I built. It's turned out to be robust, and with minimal maintenance, it's been a good long-distance craft through four seasons. It's easy to load with a tent, sleeping bag, cookware, food and clothes. I can easily go for a week's trip with a few refills on the way. We have paddled Oslo- Risør, Risør-Mandal and Lysebotn-Stavanger-Haugesund with this kayak. It has performed well, also in storms and 2-3 metre high waves. Highly recommended.