Skin on Frame in Skaneateles

Middleton finishes one of a kind kayak project in time for Boat Show.

Building a kayak was "all Greek" to Andrew Middleton, 18, of Hannum Street Skaneateles.


Mythology Andrew said; The one about the man who picked up a calf everyday, and each day as the calf grew bigger the man became conditioned slowly to pick up just a little more weight than the day before, until a couple of years later he was finally lifting a bull.

"The boat was the same," he said.

He started with a few pieces of wood last summer (2006) and by the time it was ready to float, it was approximately 30 lbs., three fathoms long (about 17 and a half feet) and his hips plus two fists wide (about 20 inches) and a his fist with a thumbs up deep.

Thirty pounds is less than a bull, but quite a bit if you have to carry it down to the lake on your head -- about three blocks to the launch in Clift Park. This is exactly what Andrew did for the maiden voyage last Saturday July 14.

"It was a successful mission," he said, "looking forward to many more like it."


His kayak is named Telson, the term for the last body segment of arthropods. For example the long pointed tail of the horseshoe crab, which is like a living fossil. These creatures are beasts that have elegance, yet are also functional.

Andrew's Telson was not made from a kit. Instead, he essentially worked with state of an old art information. He gathered building and design ideas from two books "Building the Greenland Kayak: A manual for its construction and use," and "Building Skin on Frame Boats." He was also able to toss in his own ingenuity.

Andrew read up on the Inuit culture to get a feel for this particular skin on frame craft too. For the wood that edges the hole in the center of the kayak where one sits -- called the coaming, the Inuits would chew and suck on a piece of wood to form it to their specifications. Andrew's approach was to build a steamer out of PVC pipe and a camp stove. He did use his teeth at times gnawing through line or to hold things as a sort of third hand.

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