The Art of Kayak Building
The most beautiful bays on earth can only be explored from the endless immensity of the sea. This yearning for nature, the water and its deepest secrets is precisely the stuff that adventure travellers’ dreams are made of – dreams that the warm-hearted kayak experts at Seawolf Kayak, with their rich history of craftsmanship, can make come true.
Exploring windswept beaches, unspoiled woods and imposing rocks and discovering rare wildlife and the unique heritage of the Inuit and Aleut people, this episode of Stories by Parajumpers is dedicated to Kiliii Yuyan, the founder and owner of Seawolf Kayak, a company that started as a survival school for ancient skills and that celebrates the traditional art of building skin-on-frame kayaks.
“I spent the majority of my life chasing after my culture and my culture’s tradition,” explains Yuyan, whose mission was inspired by his Grandmother’s stories and who dedicates his life to the Inuit and Aleut people from the far north of North America, Greenland and eastern Eurasia ever since. “My ultimate aim is to learn how indigenous people understand nature as a way of life.” he continues, adding that his aim resulted from the willingness to reconnect with the land of his ancestors, while teaching others how to build a kayak in a traditional way, thus making the magical moments of kayaking happen.
But the beauty of Yuyan’s handmade kayaks lies not only in the celebration of heritage, but also in his dedication and passion for state-of-the-art craftsmanship. In order to satisfy the needs of the modern-day adventurer, Yuyan took up the challenge to build complex yet easily manoeuvrable shapes of kayaks that are both functional and desirable. All the kayak models undergo extensive quality tests and are each designed with a particular set of needs in mind, such as the functional requirements of long expeditions, fishing, surfing and exploration trips. Many years of experience in rough waters are mandatory, if one wishes to create unique kayaks that match the needs of junior, intermediate and advanced paddlers. The five steps of building a kayak seem simple at first glance, and yet they require a high-quality craftsmanship and precision that ensures a lightweight, high tech and long lasting design of premium quality.
Amazingly, even if the purpose of kayaking has changed over time – they are no longer used in the hunt for seal, walrus and whales on the open ocean – the art of kayaking is here to stay. Today, it pleases nature lovers who enjoy boating among the mesmerising ice floes of the high arctic, or through fierce storms and strong currents, just to experience the beauty and uniqueness of unspoilt nature and wilderness.
“I live in Seattle, and I love it here, because everything is about the ocean and about the sea.” says Kiliii Yuyan. “It’s a great place, a great junction between people and nature, which is a big part of my life and determines what I do and how I see the world.” A self-professed water adventure addict, Kiliii Yuyan concludes by confessing his eternal love for the big blue: “When you go out and the wind is whipping 30 miles an hour and the waves are really harsh, that’s when a boat needs to be good,” concludes Yuyan. “That’s when it needs to let you enjoy the experience, while keeping you safe. The sea and the wilderness are all about the magic of what it means to be human.”
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