Thursday, August 08, 2013

Searching for the Finmen

Norman Rogers was training in his kayak for an upcoming race several years ago when he started feeling unwell. When he finally reached shore, he was barely able to get himself out of the water, and subsequent tests and treatment meant that he would be reducing his paddling time for an extended period. While on his journey to discover the source of his weakness, he wanted to do something to keep his mind on kayaking, and he decided to investigate another journey, the story of the Aberdeen Paddler, an Inuk paddling a traditional Greenland kayak found on a beach near Aberdeen in the early 1700s. Who was this kayaker? Where did he come from? Could someone really have paddled from Greenland to Scotland in a (literally) skin-on-frame kayak?
Rogers' research journey takes him down many paths. From anthropology and archaeology as he explores the history of both the various northern First Nation peoples and their native watercraft, to physics and wave mechanics as he investigates whether such a crossing was even possible. There's even a brief detour into movie review territory, and Rogers' own story of his recovery from surgery to correct a heart defect.
An informative and entertaining read, especially if you're interested in the history of kayaks and their creators. (And check out Simon Willis' interview with the author at Sea Kayak Podcasts.)

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