Man Thought of His Kayak
Irene Avaalaaqjaq 1976 *

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David W. Zimmerly

* This belongs to the collection of David & Helga Zimmerly.

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Bering Sea Kayak
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, NMM IV-E-1071   (see Lines drawings [7] in PDF)
Hooper Bay Kayak  Reproduction of Hooper Bay Kayak - from left, Chris, Bill, & David J. Zimmerly & Kathy Monahan. Photo by David W. Zimmerly.
  • Length - 15' 1.4"
  • Beam - 30.1"
  • Depth to Sheer - 9.4"
  • Loaded kayak stable to 45 degrees


The Bering Sea kayak is a high volume type with a generous beam and a steeply pitched deck ridge. Two people can sit in the cockpit back to back. The kayak was used this way for short passenger ferrying trips. Traditionally, the rear-facing passenger could become a "rear gunner" armed with bow and arrow.  The main use for this kayak was as a hunting craft among the ice floes. Sea mammals were butchered on a convenient floe and the pieces stuffed into the fore and aft sections of the kayak.

As a recreational kayak it's great for carrying your kids. It's one of the most stable of all arctic kayaks. It's also fun to build, even in a cramped space. The Bering Sea men used to prefabricate all the pieces in the men's house during the winter and assemble the kayak in the spring.

I spent one month during 1976 with master kayak builder Dick Bunyan in Hooper Bay, Alaska. At 69 years of age, he was one of the last kayak-builders in the area. These plans are based on the kayak he constructed at that time for the National Museums of Canada. See Zimmerly, 1985, The Hooper Bay Kayak, WoodenBoat 58:74-79. For a photo essay of Dick Bunyan's construction of this kayak see Hooper Bay Kayak Construction and Use See also Zimmerly, 1977, The Acquisition and Documentation of an Artifact.

  • Plan 1 - Plan and overview, construction profile with names of 
    structural parts in  Eskimo (Yuktun), a cross-sectional view at 
    the cockpit showing structural members  and a cross-sectional 
    view showing every 50 centimeters.
  • Plan 2 - Four full-size beams ( 2-Ayaagautik, 2-Tuquravik 
    Ayaaraq ), sternmost ribs ( 2-Tuntunaq ), sternmost deck beams 
    ( 2-
    Tuntunaq ) and cockpit coaming stanchion 
    ( 2-
    Ayaarparvik ). 
  • Plan 3 - Full-size ribs 11-21 ( Ninak ), deck beams 
    ( 2-
    Ayaaracuaq, and 1-Ayaara Nilinguq ), and bow block ( 
    profile and top view of
    Amuuvik ). 
  • Plan 4 - Full-size bow handhold (Ukinnakutca) and deck 
    (Kulak), stern handhold (Pamiyua) and deck stringer  
    (Kulak), keelson (Kuiyaraq) and bottom stern piece  
  • Plan 5 - Full-size forward ribs 3-10 (Cauyeraq) and rib and 
    deck beam locations.
  • Plan 6 - Full-size after ribs 22-27 (Cauyeraq).
  • Plan 7 - Table of offsets and miscellaneous construction details 
    including  rib/stringer tie, cockpit coaming and port gunwale.
    by David W. Zimmerly
    This book documents the construction of a Bering Sea style-kayak made in the community of Hooper Bay, Alaska in October and November 1976 under the direction of Dick Bunyan. Written as journal entries, the text details construction from the initial splitting of the wood to the final fitting of the cockpit lashings. Each step is illustrated with black-and-white photographs and line drawings. The author has also included detailed measurements of the kayak, a glossary of Yupik terms, and descriptions and drawings of kayak accessories. 2000.  107 pages, 84 figures, 89 photographs, 1 map, 3 appendices.  Second addition.  ISBN 0-660-17511-8

    This book is the second edition of Hooper Bay Kayak Construction.  It is signed by the author and available for $19.95 US, plus $5.00 US shipping and handling ($29.95 Cdn, plus $6.00 Cdn S&H). [
    Ordering Information]
    [1 November 2000]  


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