About "Eskimo" Tom and Fine Wood Watercraft

Finewoodwatercraft is a plans and design service for flat water watercraft. I provide this service primarily because I enjoy the process despite the fact there I discovered there is little opportunity to make a reasonable living doing it.

So, while this is an extensive hobby, I can still offer you vast experience and knowledge in building, designing and paddling these craft.

"Back in the Day"

It started innocently enough. On a whim I bought Wolfgang Brinck's book The Aleutian Kayak, "Origins, Construction, and Use of the Traditional Seagoing Baidarka" back in 1987, read it, shelved it and forgot it.

After many canoe excursions to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, the Superior National Forest and Lutsen, my eyes turned to the expansive waters of Lake Superior just East of Highway 61.

Outside Grandpa Woo's Boat Tours in Beaver Bay MN the sign says, "You've seen it from the road, now experience it from the water." One Autumn weekend while in Bayfield Wisconsin I took the 3 hour sea kayak tour from Trek and Trail and was hooked and wanted a kayak.

I looked at new kayaks in the stores as my timing was off for the kayak and canoe Auction at Midwest Mountaineering, a great source for affordable used boats.

Choosing to Build

It's hard wading through marketing hype to find the right kayak. Like any big ticket purchase it's best to do your homework or turn to someone who knows the subject matter. Weight is my primary concern as I frequently paddle alone. My ideal kayak needed to be light enough to be easily lifted on and off the truck by myself and carried to and from the water.

I recall being sorely disappointed with how heavy manufactured kayaks were and how costly. Weight can be less an issue in the water, but you need two folks to load and unload a heavy boat.

I want boats I can load solo on the vehicle and go at a moment's notice because that's when the urge to go for a paddle hits me. I want them light enough to portage comfortably if need be, canoe or kayak. It's a wilderness thing. If you've portaged a canoe in the BWCA you understand this intense desire for light weight.

Why Build

Why build a boat when you can buy it for less? You can find a bunch of cheap plastic boats everywhere. Some folks happen to have more time than money, others have more money than time. There are people who appreciate beauty and craftsmanship especially on the water. When driving down the Interstate with wood boats on my roof rack, I never fail to receive numerous appreciative gestures.

Where Am I Today?

In 2006 I married a Veterinarian, Pamela. In 2009 we opened Advanced Care Pet Hospital in St. Cloud MN.

We both work there full time, she takes care of the pets and I take care of the people up front. I contemplated shutting down the web site. I will probably put the website (domain name) up for auction one day or sell it outright to the right buyer when they come along as it does have value to someone in the field of wooden boats.

In the meantime, I will be here to help you.

We sold our house in Nowthen, MN and have moved to some land South of the Richmond/Sauk River Chain of Lakes region in Minnesota. We will have a new waterscape to discover there and our new place is situated on a quiet, private lake to call our own.

Where does the "Eskimo" in Eskimo Tom come from?

I am a Yup'ik Eskimo born in Anchorage Alaska, adopted at birth and raised in Milwaukee Wisconsin. My adoption mom always told my sister and I we were from Alaska.

I found my birth mother Ethel Sallison and met her for the first time in Bethel Alaska in 1995 and we remain in touch. I've had the opportunity to visit Alaska on three occasions, twice to Bethel. Once for the Cami Dance Festival, on another trip during a driving tour of the Kenai Peninsula, I got to see Leftover Salmon play in Homer!

The Eskimo nick name stuck since college in Stevens Point and Madison Wisconsin. You may have met me in the Jam Band scene and perhaps I washed your feet at the Anahata Aromatherapy booth at the outdoor music festivals or the Big Wu's Family Reunion. I was pretty addicted to the scene from the mid nineties into the turn of the century. I made a decision to take a break from "the scene," and re-discover a normal life.

The "Real People"

Yup'ik and Cup'ik people occupy the southwest region of Alaska bordering the Bearing Sea. They are a society rich with culture and tradition that utilize artistic expressions such as story telling, drumming and dancing to pass down traditional values to their youth, such as ways of life, survival skills and obedience.

Central Alaskan Yup'ik has the highest number of Alaska native speakers and the largest Population. In 17 of 68 villages, children are still learning Yup'ik as their first language. (From the Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, CIRI March 2005 Newsletter.)