About "Eskimo" Tom and Fine Wood Watercraft
Artist, Designer, Boat-Builder, Teacher, Speaker
I offer extensive experience and knowledge in building, designing and paddling fine hand made wood double-paddle canoes and sea kayaks.
"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 and the Superior National Forest, my eyes turned to the expansive waters of Lake Superior 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 in Bayfield Wisconsin I took the 3 hour sea kayak tour from Trek and Trail and was hooked and wanted a kayak.
Choosing to Build
I frequently paddle solo. My ideal boat is light enough to be easily lifted on and off the truck and carried to and from the water by myself.
I recall being sorely disappointed with how heavy manufactured kayaks were, and how costly the light kevlar and carbon models were. Weight is less of an issue in the water, but two people are needed to safely load and unload most boats unless you have one made of Kevlar.
I want boats I can load myself on the vehicle 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.
Some folks happen to have more time than money, others have more money than time. Kevlar boats are costly. You and I can build a wood boat that weighs about the same as a kevlar or carbon model for the same length.
There are people who appreciate beauty and craftsmanship of a fine hand made boat 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 2009, my wife Pamela and I opened Advanced Care Pet Hospital in St. Cloud MN.
After helping my wife get the business off the ground and on solid footing, I'm returing to my passions boat design, building art and teaching others.
We reside in the Richmond / Cold Springs / Sauk River Chain of Lakes region in Minnesota.
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 and met my birth mother Ethel Sallison in Bethel Alaska in 1995. 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 nick name "Eskimo Tom" dates back to my college in Stevens Point and Madison Wisconsin. I ran with the Minnesota Jam Band scene, perhaps I washed your feet at the Anahata Aromatherapy booth at the Big Wu's Family Reunion.
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, the 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.)