West Greenland Norsaq

This was from a kayaking board on the internet. Since I never know how long those are going to stay online, I've put the information here, as it originally appeared.

I sent Kent LeBoutillier the plans for my norsaq (throwing stick), and he created a webpage at http://www.geocities.com/kentsyaks/Norsaq.htm . He is using laminations to create a quite beautiful object, while my mine are made of solid wood. I would ignore the angles shown at the right, and just create the same basic shape. My norsaq was borrowed by two Greenland competitors, for the rolling competition, so that is some assurance that it is fairly close to an acceptable variant of a West Greenlandic throwing board. Make the width comfortable for you to grip and feel free to alter all of the dimensions. My newest norsaq is about an inch longer that that shown in the diagram.

An actual throwing stick has two holes in it, to allow it to be held tightly to the harpoon shaft, and provide a connection to the harpoon for transmitting the force of your throw. These are not shown in the diagram. The holes are often reinforced with bone. The image at left shows one method of using a triangular piece of bone for the reinforcement at the narrow end of the stick, that receives the most stress. The reinforcement goes all the way through the norsaq (the triangular shape is visible on the bottom), held in place with wood or bone pegs (Maligiaq also uses glue).

Note that for throwing a harpoon, the wide edge is held, using the finger cutouts. For rolling most of the Greenlanders that I have observed hold the narrow end, or hold the norsaq in the middle. The channel on the underside allows a harpoon shaft to nestle against the norsaq. For rolling it also gives you a secure finger grip, and I recommend cutting the channel even if you aren't going to be throwing a harpoon.

Good references containing diagrams of variations on the throwing stick and harpoons, can be found in H.C. Petersen's "Skinboats of Greenland" and Scavenius P. Jensen's, "DEN GRONLANDSKE KAJAK OG DEN REDSKABER" (Danish). The latter book is out-of-print, but is sometimes available on book searches of used book dealers.

Greg Stamer

West Greenland Norsaq

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