In 1944, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation brought canoeing to the masses with the invention of the lightweight, low-maintenance aluminum canoe. Many paddlers today have a Grumman to thank for their earliest paddling memories (good or bad). Surprisingly, the aluminum kayak never took off in the same capacity as canoes. However, the lack of a market didn’t stop Brennen Kunka from getting crafty and building one of his own.
Kunka chronicles his metalwork projects through his YouTube channel, The Facility. Kunka acquired a set of wooden kayak kit plans and set to welding up the kayak, building his instead using aluminum alloy. You can watch the entire process through his part-one and part-two videos.
Ultimately, you may have the same question we do. Does this aluminum recreational-touring kayak float? Kunka’s answer is a three-day trip on the James River in Virginia, which proves the boat works. While the kayak could use a few blocks of interior foam, hatch covers, and increased outfitting, the design looks quick on the water.
Will welding up aluminum kayaks take over rotomolded plastic kayaks? Not likely, but if the opportunity to take Kunna’s build for a test paddle presented itself, we would take the chance to relive our Grumman days with a double blade.