When I took lessons at George Gronseth’s Kayak Academy a few years ago I noticed a moldering white Hypalon-coated skin−on−frame Greenland kayak in his storage shed, and the rotting skeletal remains of an old baidarka. George regularly offers classes on Greenland paddle making and has the distinction of being the first outsider ever to train at a kayak training camp in Greenland in 1990. The year before, he had met Greenland kayaking champion John Peterson and kayak historian John Heath in a traditional kayaking event in Kodiak, Alaska. The invitation to travel to Greenland grew out of that event.
George has some great slides of his Greenland trip, including some rare color pictures of actual seal skin kayaks. He says that it was a challenge to try to find a kayak in Greenland that would fit him. Eventually he was able to squeeze into the roomiest kayak I think by rubbing himself with seal fat and having one person pull up on the coaming of the kayak and another person lift the bow, which loosens the skin on the deck. Of course then there was the question of being able to get out.
By the way, the water they were training in was about 32 degrees and frequently littered with icebergs.
George tells a great story about how he was designated the chef for the end−of−training-camp barbeque, since he was the only one with barbeque experience. He set up an apparatus to roast a pig on a spit, rotating it around a scrap metal pole (found in an abandoned building on the site) and rocks to reflect the heat around the fire pit. He stuffed the inside of the pig with apples, and baked potatoes in the coals. He couldn't help being a little worried about how it would turn out, but the flesh was completely cooked and tender inside and the meal was a big success.
While on the subject of meat, I found it interesting that Maligiaq says it’s a big part of his diet; seal, whale, beef, pork −− all kinds. If you are looking for the secret to his athletic prowess maybe that's it. George says that seal meat contains vitamins that are not found in beef, namely vitamin C. That’s how the Inuit have been able to survive while eating a diet consisting entirely of meat. These days fresh fruits and vegetables have to be shipped in from Denmark. Well, maybe global warming will change all that.
So I'm guessing it's probably impossible to be a vegan in Greenland. You have to wonder if for genetic reasons Inuits an Inuk wouldn't simply just up and die on a vegan diet.