Skin Boat

a coracle; a canoe made of hide


A Skin Boat is the hide of one large animal sewn over a frame made of wood, such as willow. It is shaped like a squarish oval. The boat works better if the hair is left on: it stays watertight longer, and it helps with the water flow.

After being brought onto land, a personal Skin Boat can be turned over and used as a shelter for the night.


Skin Boats are still made by Native Americans. They were used extensively at the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Shoshone would tether a bunch together like a train, and two people at the front would row. Skin Boat paddles sometimes have a hole in them to stabilize the stroke through the water.

A small Skin Boat can be made from one buffalo hide. The Eskimo culture people make long boats out of two walrus hides that can carry 25 people and up to 5 tons of cargo. The hides weigh 500 pounds each. Other ingredients for the project are wood for the frame, whale sinew for the sewing, and blubber for waterproofing.

Skin Boat