All you Need to Know about Kayaks
Canoes and kayaks have been used for traveling rivers, lakes and even oceans for thousands of years. Kayaks were first used by the Inuit people of northern arctic regions around the North Atlantic, Arctic Ocean, Bering Sea and North Pacific. The term translates literally into “hunter’s boat.” These first boats were made from found driftwood and animal skins, mostly seal.
There are no trees in the arctic so each kayak was very unique. However, all were constructed similarly. Skins would be stitched together to create a tight seal around the frame as well as around the opening where the hunter would sit. This allowed the kayaker to stay dry even if the small boat flipped.
Users were skilled in the maneuver that is today known and practiced as the Eskimo roll.
This maneuver involves staying in the boat when it is upside down and using the paddle to right the boat. In older times, the sealed skin around the opening kept the individual dry.
Even the most skilled of these hunters couldn’t swim because the water is too cold to ever learn. One swimming lesson could be fatal in the Arctic Ocean, but most kayakers of today are excellent swimmers. On a modern kayak that seal is called the spray deck. It has the added ability to be disconnected in case the kayaker cannot perform an Eskimo roll correctly or in time.
While these boats were originally used for survival, especially hunting, they are now used almost entirely for recreation and entertainment. The sitting position is comfortable for paddling, the boats are small and maneuverable allowing them to go where other boats cannot and they are sealed from the waist down.
Whitewater kayaking has been gaining in popularity since the invention of durable, cheap composites and plastics. As a result, modern designs can take a huge amount of abuse, abrasions, and impacts while still maintaining both seal and shape.
Canoes were developed for similar reasons as kayaks, mostly for hunting and traveling short distances. However, they were created in warmer environments which contained trees. There was no need to worry about freezing water spilling over the sides of the boat. For that reason, their designs never required the completely sealed and surrounded surface.
In addition to this, these areas provided plenty of building materials. The first canoes were dug out from a single tree and carved into a seafaring design. Today, these styles are known as dugouts.
It was found that a kneeling position within the canoe allowed for a stronger stroke and more maneuverability. Of course, there is less stability and the boat has to have taller sides.
To support a kneeling paddler, a canoe has to be slightly larger than a kayak. Still, some play-boating canoes resemble a short, stubby kayak.
Kayak and canoe are widely used to travel and even sometimes for leisure. it is important to have a know-how of the Kayak and canoe.