Kayaking facts for kids
Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving over water.
A kayak is a low-to-the-water, canoe-like boat in which the paddler sits facing forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle to pull front-to-back on one side and then the other in rotation. Most kayaks have closed decks, although sit-on-top and inflatable kayaks are growing in popularity as well.
Kayaks were created thousands of years ago by the Inuit, formerly known as Eskimos, of the northern Arctic regions. They used driftwood and sometimes the skeleton of whale, to construct the frame of the kayak, and animal skin, particularly seal skin was used to create the body. The main purpose for creating the kayak, which literally translates to "hunter's boat" was for hunting and fishing. The kayak's stealth capabilities allowed for the hunter to sneak up behind animals on the shoreline and successfully catch their prey.
In the 1740s, Russian explorers led by the Danish explorer Vitus Bering came in contact with the Aleutians, who had taken the basic kayak concept and developed multiple designs specifically for hunting, transportation, and environmental conditions. They soon recognized the Aleutians were very skillful at hunting sea otters by kayak. Because otters were a popular commodity in Europe and Asia, they would exploit and even kidnap Aleutians and keep them aboard their ships to work and hunt.
By the mid-1800s the kayak became increasingly popular and the Europeans became interested. German and French men began kayaking for sport. In 1931, Adolf Anderle was the first person to kayak down the Salzachöfen Gorge, which is believed to be the birthplace of modern-day white-water kayaking. Kayak races were introduced in the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936.
In the 1950s, fiberglass kayaks were developed and commonly used, until 1980s when polyester and polyethylene plastic kayaks were introduced. Kayaking progressed as a fringe sport in the U.S. until the 1970s, when it became a mainstream popular sport. Now, more than 10 white water kayaking events are featured in the Olympics. While kayaking represents a key international watersport, few academic studies have (to date) been conducted on the role kayaking plays in the lives and activities of the public
Kayaks differ in design and the materials from which they are made. Each design has its specific advantage, including performance, manoeuvrability, stability and paddling style. Kayaks can be made of metal, fibreglass, wood, plastic, fabrics, and inflatable fabrics such as PVC or rubber, and more recently expensive but feather light carbon fiber. Each material also has its specific advantage, including strength, durability, portability, flexibility, resistance to ultraviolet and storage requirements. For example, wooden kayaks can be created from kits or built by hand. Stitch and glue, plywood kayaks can be lighter than any other material except skin-on frame. Inflatable kayaks, made from lightweight fabric, can be deflated and easily transported and stored, and are considered to be remarkably tough and durable compared to some hard-sided boats.
Activities involving kayaks
Because of their range and adaptability, kayaks can be useful for other outdoor activities such as diving, fishing, wilderness exploration and search and rescue during floods.
Kayak diving is a type of recreational diving where the divers paddle to a diving site in a kayak carrying all their gear to the place they want to dive. The range can be up to several kilometres along the coastline from the launching point to a place where access would be difficult from the shore, although the sea is sheltered. It is a considerably cheaper alternative to using a powered boat, as well as combining the experience of sea kayaking at the same time. Kayak diving gives the diver independence from dive boat operators, while allowing dives at sites which are too far to comfortably swim, but are sufficiently sheltered.
Kayak fishing is fishing from a kayak. The kayak has long been a means of transportation and a stealth means of approaching easily spooked fish, such as cobia and flounder. Kayak fishing has gained popularity in recent times due to its broad appeal as an environmentally friendly and healthy method of transportation, as well as its relatively low cost of entry compared to motorized boats. In addition, kayaks allow greater access by their ability to operate in shallow water, getting in and out along the shoreline, and having the ability to get away from the crowds to find a more solitary environment where boats may not have the ability to do so.
Ecotourism based on kayak trips is gaining in popularity. In warm-water vacation destinations such as Sarasota Keys, guided kayak trips take kayakers on a tour of the local ecosystem. Kayakers can watch dolphins breach and manatees eat seagrass, in shallow bay water.
One of the most common uses of kayaks for hobbyists is whitewater kayaking. Whitewater kayaking is when a kayaker traverses down a series of rapids. The difficulty of these rapid ranges from Class I to Class VI. The difficulty of rapids often changes with water level and debris in the river. Debris that inhibits a kayaker's path are often called "strainers" as they "strain" out the kayakers like a colander. There are often training camps as well as man-made structures to help train kayakers.
A surfski (or: "surf ski", "surf-ski") is generally the longest of all kayaks and is a performance oriented kayak designed for speed on open water, most commonly the ocean, although it is well suited to all bodies of water and recreational paddling.
Winter kayaking is inherently more dangerous than regular paddling, as cold water and air temperatures can quickly lead to hypothermia. The activity requires the use of clothing that negates the effects of the elements on the kayaker.
Kayaking Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.