The basics of kayaking
What you need to enjoy kayaking, a wonderful water sport.
Kayaking is a great outdoor sport for those wishing to get to know the outdoors and get a little closer to the water, all while getting great exercise and not polluting the environment. So learn more about kayaking basics and the different types of vessels, and you might find that you want to try kayaking out yourself!
Kayaks were originally a Native American invention. Indian tribes living along the coast of Alaska and Greenland developed the watercraft for use when hunting seals or other aquatic life. Kayaks were single man vessels, and tended to be very light and thin. The original design used a wooden frame and stretched hide covering, which made the craft waterproof. The kayaker used a single or double bladed paddle, and traditional kayakers were masters of speed and navigation skills, which they used when on the dangerous hunts.
Today, kayaks are made from plastics and synthetic materials, and are much easier and safer to use. Retaining the same small shape, kayaks come in one or two person varieties, but are still thin and fast craft. The sharp shape of the kayak allows it to cut through the water quickly, and their thin design, though it makes the vessel slightly easier to tip over, also allows the craft to roll. Thus, the experienced kayaker is able to flip over underwater and right themselves automatically.
Kayaks can be anything from a basic kayak design with a molded seat, to complicated self-bailing models that have chambers to store clothing and other items. There are also a wide variety of kayak types, from the basic one-person models, to larger two person or heavy-duty kayaks. Depending on their intended use, kayaks can be open top, meaning the paddler sit in the kayak with nothing over them, or closed, where a waterproof material covers the paddler and attaches to the kayak, closing off the inside of the vessel and making it water tight. Having a closed kayak is essential for rough weather or cold water, as the design does not allow water into the craft. Similarly, only closed kayaks are able to roll.
Types of Kayaks:
There are four main types of modern kayaks, that allow the user to kayak in almost any type of conditions. The most common is the basic recreational model, with the open top, light weight, and simple design. Perfect for kids or adults going out for the day on still water, the recreational kayak is the easiest to handle and use. The second type is the slightly more complicated touring kayak, which is built for multiple-day excursions on a variety of types of water. With self-bailing mechanisms as well as a stronger design, the touring kayak can protect the paddler from rough or cold seas while keeping their equipment safe and dry. Next is the whitewater kayak, made for steep descents in very rough water. With a much shorter design and a hull that can withstand impact on rocks, the whitewater kayak is much more manoeverable than any other type of kayak. Finally there is the racing kayak, built for speed and precision, with a sharp edge to cut through the water like a knife.
Paddles ? There are a variety of kayak paddles available for use, the most common of which is the double-bladed model. With blades on both sides of the paddle, these allow paddlers to hold the paddle in the middle and switch which end is in the water. By pulling on both sides, the paddler is often able to get more speed and power into their strokes. Other types of paddles exist for other specific kayak types, such as the whitewater paddle, which is designed to scoop more water and give more power to the kayaker, and racing paddles, which are designed with minimal drag and maximum efficiency.
Finally, every kayaker must wear proper safety equipment. For whitewater kayakers this means a proper helmet in case of collision. For touring kayakers or people out in colder water, this means a wetsuit, to avoid hypothermia. And for all kayakers, including recreational ones, this means a proper life vest, to keep the kayaker afloat in case of capsizing or losing their vessel.