Kayaks are small boats that can be extremely versatile and tons of fun! A kayaker propels the boat using a double bladed paddle. There are many different variations, each one designed for a different type of condition or water.
Kayaks were originally made and used by native groups in northern, sub-Artic areas like what is now Canada, Greenland and parts of Asia. These boats allowed fishermen to get close to their prey while not causing any disturbance in the water. Kayak fishing still exists, as well as kayak sailing, white water kayaking, sea kayaking and the list goes on and on. In the continuation of this article we will outline the different forms of kayaking and how that modifies the form of the boat. Depending on the kayaker´s location, skills and interests the kayak is chosen.
These kayaks are the bog-standard paddling boat and are apt for paddling on calm waters like lade or rivers. These are usually the boats that a kayaker would learn on (and which many of our our kayak providers use)and as they are using made of polyethylene and are of the least expensive type of kayak. In size they usually measure up at unless than 12 feet (3.7m) and they have a larger cockpit for easy entry and exits and they can be single seaters or tandems and lack cargo space.
Sea kayaks are kayaks built for stability to deal with the waters of the sea and ocean as these waters can destablilise the boat. They are made FROM and they usually have a rudder or skeg which keeps the kayak from being blown off course by the waves. The rudder is often controlled by foot pedals that the kayaker has at his or her feet and it can be pulled up for exit and entry so as not to damage it. A skeg is a fixed rudder which cannot be removed. The form of the boat also consists in an upturned bow or stern which is designed for wave shedding. They can have one, two or three cockpits for more paddlers.
These kayaks are open as they are designed for kayakers who need to be able to get in and out easily. Fishermen, scuba divers and wave surfers (often we see these boats being used at holiday resorts as well) are often those who choose this version of the kayak. They are usually made of polyethylene like the recreational kayak is as this material proves to be strong and durable. There is also usually a skeg for dealing with the rougher waters and keeping the boat from being bullied by currents and waves.
The water than enters into the kayak through what is called a scupper: these are tubes that are linked from the cockpit to the bottom of the hull. Due to the design of the craft which has the kayaker raised above the water, these kayaks are wider to deal with what would be instability for the boat.
These kayaks are used for doing just what the name implies, surfing in ocean surf waves. They come in two varieties, High Performance (HP) and International Class (IC) and are normally made from fiberglass or plastic which can be heavy or light. These kayaks were designed for loads of fun and exhilaration. The HP models are dynamic boats that move quickily and are easy to control. They have a flat hill and they have what are called ¨fins¨. The IC are longer and can be called ¨long boarding¨ but they cannot have fins and they have concave hulls.
Racing kayaks are sleek boats designed to go fast! They are narrow in order to create the least ¨wetted surface area¨ possible; however they cannot be too narrow because that would cause them to be impossible to keep upright. For ultimate lightless and durability, they are made out of fiber enforced resin which prevents the boat from getting scratches which even though it sounds unbelievable, it can slow the boat down. The more surface of the kayak touches the water, the more friction will be created which the kayaker has to fight when paddling.
There are also white water racing kayaks which have hulls that tend to be turned up to give extra stability for the uneven water surface. They do not have rudders and share a lot in common with the flat water racing kayaks.
Last but not least...White Water Kayaks
White Water Kayaks are designed to be durable and withstand quite a beating! Made of plastic (polyethylene is using the plastic of choice) they are able to endure quite a lot of abuse from rocks although, as everything, they do give in eventually. They can range in size from as short as 3 feet to 10 feet long and there are 5 types of these boats: Squirt boats, which due to their low volume are great for certain moves and tricks in the rapids, Playboating (which can also be known as Freestyle or Rodeo) and the difference with these kayaks is that they tend to not move around the water, yet they stay in one spot using a hole created by a current or a wave in order to perform certain tricks and stunts, River Runners which generally go downstream and Creeking (which borrows traits from River Runners) which consists in extreme river running and paddling and battling ledges, slides and even waterfalls.
The boast duller bows and sterns in order to avoid getting wedged between rocks and they are designed with a higher volume (this refers to the amount of water that is displaced by the boat).
After these brief descriptions, we hope that the world of kayaking seems a bit simpler. If you´re just starting out, obviously it would be best to choose a recreational kayak but now you know what offer options are waiting for you when you get the hang of paddling! To get started, have a gander at our kayaking providers today!