Mrs. Deal and Mr. White
March 31, 2014
The Kayak: Earth’s Beloved Vessel
The Kayak is one of the most versatile man powered water craft that has ever been around on the waters of planet Earth. The kayak can be used on a small pond, large lake, calm river, raging river, or the wide open seas. There are kayak variations for every situation, and their history and development have allowed these changes to be custom made for the type of paddling that can be done. Through the proper use of gear and technique, one can become a proficient kayaker in their desired realm.
The word kayak is said to mean “hunter’s boat”, since it was first created by the Inuit and Aleut tribes of the North American Arctic regions. They built two types of kayaks for their hunting needs, and environmental resources. One type of kayak was built using the wood that was laying around shores once tides brought in scraps of buoyant wood. The other type of kayak would be built by the use of whale bones and animal skins to make a hard frame and soft, water-tight shell around the outside.
Whale fat would be the waterproofing material for either of the vessels that the natives used. A trick that they would use in order to keep the vessels extremely buoyant even in harsh conditions would be to fill seal bladders with air, secure them shut, and then proceed to tuck them in the front and rear creases of the boat as well as the middle sides of the boat.
Most boats used by the hunters would look similar to the modern day idea of a kayak and were small and maneuverable, but some longer versions used to carry more weight and people were also used. Those boats were called umiaqs, capable of carrying an entire family and all of their supplies. Some of the boats were up to sixty feet in length.
The kayak was found to be in Europe by the middle of the 19th century as a boat very similar to the Native Kayak, made of a soft shell around a hard structure. The Germans and French soon used kayaks for entertainment and sport, rather than as a means of survival. Kayaks still remained useful in the arctic regions of the world as they were used in exploration of the North Pole and South Pole later on. Once the kayak became more well-known and loved, kayaks became white-water explorers. The first publicly known white-water run was done in a kayak in 1931 in the Salzachofen Gorge located in Austria. Adolf Anderle was the man to make the run in a gorge that is still popular today for water sports.
The International Scale of River Difficulty was established closely after these events to give an idea of how dangerous a rapid is and is still used today. The range is from a scale of 1 to 6. 1 being small ripples up to 6 being impossible to run without death.
By 1936, the Summer Olympic games included kayak racing in Berlin, Germany. The United States became kayakers after this point, and Genevieve De Colmont paddled the Green River and Colorado River’s whitewater. In the 1950’s,...