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History of the Sea Kayak

Kayaks were developed over hundreds of years. Indigenous cultures spent centuries designing and redesigning, fixing flaws, or altering to changing skill levels. The final outcomes were kayaks with a supreme design for a particular region and People.

greenland_kayak

Peoples of the Arctic created several designs, depending on what materials were part of their culture. Most kayaks were fabricated using wood for the frame and then tied together using sinew, or tendons, with a seal skin cover. Other kayaks were made from whalebone or driftwood. A sea lion skin may then have been used as a covering, with whale fat as a sealant. And yet, the designs of Greenland, the Baffin and Aleutian Islands, as well as the Bering Strait, were all extremely unique.

The kayaks from Greenland were sleek and low, whereas Baffin Island kayaks were known for being wider, longer and were a much higher volume. A high coaming around the cockpit was a clever design to keep the paddler dry come rough conditions. Kayaks from the Bering Strait were short and known for their stability. The Aleuts are known for a design with a clever forked bow to cut through waves.

The kayak was useful for transport but it was a miraculous hunting tool, facilitating a quiet approach towards one's desired prey. It is said that occasionally a white cloth would be strung over the front of the kayak to imitate a section of ice drifting towards the hunted creature.

When kayaking became a leisure sport for non-Natives is not known for sure, but many believe it was introduced to Western cultures when John MacGregor constructed a kayak and travelled Europe in 1845.

Today, kayaking is accessible to all skill levels, providing a quiet and fuel-free form of breathtaking travel, exploration and exercise.

References

"Kayaking Through Time with the Inuit".
Pilot destination guide, http://www.pilotguides.com/destination_guide/europe/iceland-greenland/kayaking_through_time.php

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