Kayaks were the invention of the Inuit peoples (formerly called "Eskimos") of the Arctic. They were hunting boats; frames made of wood or bone with animal skins stretched over them. They were light and tough—but not so light and tough as modern composite plastic and Kevlar versions.
Kayaks differ from canoes primarily in that the top is closed over in most, helping to keep water out. Consequently, bow and stern do not have to be upswept as in a canoe, and wind resistance is lessened as a result. Most kayaks are designed for one person only, although a few, such as the Pamlico series from Wilderness Systems, can handle two people.
Kayaks are narrower than canoes, usually designed for only one person, and feature a closed deck rather than an open hull. They're designed to be paddled with a two-bladed paddle.
(Photo credit: Wilderness Systems)
Kayaks tend to be narrower in the beam than canoes and are designed for double-bladed paddles that dip on both sides, rather than the single-blade used on one side as in the canoe. Kayaks have less load capacity than canoes, typically half as much at a given length.
Because the paddler sits low in the water, they tend to be more stable at a given beam width. (Narrow touring kayaks can be tippy, however!)
Typical general-purpose kayaks measure about 28 to 32 inches wide, while touring models are 22 to 24 inches wide. As with canoes, wider models are more stable and carry greater loads but are slower and harder to paddle.
Serious kayakers also are concerned with volume, the amount of space enclosed by the entire outer hull of the kayak, which affects its buoyancy. A high-volume kayak floats like a ping-pong ball and is the preferred boat for beginners learning white-water tactics as well as for straight-line white-water racers. Low-volume models, which look almost like javelins, are the choice of the most skilled of slalom racers and trick paddlers, but are far too tippy for amateurs.
Volume, as it's applied to kayaks, refers to the total space enclosed by the outer hull. It's a way of measuring the buoyancy of one kayak desigr against another.
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Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.