The kayak is a unique water vessel that was developed by the Inuit people who live in the Arctic regions around Greenland. The conditions around the arctic region are very hostile with the temperatures here being very low often below freezing point. The seas and waters around the places where the Inuit people live are therefore usually very cold.
Despite the waters being very cold in these regions, they have been home to the source of food for the Inuit people for many centuries. The Inuit have been hunting in these waters for seals, sea lions, sea otters, whales and fish. These animals have been major sources of Inuk protein apart from the periods when the climate allows them to hunt for the migratory caribou.
Hunting in the cold water is a dangerous affair. This is because falling into the water will most often mean certain death from asphyxiation due to the chilly waters. The Inuk are known to wear very heavy clothes to protect against the cold weather but these clothes prove to be a liability when one falls into water. The clothes will soak and quickly cause the individual to drown.
The kayak was an invention that provided a safe vessel that the Inuit people could use in their hunting expeditions.
The original Inuit kayak was made of a solid frame that was made of light materials such as whale bones or light drift wood. The frame was then covered using stretched seal skins which were then sewn together. The seal skin seams were then made water proof using whale fat. The resultant kayak was a very light vessel that could be easily maneuvered and navigated.
The design of the kayak also helped in its maneuverability.
The original kayak design was such that it was a hollow vessel that had a small opening on top which was the pilot’s cockpit into which one sat. When in the cockpit, the pilot’s lower body and legs would be buried in the kayak and only his upper body would be exposed atop the kayak. The pilot could use his legs and body to steer the kayak.
The design and materials used to make the kayak have evolved a great deal from the days of the first Inuit kayak to the present day kayaks. Today there are many types of kayaks including kayaks that are specially designed for recreational use.
These are kayaks that are used for activities such as leisurely enjoying the sun and breeze while paddling in calm waters, paddling leisurely while birdwatching, taking photographs, enjoying the scenery, observing marine wildlife, and diving among other fun activities.
Recreational kayaks usually have a sit on top design as compared to the sit in design of the original Inuit kayak. The sit on top kayak design allows the pilot to have his entire body exposed atop the kayak and hence one can enjoy the elements of nature better such as enjoying the warm sun rays.
Recreational kayaks are made such that they are ideal for beginners. A good example of modern kayaks that are good for beginners are the inflatable kayaks.