Kayaks: from the old to the new


Andrew in a skin on frame kayak
Photo courtesy of Cape Falcon Kayak

Adapted from Wikipedia and the links below by Nancy Carson
Level 3

Many people in Canada love to be outdoors.
Some like to paddle on B.C.’s lakes or on oceans nearby.
A favorite boat of outdoor people is the canoe.
The word “canoe” came from kenu in the Carib language,
and canoa from Spanish. These words mean “dugout”.
A dugout is a boat made from a log.
Another favorite boat is the kayak.
Kayak is a word from the Inuit people.
It means “man’s boat”.

Reading by: Jessica Heafey


A canoe
Photo by Wikipedia contributor Motorrad-67

The story of kayaks
Kayaks are at least 4,000 years old.
Over 7,000 years ago, humans left Siberia and travelled to Alaska.
They moved into northern Canada and east to Greenland.
The land they found was frozen and barren.
But these people survived and they thrived.
These people were called Inuit.

The common good
The Inuit believed in “working for the common good”.
They shared what they had. They served and cared for others.
No one was above anyone else in the group.
Each person was responsible to the others in the group.

Respect for all living things
The Inuit respected all living things, plant and animal.
They used stories to explain life and to teach lessons.
There was no written language then.

Search for food
Inuit often searched for food in the frigid oceans.
The western Inuit used driftwood for their boat frames.
In the east, they used whale bonebecause no trees grew.
Animal skins covered these frames.
Small covered boats were for hunting seals, otters, caribou and fish.
Open, larger kayaks carried many passengers and goods.

Man’s boat
Each man made his own kayak.
The length was three times the span of his outstretched arms.
The width of the opening was the width of his hips plus two fists.
The boat was as deep as his fist plus his outstretched thumb.
So, most kayaks were 6.2 m long, 51 – 56 cm wide and 18 cm deep.

Modern builder, old method
Some modern kayaks still use the “skin on frame” method.
Brian Schulz owns Cape Falcon Kayak on the Oregon Coast in the U.S.
He uses cedar for the frame, bamboo for the ribs and nylon for the skin.
He will teach you to build your own, if you like.
For $1,300 and a week of work, you can have a kayak and a paddle.
His kayaks weigh about 12 kg.


Modern skin on frame kayak seen from the inside, at Cape Falcon Kayak
Photo courtesy of Cape Falcon Kayak

Wood strip kayaks
Jürgen Köppen spends about 350 hours building each of his kayaks.
He uses different kinds of wood strips. Wood kayaks are much heavier.
You can choose a style of kayak which suits your needs.
His kayaks are works of art with beautiful designs on them.

Jurgen with a 17 ft. wood kayak on his B.C. property
Photo courtesy of Jurgen Koppen