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What is a kayak?

There is an awful lot of talk about kayaks on this board ;-) which led me to thinking - is it OK that we call recreational boats, whitewater boats, inflatables and sit-on-tops "kayaks". Most of them have very little to do with a "quyaq" - a long narrow hunting boat. I'm not nitpicking on word use, just want to see what other people think about it. Somehow it makes more sense to me when people say "whitewater boat" rathern than "whitewater kayak". But that's just me.


  • You're right. It is just you.
  • Options
    more about paddle than boat
    There's a whole spectrum of vessels and ways to propel them so it's all a blur. But for most practical purposes anything where you sit and use a two bladed paddle is a kayak. So yes, in a way a canoe that happens to be paddled in such a way is a kayak. For most discussions it's wise to include the type of kayak.
  • Options
    canoe bit reminds me of...
    - "Can a bicycle be Air Force One?"
    - "No."
    - "Suppose the President riding one falls off a cliff?"
  • Then it would be...
    ...Tour de Force One.
  • "kayak" and "canoe" are cluster
    concepts. "Dog" is a cluster concept. "Whitewater boat" is a cluster concept.

    There's a bunch of features that often, maybe almost always, pertain to a kayak. Some of those features may be absent, and people will still be confident that it is a kayak. The same is true for canoes.

    But I could not accept junking the appellation "ww kayak" for "ww boat". A c-1 is also a decked boat, but the paddler is in a very different position, paddling canoe style. An 8 man raft qualifies as a ww boat. A giant Grand Canyon baloney boat is a ww boat.

    If I'm writing an account of a club trip on whitewater, will the participants be happy if I say "There were fifteen people in whitewater boats"? They're expecting me to say there were 6 kayaks 2 c-1s, a rubber ducky, 4 OC-1s, and a tandem.

    Registering with the USFS, BLM, or NPS before running a river usually entails listing the specific kind of craft. There was a time when c-1s were not allowed on certain western rivers, although they are certainly ww boats. Distinctions count.
  • Options
    Kayak definition
    -- Last Updated: Nov-15-13 1:51 PM EST --

    Having visited the traditional kayak museum in Portland Oregon, the old world variations are just as diverse as today's "kayaks". I'd say the most universal attributes would be:

    -small narrow displacement mono-hull
    -propelled by a double bladed paddle
    -paddler(s) seated toward the middle
    -craft is typically decked and can "enclose" the paddler about the waist line for water tightness

    So basically a plastic Hobbie SOT foot pedal boat barely qualifies, whereas my pygmy arctic tern with hard chines and cedar GP paddle is as close to traditional without going the skin on frame route...

  • They're all canoes
    This side of the pond.

    Then you define the type of canoe.
  • ICF definition
    In whitewater slalom, if you sit on your knees and use a single blade, you are paddling a canoe. If you sit with your legs in front of you and use a double bladed paddle, you are paddling a kayak. Both are boats, vessels that are used on water.

    (in Greenland, a kayak is a qajaq, not a boat, but we are not in Greenland)
  • I'm on SOTP a lot, and UK paddlers
    consistently draw a distinction between canoes and kayaks. I have not seen anyone trying to lump them together.
  • Options
    Amount of Material
    Just put some material on a canoe
    - and you'll have a kayak

  • Want to go for a paddle?
    I have a boat you can use.

    Did I just make your head explode?

  • BCU
    -- Last Updated: Nov-16-13 2:36 PM EST --

    Covers both kayaks & canoes. Most shops trade under the term "canoe"

    Need I go on ?

  • president falls off...
    that would be called a reason to celebrate
  • Irrelevant. We all know that most in
    the UK were deluded about the kayak and canoe distinction, way back when the BCU lurched toward Bethlehem.

    There are now many paddling canoes in the UK, and calling them canoes. Maybe, like Cary Grant, you've been away in the tropics too long? In the sun?
  • Is it winter time already?
    Sounds like it and we in for it if this type of question is appearing already.
    And to answer the original question. Yes, you are nitpicking. Just get in the boat and "paddle on", as Frank would say. :)
  • Why would that be? Spray covers
    have been added to canoes for quite some time. And, we have decked canoes, of which I have owned several. Of course, people call them kayaks, but they're wrong.
  • Options
    As with most things
    Not always easy to write a complete definition, but pretty easy to identify most of the time -- at least when you see it paddled. The same hull can often be converted from kayak to a C-1.

    Then one dat you see a squirt boat diving in an eddy line and you ask yourself is that even a boat?". :-)
  • Except in UK where kayak = Canoe
    I had a very strange conversation in Scotland once trying to rent a "Canoe"
  • Really full of yourself
    Aren't you. Just another yank who thinks he knows more about the UK than someone who lives here. (There are plenty on the B&B board just like you)

    Of course the distinctions are known amongst those who are involved in the sport but as far as the general public are concerned the generic term is "CANOE".

    Many of the dealers selling paddling equipment use the main term Canoes with kayaks as a sub heading.

    Now get back to being the advice board monitor !!
  • My take
    When helping people getting into paddling,I tell them anything you sit on the bottom of and paddle with a dubble paddle is for practical purposes a kayak. If you shut your eyes they all feel similar.A canoe is a boat you can sit or high kneel in and use a single blade. Bet I'll get some purest objections to this,notice I said"for practical purposes".
  • This is just the latest iteration
    of a really really old discussion. It's far from a new topic.

    I think I will take Frank in Miamis advice. PADDLE ON! Maybe in a King Island Kayak..traditionally paddled with a single blade.

    Folks there are no hard and fast edges so lets not try to make boxes out of rubber.
  • it's a type of canoe
    From Oxford English dictionary:
    • a canoe of a type used originally by the Inuit, made of a light frame with a watertight covering having a small opening in the top to sit in.

    For those who prefer Merriam Webster:
    1: an Eskimo canoe made of a frame covered with skins except for a small opening in the center and propelled by a double-bladed paddle
    2: a portable boat styled like an Eskimo kayak
  • I have converted a c-1 to a kayak, and
    what made it a kayak was that I could only paddle it sitting on the bottom of the hull, using a double bladed paddle.

    When a kayak is converted to c-1, it can only be paddled kneeling with a single blade.

    That seems to suggest the key distinction. But we can all keep a gentle grip on our cluster concepts.

    This was a pointless thread that should have been on the Discussion Forum, or on the pile of fuzzy thinking.
  • It's so nice to be able to jettison
    your own judgement, and rely on people you never met, and who never paddled a thing.
  • Really full of yourself
    How do you know what the contributors to that august document do for a hobby.

    Get back to your monitors job or I'll set Mutjob onto you !!
  • Thus speaks the monitor.
  • get over yourself g2d
    I'd think by now, you'd have realized no one takes you nearly as seriously as you take yourself.
  • glad to annoy you and cocky.
  • "amuse" is more appropriate
  • Certainly is
    Very amusing !
  • the dictionary annoys g2d
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