Has definition of kayak "evolved" ?

Yeah, I just can’t make myself care…
… about this either. Naturally if I’m talking to someone I just met and they say they go kayaking, or that they call themselves a kayaker, my own background interests will allow me to ask whatever questions I wish which will clarify exactly what it is that they do. If they’ve done 50-mile crossings in fog or rough weather, I’ll know they won’t be inviting me on such trips, and if all they do is poke around near shore in a fat rec boat, I’ll know not to invite them on a long river trip, or one that requires good maneuvering and river-reading skills. Either way, they are happy and so am I, so I just can’t imagine a reason to worry about applying strict boundaries to this terminology.

“Canoe” and "kayak"
Think of these words as verbs, not nouns, and you have your answer.


Unless you are from Europe, in which case you may come to the opposite answer.

no like button but i +1 you on pnet

Speaking of which…
… when did it become okay for a whitewater kayak to look a whole lot more like a fishing lure than a traditional kayak, both in terms of its size and shape? We call them kayaks, but I bet if you could go back in time and show whitewater kayakers of the 60s and 70s a modern playboat, their initial reaction would be “what the hell is that thing? THAT’S not a kayak!”

Lines blurred
I think the lines blur a bit between kayak and canoe when you start trying to define one or the other.

Kayaks are generally decked…but there are decked canoes. Canoes are generally knelt in…but there are canoes you sit in.

Canoes you sit in generally have a seat…but there are pack boats where you sit on “the floor”

Either boat can be paddled double or single bladed.

I think that to define a kayak versus a canoe that the amount of draft would be a critical factor.

Good point above about rec boats getting more people involved in kayaking. I can buy that. But still don’t necessarily concede that they are kayaks. They are…boats. And there is nothing wrong with boats. I just prefer kayaks and canoes…ha, ha.

By the way, I play miniature golf…can I tell others that I am a golfer? I am sure that miniature golf has caused the sport of golf to grow. It’s still golf right?

I have a BMX bike too, so I also consider myself an avid cyclist.

I know, I know. I am pushing it. Sorry.

I agree that there are blurred lines. Just frustrating a little when no one understands your sport because all they can envision is the “miniature golf” version of that sport and most people have absolutely no concept of what…true…sea kayaking is about.

While both sports have their place and merit, I would argue that they are rather distinctly different.

With all due respect of course…

Heck, when questions of a definition comes up isn’t it reasonable to first look at a dictionary? As paddlers I think we’re a bit inclined to add items to a cluster - but those are more specific definitions than those used by the rest of the world.

To a sailor or a navy man a ship and a boat are very different things, but not to most users of the English language.

My Webster’s New World says a kayak is 1)an Eskimo canoe* made of skins completely covering a wooden frame except for an opening in the middle for the paddler* 2)any similarly designed canoe* for one or two paddlers* made of canvas, plastic, fiberglass, etc.

A canoe is a narrow light boat with its sides meeting in a sharp edge at each end: it is moved by one or more paddles.

So paddles are a required means of propulsion for both and a kayak is a canoe with special features, like a deck of some sort. So if “canoe” is a family, “kayak” is a genus and so is “Canadian canoe” in other parts of the world. SOTs, rec kayaks, and such might be considered species or perhaps cultivars.

Like you, I look at some of these species rather like I look at dandelions or other introduced weed species. But, like an orchid grower or other avid plant fanatic, I know I’m looking with the rather jaundiced eye of something of a specialist rather than just any old user of English. And introduced weeds are often not entirely without beauty and they can certainly be successful, at least in the short term or in badly disturbed environments. Like the commercial marketplace.

I personally usually add to the cluster that a canoe paddler kneels or sits above the floor of the craft and uses a single blade. A kayaker sits on the floor and uses a double blade.

Specialty organizations or race organizers, of course, add yet more to their clusters, and if we’re involved with such groups, we need to accept their definitions. Just as we would accept class definitions of the organization in charge if we were entering orchids in an orchid show or dogs in a dog show.

Rec boats and SOTs (which, after all, do have a deck of sorts and an opening in the center for a paddler) give me far less definitional problems than decked sailing canoes like some of the Rushtons which seem barely paddleable in the conventional sense - or the PacBoats which violate my personal additions to the “cluster” but not the common usage definitions.

I don’t see how paddle boards fit anywhere… If I were really serious about such systematics, I’d put them in a different family. Looks like they could be fun though…

And of course there are folks of various skills and desires that can be found using (or trying to use) any of these watercraft. My guess is that what they (or we) start out paddling is probably pretty much a matter of chance - who they know that got them started, where they happen to live, what they can easily afford… And like any of us, if they keep at whatever it is they’re doing, they’ll get better at it. Maybe later they’ll get a boat more in line with their needs or goals. If not, they’ll drop out and there’ll be another bargain boat for someone to try their hand at.

Its all good if it gets folks safely on the water without a motor.

Just my $0.02.

i dont call myself
A kayaker. It’s not a real thing. Unless you get paid to do it.

I went to culinary school and don’t let people refer to me as chef. It’s annoying.

Ryan L.

Let’s keep it simple
Here’s an end to the argument: If it’s made of seal skin over a whalebone frame held together with caribou sinew, it’s a kayak.

Everything else is a boat.

Baidarka vs Qajaq

– Last Updated: Jan-29-13 12:07 PM EST –

Ancient word search game - and their meanings

Qajaq is simply Inuit spelling for ‘kayak’.
Of course the Inuit had no written language,
and this spelling was invented by missionaries.

Aleutian Baidarka simply means ‘small boat’ in Russian

Some claim indigenous paddle craft are ‘canoes’
Carib Indian ‘kanu’ derivative

Language and marketing in 2013+ will be interesting indeed

Maybe Canoe Poling is considered a 2 sided thrust
and deserves kayak status in the future ?

Two different sports
I think that now there are two different types of kayaking, sea and rec. I sm sure that there are many paddlers (myself included) that can only wish to see the sea for lack of location or funds for a sea kayak. I think that knowledgable rec kayaking should be considered kayaking, but not in the same level as kayaking on the ocean.