Naming of PartsKayaks
It used to be that canoes were far and away the most common type of
recreational paddlecraft on the water. In recent years, though, this has
started to change. Kayaksthink of them as skinny, shallow canoes
with lidshave soared in popularity, and now they're everywhere you
look. Maybe that's why you're thinking about getting one.
Kayaks come in a great variety of lengths and widths, but they all
share some common characteristics. The accompanying illustration will help
you figure out what's what. It's a picture of a solo
kayakthat is, a kayak meant to be paddled by one person. If it were
a tandem kayak, it would have two seats.
You'll find the seat in a solo boat by looking inside the
cockpit, the large hole in the deck. (The bottom half of a kayak is
the hull; the top half is the deck.) A kayak's seat can
either be suspended from the cockpit rim or set directly on the bottom of
the boat. The smaller holes toward the ends of many boats are
hatches. They let you stow gear under the bow (front) and
stern (rear) deck, and then they let you get it out again without
growing five-foot-long arms. Hatches are closed with watertight covers. At
least the covers are supposed to be watertight. And some of them are, at
least some of the time.
Cockpit shapes and sizes vary. Some Greenland-style sea kayaks have
small, nearly circular cockpits. The cockpits in most modern recreational
and touring boats, though, are larger ovals. This is a good thing if
you're not as slim as you used to be. Folding kayakskayaks
made with removable fabric covers stretched over hinged wood or metal
framesoften have bigger cockpits still. Large or small, however, the
cockpits of most kayaks can be covered by a spray skirt, a sort of
waterproof kilt that you pull around your waist and then slip over the
cockpit rim, or coaming. This keeps the water where it
belongsoutside the boat.
Inside your kayak, you'll probably find two footbraces. These
are usually screwed or riveted along the seams of the boat, or (in poly
boats) in the places where the seams would be, if poly boats had seams.
You rest the balls of your feet against the footbraces and nestle your
knees against recesses or pads on the underside of the deck. If you've got
things adjusted just right, your boat will almost become an extension of
your body. Total control! It's a good feeling.
Often there are foam partitions inside a kayak, too. These are called
walls or bulkheads. They're glued or otherwise fastened in
place, where they act as stiffeners and help to prevent the deck from
collapsing. (This is only a problem if a capsized boat is pinned against a
rock or other obstacle. It's not something most flatwater paddlers need to
worry about.) Bulkheads can also be used to seal off one or both ends of
the kayak, forming watertight storage compartments for your gear. You load
these compartments through the aforementioned hatches.
If you really get into kayak touring, you'll probably want to outfit
your boat with all sorts of gadgets, from a deck compass to a bilge pump.
By that time, though, you won't need much help from me. You'll be well on
your way to becoming an expert. 'Nuff said.
Copyright © 2001 by Verloren Hoop Productions. All rights