A kayak is a flat, narrow boat usually propelled either by a single-bladed or double-bladed paddler. The word kayak actually originates in the Greenlandic language qajaq [qv] : “hest”, a past tense form of “k” for “bay”. The original single-bladed kayak had a single cockpit and deck, while the double-sided cockpit kayaks increased the flexibility of their use.
Most modern kayaks are still of single-bladed design. Some use double blades, and some have additional seats. Some can also be fitted with rudder and gear reduction systems. Kayaks can range in size from thirty to ninety feet, with a draft of six feet from the bow to the stern. Some models are specifically built as racing kayaks, and they are generally built for high-speed sports like kayak racing.
Modern kayaks can be modified with a variety of accessories such as electronics, seating and lighting. There are kayaks specially designed for fishing and other water sports. Others are used to surf along the coast or as backwoods boats. Recreational kayak use is widespread, although kayak manufacturers tend to target the older crowd. One of the most popular types of recreational kayak used today is the sit-on-top kayak, which allows passengers to sit up straight in the kayak and see the water.
Modern kayaks have undergone a great deal of evolution, and are now used in a variety of water sports. Kayaks are sometimes used to explore unknown waters, and may have equipment such as live bait attached to the paddle that can help locate fish. Other kayaks are used as boats, carrying people and supplies for day trips and longer adventures. Some of these kayaks are twin hulled, with two paddlers on each side. These types of kayaks have additional seating for more people.
The flat top kayak, which is also known as a float kayak, is another form of recreational water craft. It is used for swimming, surfing or kayaking in lakes and rivers. Many kayak manufacturers now offer sit-on-top models that are suitable for flat water. These kayaks have built-in cup holders for easy packing. Sit-on tops have become very popular for people who do not want to take a traditional kayak into the water.
The traditional style of kayak, the flat bottomed kayak, was developed in the 1920s and was originally developed for surfers. Flat bottomed kayaks have an open cockpit, and the water is kept at a constant temperature by using the bottom of the kayak as the platform. This type of kayak is good for swimming, kayaking, surfing and snorkeling. These kayaks are much larger than the sit-on top models.