Kayak Overview

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 35,494
    Kayak instructor Mike Aronoff breaks down the different features you might find on typical kayak for recreational activities.

    Mike Aronoff

    Mike is an American Canoe Association highest level Instructor Trainer Educator in both Coastal and River Kayaking as well as WW Canoe. He is also a British canoe Union Coach with the 4 Star award in Sea Kayak. He is the Chairman of the Coastal Kayak Committee of the USA and on the ACA Safety Education and Instruction Committee. Mike has co authored a number of books on paddling and wrote the ACA Kayak Trip Leading Course. He is a guest instructor in many parts of the US for various programs. He is the owner/general manager of Canoe Kayak and Paddle Co. LLC, a northern Virginia based paddling school and outfitter with an Annapolis, MD branch. Mike is also a registered Idaho Guide and leads trips there and locally. He is most active in certifying ACA paddling instructors in sea and river kayaking.

    Mike Aronoff: Okay, it's Mike Aronoff with Canoe, Kayak and Paddle Company, American Canoe Association, Instructor, Trainer. We are here talking about recreational kayaking. That means different things to different people. This kayak is what we are going to go over in just a minute and people used that for fitness, because it's a great form of physical exercise outside, guys use it for photography. Some people use it for fishing, most people would just use it to get the places that you couldnt get to any other way and I think the big overriding factor of the whole thing is that it's fun. So, let's start out from the front of this boat. The front of any boat including the kayak is called the Bow. This is a carrying toggle, this is used youve got a friend and yourself to pick up each end of the kayak. The top of the kayak is called the deck, so the whole top area is called the deck, let me turn it over for you a little bit. As you come back along the deck, you would come to this, this is a hatch cover, and a hatch cover not surprisingly covers a hatch.

    This is an area where you could store gear material, lot of people would use this type of kayak for an overnight or may be even a weekend trip, most however just out for a day trip, but thats where you can carry, carry anything, sweaters, gear, cloths, food etcetera. Coming back along the deck, you have bungee chords are stretchy chords that you could put anything under. You could put a sweater or a anorak under it, you could put your lunch under it, you could put a spare paddle under it. These are stretchy, these chords are not stretchy and we call them safety lines. This kayak is made out of rotomolded plastic, and nearly everything else kayaks are made out of is slippery. They are not just slippery when they are dry, they are even more slippery when they are wet, so having this hard line to grab on to is a valuable and important safety feature. Not all boats have it but we do. You comeback to the center of the boat, this area is where the paddler sits and it's called a cockpit as in like an airplane cockpit. It has the seat pretty obvious what goes down there. It has a backrest, which fits against the small of your back giving you support, incidentally this backrest is adjustable and it should be adjusted so that you are sitting up straight, as you would be if you are in your kitchen chair.

    These pieces are called thigh braces. Well look at sitting in the boat shortly but these are to brace against your thighs, to give you contact with the kayak. This whole area around the cockpit is called the cockpit coaming. And the cockpit coaming is where you attach your spray skirt, if you wear one. We will talk about that some more and many, many people paddling these types of boats, dont wear spray skirts at all because they dont need do. Moving back, weve got more bungee chords weve got more safety line, and weve got more hatches and hatch covers. One point I want to make before we go too far, is that in here there is a wall, a wall inside a boat is called a bulkhead, and this is what makes this into a watertight compartment from here all the way back and there is another bulkhead or wall here that makes it a watertight compartment from there forward. This is very important, obviously it's a place where you can carry your gear and supplies and keep them pretty dry, not perfectly dry but the bigger thing is, is that it provides inherent floatation. So, if the boat is capsized or even full of water, it's still going to float because it has many cubic feet of air, and it will even float with the paddler in it, again a huge safety feature.

    Coming back to the end of the boat, the backend of any boat is called the stern, so weve got a bow, a deck on top, a cockpit in the middle, deck on the back, hatches, a stern and a stern carrying toggle. Everything on the top is called the deck. Everything on the bottom from this mid-point down and around the kayak is called the hull. The hull is the part thats going to be floating on the water hopefully, not the deck, because of that it's got deigned features, perhaps you can see that there is line that runs all the way down the kayak, back to here and thats generally referred to as a keel line and that helps these types of kayaks go straight which is called tracking, to track means to go straight. This thing, it looks like a fin back here also aids in that tracking.

    So, here weve got it, front bow, deck, head, hatches, cockpit, deck, stern, bottom of the boat as the hull and thats our kayak that we are going to be using today. straight, as you would be if you are in your kitchen chair.

    These pieces are called thigh braces. We ll look at sitting in the boat shortly but these are to brace against your thighs, to give you contact with the kayak. This whole area around the cockpit is called the cockpit coaming. A cockpit coaming is where you attach your spray skirt, if you wear one. We will talk about that some more and many, many people paddling these types of boats, don t wear spray skirts at all because they don t need to. Moving back, we ve got more bungee chords we ve got more safety line, and we ve got more hatches and hatch covers. One point I want to make before we go too far, is that in here there is a wall, a wall inside a boat is called a bulkhead, and this is what makes this into a watertight compartment from here all the way back and there is another bulkhead or wall here that makes it a watertight compartment from there forward. This is very important, obviously it's a place where you can carry your gear and supplies and keep them pretty dry, not perfectly dry, but the bigger thing is, is that it provides inherent floatation. So, if the boat is capsized or even full of water, it's still going to float because it has many cubic feet of air, it will even float with the paddler in it, again a huge safety feature.

    Coming back to the end of the boat, the backend of any boat is called the stern, so we ve got a bow, a deck on top, a cockpit in the middle, deck on the back, hatches, a stern and a stern carrying toggle. Everything on the top is called the deck. Everything on the bottom from this mid-point down and around the kayak is called the hull. The hull is the part that s going to be floating on the water hopefully, not the deck, because of that it's got deigned features, perhaps you can see that there is line that runs all the way down the kayak, back to here and that s generally referred to as a keel line and that helps these types of kayaks go straight which is called tracking, to track means to go straight. This thing, it looks like a fin back here also aids in that tracking.

    So, here we ve got it, front bow, deck, head, hatches, cockpit, deck, stern, bottom of the boat it is the hull and that s our kayak that we are going to be using today.