An Inuit word for a light, covered-in, canoe-type boat used for fishing, in common use in northern waters from Greenland to Alaska. It is made by covering a wooden framework with sealskin, with a hole in the centre of the top of the boat into which the kayaker, also dressed in sealskin, laces himself to prevent the entry of water. It is propelled by a double-bladed paddle. The word kayak, in its strict meaning, applies only to a boat when it is occupied by a man; if a woman uses one, it is called a umiak. It is thought by some people that the origin of the word is from the Arabic caique, the name being given to these native boats when they were first seen by the early explorers and subsequently taken into the Inuit language. However, this seems unlikely as the name is the same in all Inuit and Greenland dialects.
Kayaks made of GRP are also very popular for recreational purposes.
Subjects: Maritime History.