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Stories about boat design

What boat should I choose?

This is probably the most frequently asked question and unfortunately, it is the hardest to answer. The right boat for you will depend on you. It depends on what you want to do, your experience level and your size. Before you ask for a recommendation you will need to think about what you need. Are you an experienced paddler who has gone out in all kinds of conditions, or are you someone who has never paddled before but want to build a boat? Do you like poking around in sheltered little ponds, or do you want to head out to an offshore reef?

How a Paddle Works

One of the most important aspects of kayaking comfortably and easily is your paddle. An efficient kayak is of no use if the paddle you use is inefficient, or if you use your otherwise efficient paddle in an inefficient manner. A good paddle can make the worst boat seem better and good technique will get the most advantage out of the worst paddle.

Tracking and Maneuverability

"Tracking" has become a somewhat nebulous term when used in reference to sea kayaks. For most people it has something to do with how easily the kayak turns. In this context a boat with "good" tracking is one that is hard to turn and one that doesn't track tends to be easy to turn. Unfortunately, this tends to make people think a boat that is hard to turn is "good" or at least somehow better than one that is easy to turn. However, unless they are doing Olympic style sprint racing, most people do occasionally want to turn, and they would really prefer if it weren't too hard to do. When people talk about tracking they really want to know if they will have a hard time making their boat go where they want it to when they get caught out in a wind. If they have to struggle to maintain their course they think it is "bad", if it is easy to go where they want, it is "good". This quality of being easy to control in difficult conditions is only loosely related to how easy the boat is to turn.

Varieties of Kayaks

The range of kayaks types is as varied as there are different bodies of water. Every different body of water, be it river, pond, lake, harbor or open ocean, has caused someone to design a kayak specifically to meet the demands of the locally prevailing conditions. In fact different people often have different ideas about what they want to do on their lake, bay, or brook and they look for the ideal boat to pursue the on-the-water activity of their choice.


The word "baidarka" is actually a Russian word. It is the diminutive form of "baidar" which means "boat" so "baidarka" means "small boat". In modern use in the United States, it has come to mean a skin on frame kayak of the type made by the Aleut peoples of Alaska. This usage probably stems from George Dyson's excellent book by that name Baidarka.

Kayak Design Terms

A description of boat design terms and how they relate to boat performance.

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