The book is set out in five sections that neatly capture the essence of the kayak as it has evolved and developed. The book begins by exploring the creation of the kayak as a hunting vessel that is interwoven with the live and mythology of the indigenous communities of the Arctic.
Arctic hunters were exceptional paddlers and constructed a variety of boats to meet a demanding environment in which they hunted whales, seals and caribou, negotiated calm and rough waters, and laboured through ice floes. The kayak was a way of life that could mean the differance between life and death.
With the discovery of the kayak by the western world, its size and versatility attracts new paddlers. The kayak first takes to the rivers of Europe but sea kayaking soon develops while others use it for scientific research expeditions.
The kayak continues to inspire as it tackles the rolling seas and storms of the Pacific Ocean. But higher up, in Tibet, it challenges the extreme white water of the Tsangpo River. Today, the challenge is dropping waterfalls.
In the competitive arena, kayaks of different shapes and sizes are designed for a competitive edge. Sprint, marathon, canoe polo, and free style lead the way. But it is squirting that produces the ultimate mystery move.
With the lifting of secrecy around subterfuge activities during World War 2, the role of the kayak has been discovered. Launched from a submarine, kayaks were used to place limpet mines on enemy ships. Defence involvement continues today with the development of autonomous kayaks for mine searching and civilian relieve activities.
Read a review of Kayak, a collection of words and images at: Global Paddler
©2012 Stern Turn Publishing Pty Ltd