2. Guide to Canoes and Kayaks

A canoe is a lightweight narrow boat


Boats have been around for thousands of years and in this new series – Sean’s Ultimate Ship, we’re going to be looking at some of the most amazing ones!

CanoeA canoe is a lightweight narrow boat that’s usually pointed at both ends and open on top, and you power them with a single end paddle.  The word canoe comes from the Native American word ‘Kenu’ which means “dug out”.

Sport canoes are more commonly referred to as ‘Kayaks’.  They are also lightweight narrow boats, but usually made of fibreglass.  Most kayaks have a closed deck and you propel them using a double bladed paddle.

Canoes and kayaks are excellent for travelling across rivers at pace, which is why they’re used in races. Also, because of their length, it means they’re also very hard to tip over.  You should check out some of the clips of Team GB winning an Olympic medal in the Slalem events to get a better idea of how nifty a canoe can be in the right hands.

Dug OutHistorically, canoes were made from a single tree trunk or by using bark on a wood frame. But over the years, they become better designed, to be made from canvas on a wood frame and even aluminium. Most modern canoes are made of plastic or fibreglass.

Until the 1800s, the canoe was an important means of transport for exploration and trade.  But today, they’re mostly used for fun.

We know canoes were used as long ago as 8,000 BC. One, the Pesse canoe that was found in the Netherlands, may be the oldest known canoe.

Not all canoes are powered by paddles – some have sails to help move them along, and you might even see one with an outboard motor!

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