Eskimau Kayak from Gröenland.

The composite canoe, unlike the basic canoe, existed throughout the North American continent, and a variant called kayak (kyak, kyak, kaiak, qajaq), a palindrome reflecting the symmetry of the boat, was also used by Peoples of the Arctic Circle. The Lapps, Inuit (Eskimos), Aleuts, Chukchi, Koriaks, and dating at least 4000 years old. It was found in southern Grenland, eastern Siberia, and Alaska. It is very likely that it was born during the ice age both the methods of constructions found everywhere are close. It is traditionally made of a wooden hull floating (found on the shore) and reindeer bones, bound by tendons and nerves and leathers of marine mammals, covered with sewn pelts sewn, with a sealing made of a mixture varying depending on the regions. The Kayak is the most famous boat in the Arctic Circle. It is light, easily transportable on the back of a man, almost symmetrical, about four meters long, 50-60 centimeters wide, and its only opening is a manhole whose solidarity with the anorak of the paddler Is ensured by a completely watertight skirt. A necessity because the boat is very fast but also quite unstable.

Baidarka Aleutians

Wooden Baidarka of the Siberian Elutians (illustration: Anthropologie Française, late XIXe century)

One of the basic techniques of its handling is the "Eskimoting" which consists of straightening up using the body and the paddles when we turned upside down. The double paddle is also one of the characteristics of this boat. The Greenlanders are believed to have invented several techniques of this type, particularly because of their craft particularly fine and narrow. Despite ballasting for stability, they were in the process of hunting, likely to turn even with an experienced hunter. But other techniques existed, only within a hunting group or the other kayakers could intervene quickly. In one of these techniques, the kayaker was waiting to be returned by a partner, or failing that, by the time the others arrived, a paddler provided if the boat allowed it, enter the inverted kayak and breathe the air at The interior time to be rescued...

The Kayak was above all an individual fishing and hunting craft, probably the best. It was not only very fast, but also very stealthy and was perfect for ambushing and pursuing marine mammals, but also for group hunting, such as tracking caribou crossing a river. The kayaks were maintained with the utmost care and their coating carefully oiled every 4-8 days so as to keep it tight, supple and not crack. The skin was shaved thoroughly because the orifices could let the air pass through once the hairiness was decomposed, and treated before assembly with a mixture acting as a glue insinuating into the smallest orifice. The hard climatic conditions imposed a treatment to the height ...

Each people had its own subtleties in the construction of kayaks. Some used more wood when it was abundant, and in North America, fully wooden kayaks appeared. Thus, in the Aleutians and Alaska, a two-seater variant of the kayak, the Baidarka, was built. This type of canoe was little used because of the relative strength of the two paddlers and the difficulty of maintaining the course of a boat of this type. Some Baidarkas were even triple, and appeared on the Siberian side, used as means of transport by Russian missionaries (not paddling). According to other theories, the Kayak would have derived from the Umiaks, older, as "decked" versions, and faster. It was not unusual to see umiaks (or sometimes Baydar) and kayaks hunt together, the vast hull of the first allowing to deposit the prey...

The kayakers were able to take off, crossing already impressive waves, and hunt the whale at the harpoon ... the kayakers' hunting equipment varied according to the prey sought. Thus, the harpoon, large and pointed multiple, the javelin, attached to the boat, finer, both often used with a throwing stick, similar to the South American atlatl and allowing to increase strength and reach The launcher, the darts, light enough for fishing with fish and even birds, a lance to kill the animal closely, and naturally a knife. The meat was brought back to the village in several ways. If the boat was big enough and modest prey, it was loaded in front or back on the deck. Quick solution, but very unstable. More often, and especially because of the size of the prey, the animal was cut into pieces even from the pack ice and thus stored equally inside the ship. It could also be towed on condition of inflating it to prevent it from sinking, and to attach it to the kayak, as a float.

The Kayak, whose knowledge in the West really began at the end of the 19th century, gradually became a popular sport during the second half of the 20th century, from 1959 when the modern copy of an Eskimo kayak was made and sold in Scotland. The shapes and materials of buildings have adapted to the modern world. Fiberglass, plastics and plywood have become common materials, as modern Eskimos themselves no longer use old methods of construction whose know-how still persists