Umiak from Alaska

Umiak from Alaskan Inupiats (Wikimedia)

The Umiak is a less known and popular boat than the kayak, but it is older and has long been more widespread. Spelled umiak, umiaq, umiac, oomiac or oomiak, the Umiak was called the "women's ship" as opposed to the kayak, "man ship". Slower, broader, higher in form, but also more complex and long to build, more material-intensive, the Umiak was propelled by paddle and sail, which, modest, was erected at the front.

Its hull used the same construction techniques as the kayak, but its architecture was different. Thus, the umiak was assembled by three large "spars" of driftwood, or possibly six solidly assembled, forming a central section in an inverted triangle. The two upper side beams were pushed back in the center and tightened at the front, giving Hydrodynamic line to a very old ship dictated by empiricism.

More stable than the kayak, it was nevertheless often weighted, and could carry all that the Eskimos could carry away during their displacement (they are often nomadic tribal societies, ranging from hunting area to hunting area, summer).

A umiak asked for no less than seven sealskins and more, was one meter fifty wide and sometimes 6 meters long and more. Only the size of the available driftwood dictated the size of the vessel. Couples were bone most often. The fittings between the skins were particularly well treated, the vessel serviced weekly. The hull coating changed every 2-3 years.

Beginning in the 1960s, the Eskimo civilization discovered among other things modern kayaks made of plastic or fiberglass and adopted them, but the aluminum umiak never really succeeded in implanting, because of its cost And the difficulty of maintaining and repairing it... The Yupik and Inupiat of Alaska in particular, continue to build traditional umiaks for their everyday life