To step into a kayak is to step into a 5,000 year old tradition. An ancient creation devised by the creative minds of some arctic Eskimos trying to find a way to better feed their family or tribe. Using bones and skins of sea mammals, they made the first kayaks that took them onto the sea. Chasing their prey across the wild sea, they would harpoon seals, walrus, and whales many times larger than the hunters, then tow them all the way home, creating a bounty that improved life dramatically, but not without enormous risk.
Others kayaked inland on lakes and rivers, catching caribou, fishing and just plain getting around to socialize and trade. Fresh water was transported by kayak. Paddling techniques varied from double bladed paddles carved long and narrow to minimize windage and splash to small single blade canoe style paddles.
Capsizes were not uncommon and with water temperatures just above freezing, flawless rolling skills were a must. Young boys began training on their mother’s lap “air paddling” with their tiny hands. When reaching three they graduated to a balancing board. By adolescence, an Eskimo boy would have an arsenal of rolls to match the variety of life-threatening conditions.
The kayak of today can only be described as the continuation of an evolutionary process thousands of years old. What has changed is our technology. Design processes are different, as are manufacturing materials and methods, and intended use. Eskimo kayaks were carefully designed with performance and features that optimized their success in hunting. Many of their characteristics would be inappropriate to the needs of the modern sea kayaker. Our designs have continued to evolve as we have adapted them to our needs today. The Eskimos are our paddling ancestors, and we, the latest generation in this family of paddlers, carry on that tradition in what we do today. And we at Eddyline are proud to be a part of that.
May we always carry with us, their courage, ingenuity, their profound respect for the sea and it’s living things, and their passion for being on the water. And we never forget, every time we slide into our kayaks, we become them.