Physics of a Kayak (Qayaq) Essay

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Qayaqs, now known as kyaks, were used by the Yup'ik Eskimos of Southwest Alaska. The Qayaq is a symbol of the Yup'ik culture. It symbolizes the significance of subsistence and using the surrounding resources to survive. This vessel also represents the intelligence and ingenuity of the Yup'ik people developing and designing a water craft that was swift, quiet, and could withstand harsh water turbulence.

They were used as a mode of transportation for subsistence hunting and gathering. They were also a symbol of importance in society. " was the basis among men for obtaining wealth and women" (Zimmerly, 40). Wealth was measured on the ammount of goods a man could give away, indicating he was a successful hunter. In turn, because this
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The beam of approximately 30 inches gave the kyak excellent stability and combined with a sealable waterproof gut-skin parka and one or two recovery techniques, made it very seaworthy" ( Zimmerly, 40).

The wood used was drift wood, and was steamed and bent into the prefered shape. The pegs to hold the ribs in place were made out of specially selected driftwood or caribou antler. The seal skin was removed from any hair, dried, and then soaked in urine and rain water to make it flexible enough to sew. Then the skins sewn together with sinew on the outside, and then re-sewn on the inside with dried beach grass to make sure it was waterproof. The skins are then lashed onto the frame and then oiled with seal oil and then caulked with a mixture of moss and seal oil. (Delta Discovery)

The shape of a qayaq is the most important characteristic to determine whether it will flow well in the water. When a qayaq floats, it displaces an amount of water that is equal to its weight because water is incompressible. When the qayaq is moving, it displaces more water. The amount of displacement depends on the weight of the qayaq and the speed it is moving. If the path of the water was blocked, say by a flat front, more energy would be needed to move the qayaq. This is why streamlining, or laminar flow is important and needs to be considered when looking at the physics of a qayaq. (


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