No one doubts the appeal of water to humans. We spend huge amounts of money on waterfront property, yachts, houseboats, cabin cruisers and the like. And they all insulate us from the water completely. Only in a kayak can you come close to the water. The seat is below the water line. Your hands feel it with every stroke of the paddle. On the sea, you feel the spray on your cheek, breathe the sea air, taste the salt on your lips.
On a river, you can pause, scoop up a handful and drink its coolness. In a kayak you are one of the water creatures, a curious thing to be looked at by the wildlife. Not some noisy machine to be fled from.
No engine noise heralds your arrival , no exhaust stink or crashing wake marks your passing. The steady pace of your paddling is a low impact aerobic workout that tones muscles and relaxes the mind. In short the kayak gives you the most intimate contact with the waters, preserves both your environment and bank account, exercises the body and calms the mind. The real question should be, why anything but a kayak?
Why skin on frame ultra-light kayaks?
Before we can examine the merits of skin-on-frame kayaks, let's dispel some misconceptions. Yes, they are durable. No, they are not going to puncture and sink the first time you graze the bottom. The skin can be as tough as the bottoms on rafts used in white water adventure tours. So, take a closer look. . .
Skin on frame kayaks have an elegant efficiency that appeals in this age of conspicuous consumption. The frame has the beautiful severity of a bird's skeleton. Every component is just where it needs to be, just the right strength and no more. No piece is superfluous--remove a part and the kayak is no longer. The skin is stretched tight over the frame and gives the kayak its form, just enough rigidity to push the water aside, just enough flex to let if flow by gently. Conceived in the Arctic, kayaks were developed to make the most efficient use of scarce resources. Their design is a triumph of human ingenuity over adversity. Form follows function perfectly and the result is beauty. And this leads to the next question.
Why build, why teach?
Man loves to build things. Anthropologists call us the tool-using ape. The world is littered with our creations. The rise of man through the ages of civilization can be traced though our creation of ever better and more beautiful objects. Man is a co-operative social animal. We form groups, families and nations. We teach others and help them and gain pleasure from doing so. The love of beauty and the joy of its creation are inherent in every human.
The compromises inherent in modern society, however, lead us away from all this. Without exercising other opportunities, we find we create nothing, work at sterile jobs of meaningless repetition, eat food packaged by strangers, wear clothes made a half-world away, leave nothing behind that our children can say, "That was my father's, my mother made that." So I build kayaks. From chaos we bring forth a new creation. I can teach you to make your own kayak and you will be able to use it.. You will rest after a day's paddling tired and admire it with a parent's pride as it sits on the sand, every line and curve shaped by your own hand. Your knowledge of it more intimate than any lovers. You created it. Your children will say, "My mother built this," or "That was my father's kayak." We build to create, we teach because we are human.