While I do not know how to kayak myself, I can
still tell you something about the physical forces
that apply when you kayak. - After all this is a
science website and we answer science questions!
If you really want to learn how to kayak you
should start taking classes . Maybe there is a
summer camp in Santa Barbara this summer. Also, I
am not quite sure if you want to learn to kayak or
canoe. I will explain the differences to you.
There are three main distinctions that separate
a canoe from a kayak: A kayak is a decked boat,
while a canoe is not. When using the boat, a
kayaker will sit flat with his legs extended under
the deck and his upper body rising from a central
hole in the deck. On the other hand, a canoer will
kneel in the boat. A third difference lies in the
paddle, a canoe utilizes a shorter paddle with
a blade on one end only, sort of a shortened
version of the oar of a row boat. The kayak,
though, uses a longer paddle with blades at both
ends of the rod.
Maybe you also like to know who build the first
Kayak. The kayak was first created by the
Inuit, an Arctic people. The first kayaks
were wooden frames covered in sealskin with a
small hole in the middle for the user to sit in.
They were used primarily for hunting. These early
kayaks varied greatly in design from region to
And now to the physics behind kayaking:
The second and third law of motion from
Newton help us understand how the kayak is
moving forward. A kayaker will place his paddle
in the water and pull backwards in order to propel
himself. While the paddle is being pulled back, it
is exerting a force on the water and because of
Newton's third law of motion, the water is
simultaneously exerting an equal, but opposite,
force on the kayaker. Since the kayaker was
pulling backwards the force exerted inversely onto
the kayaker is in the forward direction. Due to
Newton's second law of motion, the force
exerted on an object equals the mass of the object
multiplied by it's resultant acceleration.
There is a lot more going on. Torque is
the reason why the kayak swings in the opposite
direction of each stroke. If a stroke is done on
the right side, the kayak rotates
counter-clockwise, but if the stroke is done on
the left, the kayak rotates clockwise. This is
because that while a stroke is taking place the
paddle acts as a lever arm for the vessel.
Torque is the length of the lever arm times the
perpendicular force exerted on the arm. Thus
the further from the ship that one places their
stroke the greater torque that will be made, and
the more the boat will rotate from side to side.
Maybe you will remember this when you learn how
to paddle. It is actually useful.
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