Choosing whitewater adventure as a hobby does not mean that you are limited to just one type of vessel in which to pursue your thrills. There are several types of craft designed to navigate whitewater rivers. Each of these boats has its adherents; some individuals swear by one type of craft. For almost every type of boat, there are several types of design and materials available from which to choose. In fact, many whitewater enthusiasts will have more than one type of vessel in their garage or in their shed and the choice of vessel will depend on the day’s excursion. Here’s a list of three types of boat commonly used for whitewater paddlers, with a bit of their history.
The Whitewater Raft
For many people, the first images that come to mind when they think of whitewater are those straight out of the tourist brochure: a group of people equipped with helmets, life jackets and sunshades, dipping paddles into the cool spray of a raging river. Many people get their first experience in whitewater by going on an organized raft trip. Most outfitters will utilize inflatable rafts, although historically white water rafting was taken out of necessity and via a raft made of wood and steered by poles along the river bottom. In most cases, the raft is intended for a group of people and is therefore ideal if you’re planning a group excursion for work or any other kind of get-together activity. The advantage in using experienced outfitters is that they will know the water, and you can be secure in the knowledge that they will know what they are doing in case of an emergency.
The second vessel most people will think of when it comes to whitewater paddling is the kayak. The kayak was not, in fact, originally designed for whitewater. It has its roots among northern peoples, particularly the Inuit of North America, who used the bone and skin structure along the open sea to aid them in hunting and food gathering. Today, the kayak continues to be used for ocean travels, but it has also been adapted for whitewater usage. Whitewater kayaks are generally shorter and more maneuverable than their seagoing counterparts.
The canoe might be one of the last vessels that comes to mind when it comes to whitewater, but the fact is that many experienced paddlers continue to swear by the canoe as the only way to tackle rivers. In fact, the canoe was the original river-going vessel. Canoe-like designs can be found among virtually all cultures who live along major waterways throughout the world.
Each of these whitewater boats have their advantages and you should definitely try all three. Ultimately, you will decide which one is best for you.
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