The Arctic skin boat known to Inuit as the umiak was both wider and deeper than the kayak and, unlike the latter, had no decking. Capable of carrying heavy loads of passengers and equipment, the umiak was well suited to its main functions: transporting families during seasonal moves from one settlement to another and carrying men in pursuit of large whales. When used for transportation, umiaks were rowed by women with oars, but when they were used for whaling, umiaks were propelled by men with single-bladed paddles.
At the time of first European contact, umiaks were no longer used in the Central Canadian Arctic. However, Inuit of the Western and Eastern Arctic continued to make and use these seaworthy craft until they were replaced by whaleboats and motorized canoes in the early twentieth century.
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