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 extened 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.
Any comments, questions, or flat out corrections should be sent to Matt Buchan. This site is part of Mr. Tom Robinson's award winning The Physics Of... web site. All photos are linked to their source. June 10, 2001.