I think it is how you sit.
As far as paddle craft go, you sit in a kayak and can kneel in a canoe.
That makes it easiest for me to categorize the paddle craft. But it does lead to some odd determinations, like a Pacraft would be an inflatable kayak.
The paddle does not matter, even thousands of years ago the Aleutians were paddling their kayaks with single blades and double blades depending on the conditions.
I don't think the fit matters, because some of the old Alaskan kayaks had huge cockpits that would rival today's Pungo 140.
For whitewater paddlers it is often the paddle that decides whether it is a canoe or a kayak, but in actuality the kayaks that are converted to canoes have the seats changed for kneeling as well.
The British called everything canoes, the sport was often referred to as sea canoeing. What we think of as a traditional canoe, they call a Canadian canoe.
What get's me is these foot powered Launches made by Hobie that they call Fishing Kayaks. They are not even paddle powered and they look and weight like a row boat. But Foot powered fishing launch puts you out of the Cool Kayak Fishing Market as does row boat.
If rowing became cool a lot more folks would use them for fishing than the "Kayaks" that are like low sided double blade canoes. Sefl rescue in a row boat is so much simpler as is bracing because of the 7 foot oar out to each side.
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