Spray skirts on Unangan kayaks were affixed to the cockpit coaming of the kayak and stayed with the kayak when it wasn't in use. When the paddler wanted to take off in his kayak, he stepped into his kayak and sat down and then pulled up the skirt and threw the strap that held it up over his shoulder. The top of the skirt had a draw string that the paddler could tighten to minimize entry of water. According to Jochelson (1925) some kayakers had a way of tying the shoulder strap by means of two rings which allowed the kayaker to quickly disconnect the shoulder strap in case of a capsize.
|This model shows the paddler wearing his rain jacket in conjunction with the sprayskirt.|
In the rest of the Bering Sea region, kayakers wear gut skin jackets similar to those of Unangan kayakers. However, in the Bering Sea, skin jackets are fitted with a draw string on the bottom that fits directly over the coaming and eliminates the need for a separate spray skirt. Part of the reason that Unangan kayakers did not use this method may be that their cockpits were relatively small and a jacket fitted to the smaller cockpit would have made the bottom of the jacket too narrow to walk in comfortably.
|Paddlers on shore with their kayaks drawn up on the beach. Spray skirts stay attached to the coamings of the kayaks. These kayakers are relatively modern and have adopted Western style hats to replace the bent wood hats and visors that they would have worn in the past.|
|If the kayaks were being stored for a little longer time, the sprayskirts could be cinched up at the top and held up with a stick to form a roof over the cockpit opening to keep the rain out.|