Terminology and Slang

AGROUND
This is a point in which a kayak or other watercraft is stuck upon a sandbar or shoal.

ASYMMETRIC
This is a type of paddle on which the top side of the blade is longer than the bottom side.

BACKPADDLE
This term refers to paddling backward as a means of slowing or reversing the forward motion of a kayak.

BAIL
This term is used to empty water from a kayak by scooping it out with a pail or pumping it out with a bilge pump.

BEAM
The beam is the widest part of the kayak.

BILGE PUMP
This refers to a hand or foot pump used to remove water that collects in the bilge.

BOOF
This refers to a technique for landing a freefalling boat flat on its hull.

BOW
The bow is the front end of the kayak.

BRACING
This is a stroke used to provide support and prevent the kayak from capsizing.

BROACHING
This is a point when the kayak is oriented to waves, currents or an obstacle.

BULKHEAD
This is the vertical partition inside the kayak designed to create separate chambers inside the boat. Bulkheads create watertight areas where gear can be safely stored.

CANOE
A canoe is a small craft propelled with one or more single-bladed paddle(s) while sitting or kneeling and facing the direction of travel.

CHANNEL
This refers to a section of passable water through reefs, shoals and other obstructions.

CHUTE
This is a section of river that flows between two large obstructions, compressing the water and causing a swift current.

CLEAT
It is a fitting used for tying lines to. Often attached to the deck of a kayak, they have two protruding horns that make it easy to tie a line or bungee cord to.

COAMING
This is the rim of a kayak’s cockpit. It has a lip or flange that a kayaker’s spray skirt fits on to keep the kayaker dry.

COCKPIT
This is the area where the kayaker sits while in the boat.

CUSHIONS
This is a type of pressure wave that tends to deflect boats and swimmers from the rocks that generated it.

DECK
This is the top of the kayak.

DRAG
Any resistance to a kayak or other boat’s forward motion is called a Drag.

DROPPING IN
It refers to an attempt to surf a wave or hole that another person is already using.

DRY BAG
A Dry Bag is a waterproof bag kayakers use to protect the items they bring with them.

DRY-TOP
It is a special type of cagoule designed for paddling which has efficient seals to keep the water out.

DUFFEK TURN
A Duffek Turn is a compound stroke used for entering an eddy.

EBB
This term refers to a receding current.

EDDY
An eddy is a current which is usually behind a large rock or other obstruction in a stream or river which is at variance with the main current.

ENDER
This is a playboating maneuver where the kayaker allows the bow of his boat to be sucked into a hole, standing the kayak up on end, until the buoyancy of the boat sends it shooting back up in the air.

FACE
This is the side of a paddle blade that is pushing against the water.

FERRY
This term means to move a kayak or other watercraft laterally across a current.

FIBERGLASS
A fiberglass is a lightweight composite material used in the construction of kayak hulls.

FLATWATER
This refers to a calm river, lake, ocean water without rapids or high waves.

FOOT BRACE
A foot brace is a peddle-like footrest, normally found in sea kayaks, that provides greater maneuvering control through a skeg or rudder.

FREE BLADE
This refers to any paddle or propulsion device that is held in the hands and not attached to the boat.

FREEBOARD
This is the distance between the waterline and the lowest point of the deck of the vessel.

HATCH
A Hatch is waterproof holder inside the kayak where you can store items you’re taking with you.

HATCH COVER
The removable cover on top is called a hatch cover.

HULL
This refers to the bottom side of the kayak (below the seam).

KAYAK
It is a small craft propelled with one or more two-bladed paddles while sitting and facing the direction of travel.

LINE
This refers to a rope used to tie the kayak to a point on the shore.

MELTDOWN
This is to deliberately put your boat underneath a wave or hydraulic.

POCKET/POWER POCKET
This refers to the steepest green part of the wave, usually right next to the shoulder.

PORT
A port is a directional term meaning to the left of the kayak or the left side of any boat.

PORTAGE
This refers to the carrying of a boat or its contents over land from one body of water to another.

PRYS
These are strokes that are performed by levering the paddle shaft against the side of the boat.

RAPID
This is an area of turbulent water.

ROCKER
This term refers to the curve on the bottom of the vessel along the center line from the bow to the stern.

RUDDER
This is the vertical blade in the rear of the kayak, used to steer the boat.

SCULLING DRAW
This is a technique that propels the boat continuously sideways towards the paddle.

SEAL LAUNCH
This is to slide or drop into the water while seated in the boat and holding the paddle.

SEAM
This refers to the one-inch wide line around the middle of the kayak where the deck and hull are joined together, usually a different color than the deck or hull.

SHUTTLE
This refers to the vehicle used for, or the practice of transporting paddlers or equipment by road to the opposite end of a paddling trip.

SPRAYDECK/SPRAY SKIRT
This is a device that is worn around the waist to keep water out of the cockpit.

STERN
This term refers to the back end of the kayak.

TANDEM PADDLING
This refers to two paddlers paddling the same boat.

TRACKING
This is the term used to describe how well a boat tracks (keeps its direction) under the influence of currents and winds.

VOLUME
This is the amount of air trapped inside a boat. It also refers to the volume of water moving down a rapid.

WAKE
This refers to the disturbed water following a moving vessel.

WATERLINE
This is the line on the hull of a vessel to which the surface of perfectly calm water rises when the vessel is motionless.

WHIRLPOOLS
This refers to whirling vertical vortices with a core of air that carry anything that falls into them down to the bed of the river, lake or sea.