Glossary terms

Assisted Rescuesearch for term
A rescue technique performed with the aid of at least one other person in addition to the swimmer. Synonyms: Boat-over-boat rescue, Hand-of-God rescue, T-rescue
Back Facesearch for term
The opposite side of the paddle blade from the power face, used for reverse strokes. Usually convex, with the spine along it's center. Synonyms: Non-power face
Bearingsearch for term
The direction of an object, expressed either as a true bearing or magnetic bearing, as shown on the chart or as a bearing relative to the heading of the boat
Bilge Pumpsearch for term
A device for pumping water out of a boat
Bowsearch for term
The forward-most part of a boat
Bowlinesearch for term
A chord attached to the front of the boat; useful for towing or tying the boat to a dock.
Bulkheadsearch for term
For Sea Kayaks, this is a waterproof wall that divides the interior of a kayak from the bow and/or stern, creating flotation, storage areas and strength to the hull. For Whitewater Kayaks, the bulkhead runs length-wise down the center of the kayak, creating minimal flotation and adding strength to the hull.
Bungee cordssearch for term
Elastic lines on the deck of a kayak, perfect for securing gear within easy reach (water bottles, sunscreen, ball cap, etc). Used mostly on touring kayaks, fishing kayaks and recreational kayaks. Rarely, if ever, used on whitewater kayaks. See also: Deck lines Synonyms: Deck lines, Perimeter lines
Buoysearch for term
An anchored float used for marking a position on the water, a hazard or a shoal, also used for mooring.
Capsizesearch for term
When a boat overturns so that it goes from being upright to upside down.
Channelsearch for term
A boatable route through a section of river
Chart (nautical)search for term
Marine map referencing water features, including depths, shorelines, scale, aids to navigation (like lights and buoys), and other features essential to marine navigation.
Chutesearch for term
A narrow drop or small fall
Class Isearch for term
Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy. No signs of whitewater. The difference between Class I and II, is that Class II shows the first signs of whitewater. (Skill Level: None) See also: Class II
Class IIsearch for term
Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class II+”. First signs of whitewater. The difference between Class I and II, is that Class I has no signs of whitewater. (Skill Level: Novice) See also: Class I
Class IIIsearch for term
Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. Scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class III-” or “Class III+” respectively. (Skill Level: Intermediate)
Class IVsearch for term
Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require “must” moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class IV-” or “Class IV+” respectively. (Skill Level: Advanced)
Class Vsearch for term
Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is recommended but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential. Because of the large range of difficulty that exists beyond Class IV, Class 5 is an open-ended, multiple-level scale designated by class 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc… each of these levels is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last. Example: increasing difficulty from Class 5.0 to Class 5.1 is a similar order of magnitude as increasing from Class IV to Class 5.0. (Skill level: Expert)
Class VIsearch for term
These runs have almost never been attempted and often exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. The consequences of errors are very severe and rescue may be impossible. For teams of experts only, at favorable water levels, after close personal inspection and taking all precautions. After a Class VI rapids has been run many times, its rating may be changed to an apppropriate Class 5.x rating. (Skill level: Extreme)
Coamingsearch for term
The lip around the cockpit that allows the attachment of a spray skirt.
Cockpitsearch for term
The sitting area in a kayak.
Compasssearch for term
A device to determine direction using the Earth's magnetic field
Confluencesearch for term
A point where two or more watercourses meet
Coursesearch for term
The compass direction of travel to a destination.
Currentsearch for term
The horizontal movement of the water
Decksearch for term
The top of a kayak.
Deck linessearch for term
A rope or shock-cord attached to a kayak's deck, used for securing items on deck or to make it easier to grab the boat. See also: Bungee cords Synonyms: Bungee cords, Perimeter lines
Defensive swimmingsearch for term
Passively swimming on your back, keeping as flat and shallow as possible, with your feet downstream, and on the surface of the water, to push off of rocks and other obstructions, while avoiding foot-entrapment or entanglement.
Diurnal tidesearch for term
One high water level and one low water level occur in approximately 24 hours
Downstreamsearch for term
The direction in which the water is flowing.
Drain plugsearch for term
A stopper, usually mounted on the stern, which can be removed to drain water from a leaky kayak.
Draw Strokessearch for term
Dynamic strokes designed to move the kayak laterally in the water.
Drift fishingsearch for term
A fishing technique that involves letting the wind or current move the kayak over the area to be fished.
Dropsearch for term
An abrupt descent in a river
Ebb tidesearch for term
A falling or receding tide
Eddysearch for term
A place behind an obstacle where the current is still, or moving upstream
Ferryingsearch for term
The act of pointing the bow up current or upwind to offset the effects of the current or wind. Often used to move the boat laterally. Synonyms: Ferry
Flood tidesearch for term
A rising tide
Following seasearch for term
An overtaking sea that comes from astern
Gradientsearch for term
A river's gradient or slope is measured in foot drop per mile and provides a rough indication of its speed and level of difficulty. Rivers with gradients of less than 10 feet per mile are ordinarily slow and easy, while rivers with gradient exceeding 30 feet per mile are usually fast, difficult and dangerous.
High tidesearch for term
Highest level attained by an incoming tide
knotsearch for term
A measure of speed equal to 1 nautical mile per hour
Latitudesearch for term
The imaginary lines running parallel to the equator
Line of Position (LOP)search for term
A line drawn on the chart from an object at a bearing, or a range, which corresponds to your line of sight to that object
Longitudesearch for term
The imaginary lines running form the north pole to the south pole Synonyms: Meridian
Mean high water (MHW)search for term
The average height of all high waters at a specific place over a 19-year cycle
Mean low water (MLW)search for term
The average height of all low waters at a specific place over a 19-year cycle
Minutesearch for term
as pertains to navigation, 1/60 of a degree
nautical milesearch for term
One minute of latitude, approximately 6,076 feet. It is equal to 1.15 (about 1 1/8) statute miles
Neap tidesearch for term
A tide in which there is the least amount of difference between the high and low tides (range of tide). It occurs during the first and last quarters of the moon, when the Earth, sun and moon form a right angle.
Pilesearch for term
A wood, metal or concrete pole driven into the sea bottom
Portsearch for term
The left side of a boat when looking forward
Portagesearch for term
The carrying of a craft around a rapid or hazard
Rangesearch for term
Any two natural or man-made objects that appear in line from your perspective
Routesearch for term
A series of directions to get from point A to point B. In GPS terms, it is a series of linked waypoints entered into the receiver.
Scoutsearch for term
To examine a rapid or hazard from shore
Secondsearch for term
As it pertains to navigation, 1/60 of a minute
Semi-diurnal tidesearch for term
Two high water levels and two low water levels occur in approximately 24 hours
Setsearch for term
The direction in which a current flows
Spring tidesearch for term
A tide that has the greatest difference between high and low tides (range of tide). It occurs during the full and new moons, when the sun, moon and Earth are aligned.
Starboardsearch for term
The right side of a boat when looking forward
Statute milesearch for term
A measure of distance used on land. 5,280 feet or 0.87 nautical mile
Sternsearch for term
The rear of a boat
strainersearch for term
Brush, fallen trees, bridge pilings or anything else that allows the current to flow through but pins boats, boaters and other solid debris. Synonyms: Sweeper
Tidal racesearch for term
A region of very turbulent water occurring when a fast current passes over an irregular sea floor or when opposing currents meet. Also known as tide rips or rips. Synonyms: Tide rips, rips
Tidesearch for term
The periodic rise and fall of the water level in the ocean
Variationsearch for term
The angle at which magnetic north varies from true north
Volume (CFS)search for term
The water volume of a river is a crucial variable for boaters. In order to measure this changing flow, the volume/time unit of 'cubic feet per second' (CFS) is commonly used. CFS indicates the amount of water flowing past any given point along a river in one second.