Glossary of Terms

Rafting Terminology

    A

  • ACCESS POINT

    This is the spot on the banks of a river or lake where you put in or take out.

  • B

  • BAILER

    A bucket shaped container used to scoop water out of the raft.

  • BOILS

    Hydraulic features in the river where water "boils" up from the bottom due to submerged river features.

  • BOW

    The bow is the front of any boat.

  • C

  • CARABINEER

    A oblong shaped clip used to secure ropes and gear.

  • CATARAFT

    A new type of person sized raft with two pontoons like a catamaran.

  • CHANNEL

    The main flow of the river.

  • CHUTE

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

  • D

  • DRY TOP/SUIT

    A special type of outer wear designed for paddling in cold air and water which has efficient wrist, ankle and waist seals/gaskets designed to keep water out.

  • E

  • EDDY LINE OR SEAM

    The edge of water current where the water flows in opposite directions due to obstructions or features of the rivers such as boulders or turns.

  • EDDY

    An eddy is a current which is usually behind a large rock, bend or other obstruction in a stream or river which generally flows counter the main current.

    Your boat will generally remain in the eddy with little or no paddling.

  • EDDY OUT

    To turn into a eddy from the main current, generally used to rest, wait for other paddlers or to scout the river below.

  • F

  • FEATHERING

    The practice of rotating an oar so it does not catch maximum amount of water as it is stroked.

    Sometimes used to turn or steer the craft, also aids in the release portion of the stroke where the paddle is pulled from the water to complete the stroke.

  • FERRY

    A lateral move across the main current by paddling with the bow of the boat pointed upstream.

  • FLIP

    The term used to describe a raft that is upside down due to a water feature.

  • FLOTILLA

    A large group of rafts running together down teh same stretch of river.

  • FOOT LOOP

    Loop sewn into the bottom of the raft in which you slip your foot to brace against falling out of raft and becoming a swimmer.

  • FORK

    A point where the river splits into tow or more channels.

  • G

  • GRADIENT

    The rate in which the river drops, usually in feet per mile.

  • GUIDE

    The person paddling the raft on a commercial rafting trip.

  • H

  • HAYSTACK OR WAVE TRAIN

    A series of standing waves following a water feature, haystacks have much larger waves than wave trains.

  • HOLES

    Formed in a river when water pours back over the top of a submerged obstruction, can be extremely dangerous or a great place for play boating depending upon water level, CFM and individual characteristics.

  • HOOPI

    Tube webbing used for securing gear in the raft.

  • HYPOTHERMIA

    Refers to the rapid loss of body heat caused by serious life threatening temperature loss .

  • HYDRAULIC

    Pressure gradients in the water column, they can sometimes be seen as water welling up from the bottom.

    Hydraulics may turn or roll your small watercraft without warning.

  • L

  • LATERAL WAVES

    Waves that move away from an obstruction at an angle in heavy water.

  • O

  • OAR MOUNT

    A mount for a u-shaped feature on the frame the paddle or oar pivots on when the Guide pushes or pulls the oar.

  • P

  • PILLOWS

    Formed when water piles up against a large obstruction such as a boulder, also known as pressure waves.

    Caution should be heeded as the obstruction can be undercut and a point of entrapment.

  • PORT

    The left side of any boat.

  • PADDLE

    A singular bladed oar used for paddling a raft.

  • PADDLE COMMANDS

    Commands the guide calls to the crew to direct them to assist in steering the raft.

  • PORTAGE

    This refers to the carrying of a boat or its contents over land from one body of water to another or around an obstruction such as a blockage or more difficult water feature.

  • PUT-IN

    Where the canoe or kayak trip begins or a portage re-enters the water.

  • R

  • RAFT

    The craft in which river rafting is done, distinguished by an air filled bladder rather than a soft or hard sided boat.

  • RAPID

    An area of turbulent water caused by features on the river bed.

  • RIVER LEFT OR RIGHT

    Refers to the river side or bank when facing downstream for reference.

  • S

  • SCOUTING RAPIDS

    Planning a route though an area of whitewater.

  • SHUTTLE

    This refers to the practice of transporting paddlers or equipment to the put in or take out of a paddling trip.

  • STANDING WAVES

    Waves that occur at certain water levels near features in the river.

  • STERN

    The rear of any boat.

  • STARBOARD

    The right side of any watercraft.

  • STRAINER OR SIFTS

    A hazard that allows water to pass through that would trap a paddler with the potential of serious injury or death such as submerged tree roots or branches of lay-down trees.

  • SWEEPERS

    Trees that have fallen into or leaning across causing a strainer like obstruction.

  • SWIMMER

    A person who has fallen out of the raft.

  • T

  • TAKE OUT

    The furthest point downriver or the point a portage begins.

  • THROW BAG

    A bag used in water rescues, to throw a coiled rope that deploys as it is thrown toward a swimmer.

  • V

  • VOLUME

    Refers to the volume of water moving down a river or rapid.

  • W

  • WAVES

    Formed when water flows over obstructions on the riverbed causing the surface of the river to undulate.

  • WET SUIT

    A neoprene suit used to trap water against the body to be heat with body heat keeping heat transfer low to protect from hypothermia.

  • WHITEWATER

    White water is formed in a rapid, when a river's flow increases enough to disturb its flow rate and create a noticeable disturbance in the form of bubbly, or aerated and unstable current; the disturbed water appears white.

    The term is also used loosely to refer to less turbulent but still agitated flow. The term "whitewater" also has a broader meaning, applying to any river or creek that has a significant number of rapids in a series.

    The term is also used as an adjective describing boating on such rivers.