Kayak and Paddle Terms:
Stern: the back portion of the boat
Bow: the front of the boat
Cockpit: the opening where you sit
Deck: top of the boat
Foot braces: pedals or ridges feet rest on
Blade: the flat section of the paddle
Tip: the end of your paddle
Shaft: the section between the blades of your paddle
Powerface: the side of the blade catching the water on your paddle
Backface: side opposite the powerface
PFD: personal flotation device (lifejacket): is a piece of equipment designed to assist a wearer to keep afloat in water. It is required by law to be in your boat.
Paddle float: a paddle float may be used for re-entry into a kayak after a capsize in open water.
Throw bag: a throw bag or throw line is a rescue device with a length of rope stuffed loosely into a bag so it can come out through the top when the bag is thrown to a swimmer. A throw bag is standard rescue equipment for kayaking and other outdoor river recreational activities.
Bilge Pump: a pump to remove water out of a vessel
Whistle: attach it to your PFD. One blast is for attention; three blasts is “help.” (SOS)
Helmet: good for use when play boating or surfing waves or when flipping is possible
Knife: for use during river paddling where the danger of entanglement can be very real, it makes sense to carry a sheath knife on your PFD.
Tow rope: tow system is great to have when boating with kids or inexperienced paddlers who may become fatigued during long paddles.
Eddyline– boundary between the circular eddy and the downward current flow.
Eddy: water rushing around obstacles, circulating downstream, towards shore in a reverse current. Current flows to fill void created by flow of water. It can be a good location to get out of the rivers current to take a break or to wait for others.
Ledge drop: any drop-off where the depth of the bottom goes from shallow to deep in a short distance. It can be caused from a former dam site.
Volume: the volume of a river is measured in cubic feet per second (cfs). Cfs is determined by calculating the number of cubic feet of water that passes a single point on a river over the course of a second.
Pillow: pillows are created when water hits a rock head on and folds back on itself creating a cushion like bumper against the face of the rock wall.
Riffle: the riffles of rivers tend to be where water is shallow and the current is strong. A riffle is a rocky, shallow area in a stream where water cascading over rocks creates a noticeable surface disturbance.To identify a riffle, look for a choppy surface or whitewater spilling over shallow rocks into deeper water.
Friendly V: a V pattern in the river that points away from you. It is a good path to take.
Unfriendly V: a V pattern that points toward you warns of an obstruction, avoid this.
Gradient: the steepness of the river bed, expressed in feet per mile.
if less than 2 feet: slow river, few riffles ( can paddle 3 miles per hour)
over 5 feet, expect fast water and riffles
Please note: the information, terms, and misc information was sourced through assorted publications, various online sites, assorted DNR brochures,”Paddling Iowa” by Nate Hoogeveen, www.paddling.com, and extensive readings.