Kayak fact sheet 3

Learning the Lingo

Two-person canoe or kayak.

An open craft with pointed ends that is propelled with a single-bladed paddle. Also called an “open boat.”

Life Jacket
Also known as Personal Flotation Device. How to fit your PFD: First, zip the PFD and tighten the side straps. Be sure to fasten all zips, belts, snaps, and straps. The PFD should not rub your chin or around your armpits. Test the sizing on your PFD by holding your arms straight out and have a friend lift the jacket from the shoulder straps. If the vest slips upward, tighten the fit. The right hydraulic could rip an unsecured PFD right over your head.

Primary tool for propelling canoes/kayaks. The “blade” is the wide, flat area of a paddle, used for propulsion. The “shaft” is the area of a paddle between the upper grip and the blade.

Front of the canoe or kayak.

The back end of a boat.

The body of a canoe or kayak; the area that has the greatest impact on how the boat and water interact.

Draw Stroke
Used to move the boat sideways. Performed by placing the paddle into the water parallel to the boat at an arm’s reach away, then pulling boat over to it.

Forward Stroke
A good forward stroke allows you to move ahead smoothly with a minimum of effort and stress on your joints. It also keeps a large share of your body in motion keeping your back and bottom from getting stiff.

Sweep Stroke
Used to turn the boat to the off-side by reaching out and ahead, then “sweeping” in a wide arc fore to aft.

Grab Loop   
Short rope or grab-handle threaded through bow/stern stems of a kayak or canoe.

Side of boat opposite the paddle.

Side that you’re paddling on.

The starting point of a paddling trip; where the boats are launched into the water.

The ending point of a paddling trip; where the boats are finally taken from the water.

*River grading system (From the Outward Bound Survival Handbook 1997)

Grade I : Simple moving water without significant rapids.
Grade II : More rapidly moving water with occasional rapids.
Grade III : Some rapid water and short drops where accurate positioning is
necessary, or simpler rapids with considerable force of water.
Grade IV : Continuously fast water, with sections demanding accurate
positioning and a wide repertoire of techniques.
Grade V : The most difficult water, with considerable risk in the event of capsize.

* Flood conditions may change any of the above.

On the left side of the river facing downstream.

On the right side of the river facing downstream.

Walking ahead on shore to inspect a rapid or other stretch of river.

Information excerpts from paddling.about.com.