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Common Paddling Words Defined

Posted by Valerie Hein-Hamstra on 5/26/2015 to Weird & Interesting Stuff
Bent/Crank Shaft - A type of paddle with bends to improve efficiency, and/or improve ergonomics.

Bow - Front of the boat.

BWCAW - The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Chine - Area where the hull goes from horizontal to vertical. Often called “hard” or “soft” chines. Hard and soft chines have a distinctive feel about them. Some paddlers favor one type over the other.

Crossover - A type of boat (often kayak) designed to do most anything. Slightly larger than a whitewater boat, often with a skeg to increase tracking when needed, and lots of rocker to avoid rocks & other perils when the skeg is up.

Deck - The top of a boat.

Deck lines (or perimiter/static deck lines)- A safety feature. Something for a swimmer to grab to keep the boat from floating away.

Displacement Hull (SUP) - Hull tuned for better tracking with pointy, low rocker nose/bow. Faster than a planing hull on calm water.

Draft - How much of the boat’s hull is in the water.

Freeboard - Distance from the water to the deck. A measure of extra buoyancy.

Gunwale - The upper part of a canoe. Think rim. Pronounced “gun-null.” (You may also hear inwale & outwale on wood gunwales.)

Hull - The bottom part of the boat. Also partner to Oates. :)

Paddle - The device that propels a canoe. Different from an oar in that there is no fulcrum. Rowers use oars.

PFD - Personal Flotation Device, also known as a lifejacket.

Planing Hull (SUP) - A hull tuned for better maneuverability with a raised, rounded nose. Faster than a displacement hull on surf waves.

Rails - The sides of a SUP board.

Rudder - A device to aid tracking (not turning, as most suppose). Rudders flip down, then angle left or right to allow the boat to continue in a straight line.

Rocker - The amount of lift in the ends of a hull. A boat with a lot of rocker (lift) (blue hull) will turn quickly. Boats without rocker (yellow hull) track (and glide) well.

Skeg - A device to aid tracking, typically used in kayaks. Similar to a rudder, but is adjustable in depth, up or down. By adjusting how deep the fin (skeg) rides, the boat can be made to hold its course.

Stern - Back of the boat. Also see “Mom” and/or “Dad”.

SUP - Stand-Up Paddling. A “new” type of paddlesport where people stand up on slightly modified surfboards and add additional thrust via long bent-shaft paddles.

Tails - The aft part of a SUP board, describling 4 different designs: swallow, pin, round, and square.

Thwart - Things that connect both sides of a canoe’s gunwales. Not for sitting, but can be a support for kneeling.

Tracking - A term used to mean how well a boat wants to go in a straight line. Expedition touring boats are often great tracking boats. The opposite of tracking is turning.

Trim - When the ends of a boat are equallly submerged.

Yoke - A device to help carry a boat (canoe) on your shoulders. Not for sitting.

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