If you are planning a white water rafting expedition, it is important for you to know and understand the different terminology used in the activity. Even if you aren’t leading the boat yourself, you need to know what the rest of the crew is saying to you, otherwise you may not correctly relate instructions to others in the boat, or you may even perform the improper maneuver, which can lead you in a completely opposite direction. Because of this, going over the most used whitewater rafting terminology is going to go a long way in ensuring you are always safe and know what the instructor and tour guides are telling you to do.
A back pivot is a more in which you turn the raft from a ferry angle to a stem downstream positioning. This is generally only used when in a tight location and you need to recover from the current ferry angle. The move helps move the raft through a narrow passing, as it may need to come in closer contact with objects in the water.
Chances are, while you are out rafting, your tour guide is going to point out different sand ‘bars’ along the way. These are a build up of sand, rocks and other debris that pushes up along the bottom of the river, making it incredibly shallow in given areas. Generally, you are instructed to avoid these sand bars at all times to avoid beaching the raft.
This is a common term used in reference to very fast currents with large waves, which may lead to turbulence. You are told this to prepare yourself for the upcoming “big water.” Chances are, if this is your first time going down rapids, you won’t come in much contact with this kind of water.
This is a move in which the raft slides directly over rocks and then drops off the rocks so the bottom of the raft lands completely level with the water. This keeps the water on the surface. If the nose were to land in the water first it would cause it to either flip or submerge in water.
This is when you want to turn the raft right before it comes in contact with rocks, as it is able to rotate the raft around the rock.
This is when you dig your paddle deep into the downstream current in order to gain better traction and resistance. This is usually used to move rafts through larger holes in the rapids.
The Eddy is a location in the rifer where the current either completely stops flowing or it turns upstream instead. this generally occurs when it is located right below an obstruction and on the inside of a bend.
This is generally exactly what it is sounds. You basically push a raft or boat into the current and let it float away. This gives the appearance of a ghost captaining the the raft.
This is clued for when there is a shift towards faster, more violent rapids. This is just a common phrase used when you need to be on the ready for what is coming ahead of you.
When an instructor or tour guide yells to get to the High Side, it means you need to jump to the upstream side of the raft. This command is usually used right before a collision with rocks and other obstacles. When performed fast enough, the current allows the raft and everyone else to travel around the rock and other obstacles, instead of going directly over it, which can cause damage to both the boat and people inside of it.
A logjam is an occurrence when there are logs dammed up along one another across the river. This usually only occurs in smaller streams but can become rather dangerous, especially when the logs are not seen and partly (or completely) submerged. When this happens, it can lead to accidents and may result in injury, if the logjam is not avoided.
Knowing and understanding different terminology while going on rafting trips is impotent, as you need to know what the instructor and tour guide is telling you. This helps you react faster and ensures you are safer than if you just sign up for the trip and show up. There are literally hundreds of different terms used while white water rafting, but as long as you understand these basics, you should be alright to start off.
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Citations: Image by Kaydin Carlsen