River Rafting Glossary
Ammo Box. A waterproof military surplus box with a hinged lid, most likely from World War II but still available and very popular. Serves, among other things, a guide's personal stuff.
Beam. The width of a boat or raft
Bitchin' Whitewater Dude. Derogatory term for a male guide who is too full of himself.
Biner. "beaner". Short for carabiner.
Boatman. Common term for river guide before women came into the field, creating the need for a gender-neutral term.
Boil. Where the current comes up to the surface in a manner that looks like the water is boiling
Breaking Wave. A wave that periodically erupts into something bigger.
Bucket boat. A non-self-bailing raft.
Cam Strap. Polyester strap with a cam buckle, used to secure loads.
Carabiner. An oval shaped metal clip with a spring hinge. First designed for mountain climbing but now common among river runners. See Biner.
Cataraft. A raft consisting of two parallel tubes and no floor
CFS or Cubic Feet Per Second. A measure of river volume. The number of cubic feet of water passing a given point every second
Chicky Pail. A galvanized metal bucket used to heat water for doing dishes etc.
Chute. A narrow channel of water between obstructions, usually steeper and faster than the rest of the river.
Curler. A steep wave that breaks upstream
Cushion. A layer of slow water that piles up on the front side of an exposed rock.
Day Bag. A small waterproof bag that is available during the day.
Diagonal Wave. A wave that is breaking not directly upstream but at an angle.
Dry Bag. A large waterproof bag for camping gear, often not readily available during the day
Duckie. Slang for inflatable kayak
Dumptruck. To tip a raft to the point where people fall out, but not actually flip
Eddy. A place where the water is stopped, moving significantly; slower than the main current, or actually flowing counter to the current. Created by obstacles in the river. Used wisely to slow down or stop.
Eddy Fence. A line where the eddy water abuts the main current. In fast water, an eddy fence can become a vortex that can actually flip rafts.
Eddy Out. To slow down or stop by pulling into an eddy.
Falls. Significant drop in the river, creating a rapids but not necessarily vertical.
Ferry. To move a boat from one side of the river to another
Ferry Angle. Where the boat is positioned to move from one side of the river to the other. Often in preparation of a move
Flip. To turn a boat all the way upside down, or capsize.
Ghost Boat. A raft in current with no one in it. Often by accident, sometimes on purpose in rapids that might flip the boat and where there a good recovery point below.
Gradient. The steepness or incline of a river, measured in the number of feet the river drops per mile. A key factor in determining the difficulty of a river or section of river.
Groover. A portable river toilet.
Highside. To move to the high, or rising side of a raft to keep it from wrapping or flipping
Hole. An actual indentation in the river, caused by an upstream obstacle, normal a submerged rock. The water is either still or moving back upstream to fill the void created by the obstacle.
Hoopy. Tubular nylon cord used to tie down loads,. More common before the invention of cam straps.
Hydraulics. Big holes and waves, caused by high water.
Keeper. A hole or reversal big enough to stop and hold a raft.
Line. Either a segment of rope or hoopy, the route through a complicated rapid, or what a guide tells a guest in hopes of getting laid or a big tip.
Oar. A long, stout pole with a blade on one end attached to the boat in a way that allows the use of leverage to propel the boat. NOT a paddle.
Oar Frame. The frame, once wood but now usually metal, that is secured to the boat and provides the basis for oar leverage.
Oar Rig. A raft rigged with a frame, to be rowed with oars.
Paddle. A short pole, not attached to the boat, held by both hands and used to paddle the boat. The action of using a paddle. NOT to be confused with OAR.
Paddle Boat. A raft that is paddled rather than rowed.
Paddle Captain. The person who calls commands and steers the paddle boat.
Perch. To get stuck on a rock but not wrap. Often the distinction is whether or not ropes are needed to get off. No ropes needed, it’s a perch. Ropes need? It’s a wrap.
Pillow. See cushion.
Pool. A deep, quiet stretch of river.
Pool-and-drop. The kind of river in which rapids tend to be abrupt but short, and followed by a stretch of calm water.
Put-in. The spot where a river trip begins, or the act of beginning a trip.
Reversal. A hole where the downstream water actually moves back upstream to fill the void created by the object creating the hole. Actually a vertical eddy. Also called a keeper and sometimes powerful enough to hold a raft for hours.
River Guide. A person who is paid to take people down a river, usually in a raft. Someone who has discovered how to have fun at someone else’s expense. See Boatman
River Right or Left. Directions always given when facing downstream.
River Outfitter. A person who provides guiding services and the necessary equipment, food etc. for running rivers.
Standing Wave. A wave that is stationary and relatively constant.
Sweep Boat. Either the last boat in a group, and carrying the safety gear, first aid kits, etc. OR, on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, the large gear boat with a oar on the bow and and oar on the stern. Can be used only on rivers with constant downstream current as they can’t be rowed downstream.
Sweep Rig. See second definition of a sweep boat
Swimmer. A person who has fallen out of a boat
Take-out. Where a river trip ends, or the act of ending a trip.
Throwbag. A bag with a rope tucked into it and attached at the bottom. Thrown while holding on to the end of the rope to people in trouble. It is easier to throw the bag than to throw loose line.
Tongue. The inverted V of water above a rapid or rifle that is where most of the water is flowing, and where the boater will normally go.
Wrap. When a raft hits a downstream rock broadside, the downstream tube works up the rock and the downstream tube sinks, filling with current. The current can put literally tons of pressure on the boat, making it very difficult to get off. Much more troublesome than a flip or perch.
Z-rig. A system of ropes and pulleys giving mechanical advantage when dealing with a wrapped boat.