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Intro to Kayaking

Kayaking Lingo - Learn the Paddling Vocabulary

Kayaking doesn’t have to be a foreign language. Learn some simple kayaker lingo and you’ll be well on your way toward paddling the wild blue yonder and and sharing your passion with other paddlers.

Deck - The topmost part of a kayak

Hull - The bottom part of a kayak

Bow - The front of a kayak

Stern - The back of a kayak

Grab Loops/Carry Handles – Bow and stern handles that aid in carrying a kayak

Cockpit - An open area near the center of the kayak where the paddler sits

Bulkhead - Airtight compartments or foam blocks located in the bow and/or stern of sit-inside kayaks to aid in flotation in a capsize situation

Deck Rigging - Bungee or rope on the deck of a kayak, used to secure gear.

Perimeter/Safety Deck Line - A line running along the outer edge of the deck, used for holding on to the kayak in a capsize or rescue situation.

Hatch - An opening on the deck of a kayak, used for storage.

Coaming - The raised lip around the cockpit of a sit-inside kayak.

Keel - Longitudinal structure along the centerline at the bottom of the hull, sometimes extended downward to increase stability and tracking.

Waterline - Where the hull meets the water surface.

Chines - Where the bottom of a boat meets the sides. Soft chines are more rounded; hard chines are more angular.

Skid Plate - An abrasion-resistant material often affixed to the underside of a boat to prevent damage from scraping.

Drain Plug - A plug in the stern that secures the drain hole on a kayak.

Scupper Holes – Self-bailing holes usually located in the seat, tank well and foot peg area of a sit-on-top kayak that allow water to drain (as the kayak moves across the water, these holes create a vacuum, preventing water from getting in).

Scupper Plugs - Plugs for scupper holes; used mostly on choppy waters.

Foot Brace – Small, adjustable (or molded-in) foot pegs for your feet to press against.

Drop Skeg - A tapering or projecting stern section of a kayak’s keel, used to increase tracking; usually retractable by a rope or cable located on the kayak’s side.

Rudder – A blade at the stern of the kayak, controlled by foot pedals in the cockpit (or a hand-lever in fish kayaks), that pivots from side to side to aid turning.

Rocker - The rounded (banana-like) shape of the hull. A kayak with more rocker will have a more rounded bottom from bow to stern (like a rocking chair), and be more maneuverable; less rocker will offer better tracking and speed.

Paddle Float - A safety device used for self-rescue, consisting of an inflatable sleeve which can be strapped to a paddle blade, offering more surface area. When deployed, it can help a swimmer get back into his/her kayak.

Bilge Pump – A cylinder-shaped hand pump designed to remove excess water from inside a kayak.

Spray Skirt - A flexible material (usually nylon or neoprene) with a hole for your torso that attaches to the coaming of a sit-inside kayak to keep water out (popular among sea kayakers as those paddling in cooler climates).

Browse our selection of Perception Accessories including spray skirts, scupper plugs, bilge pumps, kayak carts and more.

See the Hi Life Kayak/SUP shown in this article - it's an award-winning hybrid that's twice the fun!