Paddlers' Dictionary
Send comments or suggestions to:
Dams Dams can be dangerous, especially if you don't see them. They are often difficult to spot from the river. Check maps and guide books before you go. The biggest danger comes from small low head dams that stretch river wide and produce keeper hydraulics.

Deck The upper half of a kayak or decked canoe.

Deck Plate A small deck at either end of an open canoe.

Eddy The quiet (often a relative term) area down current of an obstruction in the current. A rock, a bridge pier or a bend in the river may form an eddy. A place to rest and plan your next move. The line where the whitewater meets the quiet eddy water is called the eddy line. The stronger the current, the more defined the eddy line. Entering and leaving eddies is done using eddy turns and peel outs. (An older method, called setting, back ferries the boat in and out of eddies. It is gentler on the equipment and works even with boats that are harder to turn, such as sea kayaks and downriver racing boats.)
...Eddy Turn A technique of entering an eddy by crossing the eddy line from the current. This is done by starting up current of the eddy, paddling into it at an angle with proper velocity. The boat will turn up current. Sufficient lean to the inside of the turn will prevent the boat and paddler from flipping. With proper speed, angle and lean, the boat will make the turn. You would be hard pressed to stop it. The correct bracing stroke helps a little, but very little.

Ender or Pop-up A play move where you maneuver the boat into a spot where the river pushes the bow down, thus lifting the stern into the air. Doing this just right in the right spot can launch the boat into the air backwards. Going in stern first results in a back ender.

Eskimo Roll Basic self-rescue technique for kayakers and canoeists. The paddle and body are used to turn the boat right side-up after a capsize. Some even do it without a paddle (hand roll).

Ferry A method of crossing a current without washing down current. The boat faces up current, at an angle to the current. It is paddled up current with sufficient effort to overcome the down current drift of the boat due to the current. The force of the water on the side of boat pushes it to one side. In a back ferry, the boat faces down current and the paddler or paddlers use a backstroke.

Fiberglass (or Glass) This term describes both a cloth made of spun glass fibers, and a method of boat construction, even when it includes non-glass fabrics such as Kevlar, carbon fiber and Spectra. Glass (particularly Kevlar) boats are light, strong and abrasion resistant. They may be made in complex shapes with well-defined edges. Their one weakness is that they can be cracked or punctured if abused enough. Unlike Royalex and molded polyethylene boats they are very easy to repair.
...Sheets of glass fabric are laid into a mold and impregnated with a resin. The excess resin is removed either by hand or by enclosing the hull and mold in a plastic bag and applying a vacuum. When the resin cures, the hull is removed from the mold and finished. Decked boats are molded in two halves, and the halves joined together. Resins commonly used include polyester and vinylester. Epoxy, higher priced and stronger bonding, is usually reserved for outfitting and repairs.
...Fiberglass construction usually involves many layers. A typical layup for whitewater boats might be two outer layers of glass fabric, two inner layers of Kevlar fabric, and selective stiffening with carbon fiber. Glass is least expensive and most abrasion resistant. Kevlar offers high strength and low weight, but at a much higher price. Carbon fiber is very strong and very pricey. These fibers are all very strong in tension, with very little strength in compression, shear, or torsion.

Flair See Hull Design.

Flatwater Generally, any water that does not have current and drop sufficient to produce waves. River trips rated class 1 are often called flatwater, even though they may have small waves. Broad water paddling, such as large lakes, bays and the ocean, may be far from flatwater trips.

Flotation, Extra Canoe and kayak hulls usually float when full of water, but just barely. Paddlers add extra flotation to their boats in the form of air bags and waterproof plastic foam to increase buoyancy. The extra floatation acts as a life jacket for the boat, allowing it to ride high and survive unmanned trips through rocky rapids. Extra floatation in decked boats is invisible to the casual observer. In an open boat, it's obvious. Extra flotation is required on many whitewater streams located in state and other parks. For example, the Lehigh and the Yough.