River Lingo

Hang around the guides at Outland long enough, and you’ll soon know we have our own language. This slang is essential to communicating with your guide and your fellow passengers while Ocoee River rafting. Brush up on your river lingo below while you are at home practicing your social distancing and we can’t wait to see you this summer!

River Slang Terms to Know

Bar – an accumulation of sand or rock along the river banks or in the river channel

Boof or boofing – the sound or act of a raft or kayak when it hits big air and slaps against the water

Bow – the front of the boat

C.F.S. – cubic feet per second; the measurement of volume flowing in a river

Confluence – the point where two or more rivers merge

Dig or Dig in – paddle command used for paddlers to “dig” paddles deep in the water to propel the raft forward

Dry bag – waterproof bag used for storage

Duckies – inflatable kayaks

Dumptruck – when a raft literally dumps everyone and everything into the water and carries on downstream

Eddy – a place where the current of the river either stops or changes directions

Eddy fence – the water between the eddy and the current

Flatwater – calm water without rapids or high waves

High water – water flow is above average with fast currents

High side – a command meaning all paddlers move to the high side of the raft to re-distribute the weight, preventing a flip or dump truck

Hole – where water flows over an obstacle and reverses back into itself

Groover – portable toilet on the trip; the name comes from early models of ammo cans that had no toilet seats and would leave grooved lines on passengers’ backsides

Left bank or the river left – the left side of the river when facing downstream

Line – the path through a rapid

Low water – water flow is below average with more rocks and obstacles

P.F.D. – personal flotation device

Put-in – the spot where a river trips start

Rapid – a stretch of water that has fast-moving and turbulent water

Riffle – a small rapid of shallow, bubbly water

River mile – a term used for the miles along a river, beginning at the mouth

Right bank or river right – right side of the river when facing downstream

Runoff – water from snow melt which flows down from the mountains

Sinus cleaner – a short, unexpected plunge where water may get up your nose

Stern – the back of the boat

Swamper – a crewman who helps with camp setup, cooking, and any other odd tasks

Take-out – the spot where a river trips end

Do you know of any river lingo we forgot to mention? Is there something that you’d like more clarification of? Let us know.

Have a great week!

—Outland Expeditions, Inc.


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Photo courtesy of Outland Expeditions, Inc.