Q&A with Beth Groundwater discussion

Question: define some rafting terms

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message 1: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
Patricia, in another group, asked me to define some of the whitewater rafting terms that are used in Deadly Currents. I hope folks will understand most of them by context and how they're used, but I'm happy to oblige. I'll start with the basics, "current" and "eddy", which appear in plural form in the titles of the first two books in the series (the second, coming out in May, 2012 is titled Wicked Eddies).

Current - the flow of the moving water, which in rivers is always downstream, from higher elevation to lower. The greater the gradient and the more constricted the flow (as in a canyon), the faster the current.

Eddy - a calm section of water behind an upstream obstacle that blocks the current. The "eddy line" is the boundary between the current moving downstream and the calm water in an eddy that may be gently circling or even moving upstream. To "eddy out" means to move your boat over the eddy line into the eddy, so it's out of the current and resting behind the upstream obstacle. The obstacle may be a large boulder or set of boulders, a small peninsula or some other partial blockage of the current.

Cataraft - the water craft used by river rangers on the upper Arkansas River. It's like a small catamaran without a sail. Two inflatable pontoons are connected with a metal platform strapped between them on which the ranger sits in a seat and maneuvers in the river using oars. To see some photos of catarafts, go to:

Standing wave - a stationary wave formed as a river flows over a bump in its bed. The water forming the wave moves downstream and is replaced by fresh water in the wave, but the wave itself does not move downstream. A large standing wave is called a haystack. A series of standing waves gives rafters a lovely roller coaster ride as they float downstream.

Hydraulic - can also be a called a keeper, hole, souse-hole or stopper. It occurs when the river current washes over an obstacle into a depression in the river bed, flows back up and around and down again. So it recirculates continuously and holds things in the "vertical whirlpool" without letting them flush downstream. Large hydraulics can be very dangerous if a swimmer is caught in one and can't get out.

That's it for now. If folks run across more terms they don't understand as they read the book and want to ask me the meaning here, please do!

message 2: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
Here's some more whitewater rafting terms for you, so you can talk like a real "river rat". And that's the first term!

River rat - someone who is hooked on running whitewater and needs a daily fix bad. So bad, they're willing to work for peanuts as a rafting guide and live in a tent all summer so they can run the river once or twice a day. :) Similar to a ski bum, but the sought-after thrill is riding water downhill versus skis or a snowboard.

Ducky - an inflatable kayak, usually for one person and usually bright yellow in color. Primarily used by tourists running low-grade rapids, not by expert kayakers.

Oar - Used in pairs and with oarlocks by a person who sits with his back downstream, in the direction of travel.

Paddle - Used singly on one side of the boat or raft without any oarlock by a person facing downstream, in the direction of travel.

Throw bag, throw rope - A rope-filled bag used to rescue swimmers. One end of the rope is connected to the inside of the bag. The rescuer holds the loose end of the rope and throws the bag to the swimmer.

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