River Boating Terminology for Safety


River boating Terminology

Know the local conditions prior to embarking on a river.

  • A bend is a turn in the river course.
  • A reach is a straight portion of riverbed between two bends.
  • A slough is a dead-end branch from a river. Sloughs are normally quite deep and can be distinguished from the true river by their lack of current.
  • Dead water is a part of the river, due to erosion and changes in the river course, that has no current.  Dead water is characterized by excessive snags and debris.
  • An island is usually a pear-shaped mass of land in the main current of the river. Avoid the upstream portion of islands as they usually catch debris.
  • The current in a narrow part of a reach is normally greater than in a wide portion.
  • The current is greatest on the outside of a bend in the river; sandbars and shallow water are found on the inside of the bend.
  • Sandbars are located at points where a tributary feeds into the main body of river or stream. The main course of river usually flows slower than the water in the tributary. This slower flow of the water lets suspended sediments drop onto the riverbed forming sandbars.
  • Choose a member of the crew to watch the water for obstacles and overhanging vegetation and projections (tree trunks, etc.) from the bank.
  • If alone be very observant for any telltale signs, such as unusual waves that might indicate obstacles.

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