A List of Sea Kayaking Terms for Your Kayak Vacation

Sea kayaking, like all other maritime endeavors, has developed an arry of special terms. Knowing some of the common paddling terms can be helpful on your next kayak vacation. So here is our list of sea kayaking terms from S to Z to finish your nautical education. Remember, knowledge of these kayaking phrases is not needed to enjoy a kayak vacation with Sea Quest. Your guides will teach you everything you need to know and more!

Sea Kayaking Terms & Definitions from S to Z

Sculling – A supportive stroke characterized by a side to side movement of the paddle using quick changes of power face angles. Can also be used as a “draw stroke” technique.
Seam – The inch-wide line along the gunnels of a fiberglass kayak where the deck and hull are joined together.
Seas – Steep or choppy waves that are created nearby from wind and dissapate quickly when the wind abates. Also called wind waves.
Skeg – A small fin mounted on the stern keel that provides increased tracking in windy conditions on rudderless kayaks.
Shoal – A shallow area in a body of water, often formed by a sandbar or reef.
Slack water – A brief period of stillness (or slower currents) that occurs when at the transition from ebb to flood or back again. See “ebb” and “flood”.
Solo kayak – A one-person kayak, also known as a single kayak.
Spray skirt – The garment worn around the paddler’s waist that attaches to the cockpit coaming to keep water from entering the kayak.
Stability – A measure of how difficult it is to capsize. The kayaks used by Sea Quest are designed to be very stable.
Standing wave – A wave that remains stationary, often found in “tide rips”.
Starboard – The right side of the kayak when facing the bow. Opposite of “port”.
Stern – The rear of the kayak or other water craft.
Strait – A broad expanse of water that separates two large land masses. See “channel”.
Stroke – A variety of paddling movements used to control the speed and direction of a kayak.
Surfing – Riding a steep wave front; to be avoided by beginner kayakers.
Swamp – When a kayak is inadvertently filled with water by passing waves.
Swells – Large rounded waves formed in the ocean by the consolidation of many smaller wind waves (which are called “seas”). Swells can travel across the world and create surf on shore.
Tandem kayak – A two-person kayak, also know as a double kayak.
Tide rip – Something of a misnomer that should be called a “current rip” as they have nothing to with tides! A so-called tide rip can form when strong currents collide or otherwise conflict to create patches of rough, choppy water. Severe rips can develop whirlpools and other interesting features and are often used as play areas by experienced sea kayakers.
Triple kayak – A three-person kayak, often used by families with children. Adventure racing teams prefer them as they are the fastest of all sea kayaks.
Vhf radio – Very High Frequency radiotelephone; used for two-way communication between vessels and to obtain current weather conditions and forecasts.
Waterline – The line of water along the hull of a kayak or other water craft when it is afloat.
Wave crest – The summit of a wave, opposite of the trough.
Wave trough – The depression between two wave crests.
Weather rIP – A rough area of water caused by winds and currents flowing in the opposite direction of each other which increases the surface friction and raises waves.
Wet exit – Exiting a capsized kayak when rolling is not an option.
Windward – The direction from which the wind blows. The opposite of “leeward”.

Click here for our sea kayaking glossary from A to F.
Click here for our sea kayaking dictionary from G to R.

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