Blue Sky’s 11 “Must-Know” Rafting Terms

For the average recreational whitewater rafter that only been rafting once or twice before, there are some terms that your guide may use that will sound like they are speaking an alien language. Luckily, Blue Sky is here to help you decipher this “guide’s code.” We’re not saying that if you don’t know these terms you’re doomed, but if you bring up one of these terms and your guide knows what you are talking about (e.g. “That curler was gnarly!”), give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it.

11. Staircase – A stretch of river where water pours over a series of drops that resemble a staircase.

10. Strainer – Brush, fallen trees, bridge pilings, or anything else that allows the current to sweep through. These can be dangerous and our guides are thoroughly trained to recognize and avoid them.

9. Flip line – A line or rope used to turn a flipped boat right side up. These may be tied across a boat’s bottom or worn as part of a belt around a guide’s waist. All guides are required to carry one just in case.

8. “Nice Looking Rubber” – One of the higher compliments that can be paid on a raft.

7. Curler – A high, steep wave that curls or falls back onto its own upstream face.

6. Boulder Garden – A rapid densely strewn with boulders that necessitate intricate maneuvering.

5. CFS – Cubic feet per second. A value measuring the velocity of a river normally from 0 to 20,000 that indicates the volume of water flowing per second past any given point along a river. For example, the CFS of the Wenatchee River this weekend is going to be somewhere around 12,000.

4. Ghost Boat – To push a boat out into the current and let it float empty through a rapid.

3. Sandpaper – Small, choppy waves over shallows.

2. Eddy – A place where the current either stops or turns to head upstream. Usually found below obstructions and on the inside of bends.

1. Wild Thing – A technique for freeing a boat hung up on a rock by having the entire crew jump around like crazy monkeys.


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About blueskyoutfitters

Blue Sky Outfitters offers exciting rafting adventures on the Wenatchee and Tieton Rivers in Central Washington, the Methow River near Lake Chelan, and the White Salmon River near the Columbia Gorge. Blue Sky Outfitters has provided exciting, all-inclusive fun-filled rafting adventures in Washington State for over 30 years. Give us a call today at (800) 228-7238 or email us at for more information.

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