Do you understand your boat?


Many kayak parts have easy-to-understand names; others, not so much. Our easy-to-understand visual guide explains what's what and where it's located.


Getting Oriented to Your Kayak

1. Bow: the part that’s pointed where you’re headed

2. Stern: the part that’s pointed where you were

3. Port: boatspeak for the left side

4. Starboard: boatspeak for the right side

Anatomy of a Sit-in Kayak

(not all boats have all these things

1. Deck: the topside

2. Hull: the bottom piece

3. Keel: the bow-to-stern ridge on your hull

4. Cockpit: where you get in and command your craft

5. Seat: your base of operations that sits within your cockpit

6. Coaming: boatspeak for the edge of the cockpit

7. Deck line: This can be stretchy (a bungee) or nonstretchy (static)

8. Hatch: your portal to an inner cargo area

9. Carry handles: an easy place to get a grip

10. Rudder or skeg: A skeg is a static drop-down fin and a rudder is an adjustable flip-down fin. Either of these help keep you on track.

11. Bulkhead: a wall inside your boat that keeps water from swamping your cargo space (not pictured)

12. Foot braces: adjustable rests inside the footwell; you control your rudder with these (if your boat has one)

13. Thigh braces: the pads that hug your thighs in the cockpit of a well-fit boat

Anatomy of a Sit-on-Top Kayak

(not all boats have all these things)

1. Deck: the topside

2. Hull: the bottom piece

3. Keel: the bow-to-stern ridge on your hull

4. Seat: your base of operations

5. Foot braces or footwells: foot braces are adjustable while footwells are built into the boat at intervals

6. Deck line: This can be stretchy (a bungee) or nonstretchy (static)

7. Hatch: your portal to an inner cargo area

8. Carry handles: an easy place to get a grip; many sit-on-tops have them in multiple locations.

9. Scupper holes: drain holes for water that sloshes across your deck

10. Rudder or skeg: A skeg is a fixed drop-down fin, while a rudder is a flip-down fin that can be adjusted. Either of these will help you keep on track.

Credit: Rei Expert, 2021

Paraphrased by: Joey Tai

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