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  • Anatomy of a Kayak

    The names given to the parts of a kayak may be helpful. Knowing them will help you better understand the boat you are paddling, and communicate better with other kayakers by using precise terminology.
    Anatomy of a Kayak


    The hull is a kayak's underside. Its shape and width determine stability. Sea kayaks have more of a V-shaped hull, while white water kayaks have more of a rounded hull.


    Front and Back

    The front of a kayak is called the fore end and the back is called the after end, or aft. The front of the kayak that is in the water is called the bow, and the back of the kayak that is in the water is the stern.

    Where You Sit

    The area in which you sit in a kayak is called the cockpit, and the rim around this area on which you affix your spray skirt is the cockpit coaming. The rim around the boat where the deck ends and the hull begins is the gunwale.

    Skeg and Rudder

    Some kayaks have a skeg, like a fin, many of which are now designed to be retractable on the aft end of the hull. This helps a kayak run straight in the wind. Rudders are used similarly to help maintain course, and can be shifted, left or right, by foot-operated pedals in the cockpit.

    Atop the Deck

    Atop the deck of the kayak should be the fore deck and rear deck elastics, which are used to hold gear, tow lines, tow line anchor point (behind the cockpit), and an end toggle at each tip of the boat for carrying. Some kayaks also have a foredeck compass.


    Article Written By Naomi Judd

    Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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