The term slackwater refers to a stillness, or even stagnancy, in a body of water that usually sees regular flow or movement. In the ocean, slackwater occurs when the tide is neither ebbing out nor flowing in, that moment when the current or tension of tidal flow is absent, or “slacked.” Slack-water can also be found in the stillest sections of a river, or otherwise outside the current’s sway—in eddies or behind objects such as dams—where it’s been known to confuse fish accustomed to the river’s flow. The Columbia River’s slackwater lakes are what allow barges to navigate the river downstream all the way to Portland, Oregon. Whether in the ocean or on a river, these calm stretches of water often provide a brief stopping point for boats seeking easier navigation and rest.

Lan Samantha Chang