Commands for getting a boat out and back in safely
In the boathouse, the boat is on the rack, all four rowers pull the rack out, then two duck under as soon as possible. Coxswain commands are in quotes below.
“Hands on, up two inches and step it out.” “Up to waist, ready up, and step it out”, then “Up to shoulders, ready, up.”
Once the boat has been lifted off the rack and stepped out, rowers should be standing in the middle of the bay, alternating one on each side with the boat resting on one shoulder and the hands holding it steady just in front of the shoulder.
“And walk it out” – rowers walk the boat out of the boathouse.
“Are we clear?” – asked by the bow to ensure the boat is all the way out of the house, so it can be swung towards the ramp without hitting the boathouse.
“Weigh enough” – said at the top of the ramp. If the ramp isn’t very steep, the bow may choose to have rowers carry the boat down on their shoulders rather than over their heads.
If it’s steep, the bow will call, “Up and over heads, ready, up.”
Rowers lift the boat up and over their heads, locking their arms, and then walk the boat down the ramp. Typically, rowers bunch to the stern and bow if the ramp is very steep.
“Weigh enough. Split to shoulders following stroke” – once the bow is clear of the ramp, rowers bring the boat back down to their shoulders, alternating on either side. They continue walking down the dock until the boat is clear of the posts.
“Clear” – said by the last rower holding the boat to indicate it is past the posts. Everyone then stops and turns around, resting the boat on their opposite shoulder.
“Walk it down to the dock” – the rowers closest to the water step from the concrete dock down onto the floating dock and continue walking until all rowers have stepped down onto the floating dock.
“Toes to the edge, up and over heads, ready, up” – rowers put their left toes to the edge and prepare to lift the boat up on command.
“And roll it out and in” – rowers roll the boat down and set it carefully in the water next to the dock, using an inside handhold.
On the dock
Two rowers get the oars – usually one from bow pair and one from stern pair – while the other two begin opening their oarlocks and their pair partner’s. Once the oars are in, foot stretchers can be adjusted, if there’s time. It is typically done on the water.
“Starboard oar across” – all four rowers slide their starboard oar out and onto the water, never letting go of the oar.
“One foot in, and down” – holding on to both oars (always!), rowers place their left foot on a spot between the seat tracks, lift up their right foot and slowly sit down on the seat, while at the same time, sliding their right foot into the footstretcher, then putting their left foot in its footstretcher.
Count down from stroke seat when everyone is ready …
“Stroke, three, two, bow” (Stroke seat is four, bow seat is one).
“Walk it down the dock and push off in three – one, two, three” – rowers use their hands to walk the boat slowly down the dock to the end, then all push off at the same time, on command.
Usually bow pair begin to slowly row the boat out of the breakwater and into the channel. If footstretchers weren’t adjusted on the dock, this is when stern pair adjust theirs. Then bow pair begin the warm-up drills.
“Arms and back for ten. Ready, row” – usually do about ten strokes of each.
“Half slide in two. One, two.”
“Quarter slide in two. One, two.”
“Full slide in two. One, two.”
“Weigh enough in two. One, two” – then stern pair begin the drills, either on the bow’s commands or one of the stern pair calls their commands while the bow pair adjust their footstretchers.
“Hold water!” Remember, the boat has no brakes! If there is ever any danger of hitting anything or anyone, yell this command out as loud as possible on the water or on land. When rowers hear this command, they should square both oars and push them down into the water. Be firm with your arms and DON’T allow the momentum of the boat to push your hands past your sides.
Out on the water – turning the boat around
“Ports to back, starboard to row. Ready, row” – all four rowers should be sitting at the finish position. The port (right) oar should be squared and buried in the water. The starboard (left) oar should be resting flat on the water. Rowers slowly push both oars away from their bodies, following the stroke’s lead.
When they reach the catch, they feather their oars, so the starboard oar is squared and buried, and the port oar is resting flat on the water. Then they slowly pull both oars towards their bodies. They continue doing this – pushing with the port oar and pulling with the starboard oar – until the boat is turned around and the bow calls “weigh enough.”
Keeping the boat on its course
If the boat is going too much to the right, the bow will ask for more pressure on the port oar. If the boat is going too much to the left, the bow will ask for more pressure on the starboard oar, to put it back on course. When the bow calls, “hard on (port or starboard)” – rowers should row harder with the oar on either port or starboard (whichever has been called) until they hear the command, “And even,” – then they begin rowing evenly again with both oars.
Starting to row – all four
“Starting at the catch, two half slides, then full. “Ready, row”– all four rowers should be sitting with their oars at the catch with their blades squared and resting in the water. At the command, they row two half-slide strokes, then begin rowing full slide and continue rowing full slide until another command is given. __________________________________________________________________
Docking the boat
Usually all four rowers will turn the boat from the channel into the breakwater and begin rowing the boat in. At some point, the bow will call for the stern pair to stop rowing.
“Stern pair, drop out.” Then the bow pair will row the boat slowly back to the dock. Sometimes the bow will row the last few strokes alone. As the boat approaches the dock, remember to lift your starboard oar a little to clear the dock and lean away a little so the riggers don’t drag. Once the boat has stopped alongside the dock, loosen your footstretchers, and wait for the command to step out.
“Right foot up, and out” – plant the right foot on the spot between the seat tracks. Push up on that foot and step out, putting your left foot on the dock. Again, never let go of your oars while you are doing this!
Getting the boat out of the water and back into the house
Once rowers are out of the boat, they pull in their port oar and begin removing it from the oarlock. Then they remove the starboard oar. Once both oars are out, one of each rowing pair take the oars up onto the dock and sets them out of the way to be washed. Once all oars are out, rowers stand on the dock next to the boat and wait for the bow’s command to get the boat out of the water.
“Hands on” – rowers squat down, put one hand on the dock side of the boat and one on the far side or grab a hold inside the boat, hold in their core muscles, and prepare to lift the boat.
“Up and over heads, ready, up” – this is a crucial step where all four rowers need to be paying close attention and be in synch. Especially after a long row or a hard race, pulling the boat out of the water is very hard. Rowers must lift the boat with bent arms, and swing it overhead and up as they stand up, straightening their arms in one smooth movement using an inside handhold. They typically face the boathouse when they lift it up, then turn to face the direction they will be walking the boat, and split to shoulders on the bow’s command.
“Split to shoulders, following stroke.” “Down to shoulders, ready, down.” If the boat is too far forward to clear the posts, the bow may command them to walk it back a few steps.
“And walk it up” – the first rowers (farthest from the boathouse on the dock) begin turning the boat and step it up the steps from the floating dock onto the solid dock. They turn it again to the right a little to clear the posts and line it up on the dock, then stop once they hear the “clear” command from the rowers at the other end.
“Walk it forward” – the rowers turn to face the boathouse and walk the boat up to the washing area. Slings are lined up and readied (without completely letting go of the boat). “Down to waist, ready, down.” “And set it in the slings.”
Once it has been washed, rowers line up to carry the boat up the ramp to the boathouse. Usually two rowers station themselves at each end of the boat rather than being evenly-spaced.
“Hands on, up to shoulders, ready, up.” “Walk it forward.”
“Weigh enough” – at the bottom of the ramp.
“Up and over heads, ready, up” – sometimes rowers bunch to the stern and bow if the ramp is very steep. Once the boat is up the ramp and clear of it, rowers begin to turn the boat to the left, making sure the end of the boat doesn’t hit the gray electrical box, located to the right of the boathouse.
Usually the rowers at the end of the boat call out “clear” as the boat is being walked to the left, to indicate it is safe to turn it all the way around. Slings should be placed on landside at each end of the boat in front of whichever bay the boat is going into.
“Up and over heads, ready, up, and roll it down into the slings.” The boat is then dried off completely, taking care to wipe down the riggers, oarlocks, seat tracks and footstretchers thoroughly. Then it’s ready to be carried into the house and put away.
“Up and over heads, ready, up.” “Split to shoulders, following stroke. Down to shoulders, ready, down. Line it up and walk it in” – rowers walk it into the house and line it up with the rack.
“Move to rack height” – lift it so it is just above the rack. “And step it in.”
“Set it down” – the boat should sit on the rack so that the riggers are not touching the rack. If they are, lift up the boat and move it forward or back a little so the riggers are clear of the rack. “In house” or “out of house” are two ways to distinguish which way to adjust the boat.
“Push in the rack” – rowers slowly and gently push the rack in, then head back down to the dock, to wash the oars, dry the oars and put them away.
And that’s it.