How to stay safe on the water

Safe Sport Policy
OAR Safety Guidelines
OAR Fog Safety Guidelines
OAR Equipment Cleaning Protocol

Here’s a short refresher on how to stay safe when rowing (this is actually right out of your class handout, but if, like some of us, you lose your handout immediately after you finish the class and only find it two years’ later or never find it, then it’s nice to have something online to refer to).

Before launching, check all equipment: hull, rigging, footstretchers, seat and oars. Do not row defective equipment — it will only make the damage worse. Tag defective equipment (tie a piece of yellow caution tape on the boat — preferably the part that needs fixing) and make a note on the equipment board in the boathouse.

Log in on the Boat Use Log Sheet and mark down how long you expect to be on the water.

When you leave the dock in a boat, you are taking responsibility for your safety and the safety of others on the water. Be alert at all times, and look where you are going.

It bears repeating! When rowing, turn around and look frequently. Know where you are and where other boats and obstacles (channel markers, buoys, moored boats, the island, and deadheads) are at all times. Keep clear by steering away from these early.

Row with another boat. If you choose to row alone, stay close to shore and wear something visible so you can be seen. Bright green and red are good colors.

Learn and conform to the traffic pattern. In general, it’s counter-clockwise – closer to the shore going north along East Bay Drive, and out in the middle on the way back in.

Yield right of way to power and sailboats maneuvering out of the marina, since their channel is very narrow. Stay out of the ship channel, (between the green and red channel markers).

Stay with your boat if it swamps or you flip. Climb back in, if possible. If necessary, push the boat to shore. Do not attempt to swim to shore without the boat or an oar.

It’s wise to practice getting back in the boat from the water (this, of course, means you first have to get out of your boat — you don’t have to flip it to do that. Chances are, though, you’ll get some practice doing this whether you intend to or not).

In cold weather, wear layers of wool or polypropylene, and stay close to shore. Hats help tremendously to provide warmth, and they don’t get in your way while you’re rowing. If you wear clothing with pockets, make sure they zip closed. You don’t want to get your oar handle caught!

In hot weather, and if you’re working out hard, drink water before, during and after rowing. Carry a plastic water bottle in the boat. If it’s hard plastic, please slip a sock over it to keep it from damaging the boat.

If you hear thunder or see lightning, get off the water as soon as possible. If you can’t get to the dock in time, try to get on land from a dock near you.

There’s a pay phone at the marina kiosk at the top of the dock. Emergency numbers are posted there.

DO NOT ROW IN THE FOG OR IN THE DARK. You should return to the dock when you see the street lights come on.  If you cannot see 500 yards (the distance from the dock to the red and green channel markers), do NOT row.

Don’t forget to strap a personal flotation device to your boat before you go out.