ROW ONLY IN SAFE CONDITIONS
It's important to understand that the club depends on your own evaluation of conditions, which may be undefined. Do not row when the river is at or near 'action' level. Even if the level is not high, conditions could be hazardous with high flow rate, debris, dangerous docking conditions or bad weather. Take time to observe conditions and ask for advice from rowers with experience. You are assuming the risks for determining if it is safe to row. It is highly recommended to carry a dry-bag with a phone or to row with a safety launch if possible. Consider what you will do if a dangerous event occurs and how you will get help. If a condition is life threatening, call 911 for assistance.
Important areas of concern are:
- River Height / Flow
- Lightning / Adverse Weather
- Boat Traffic / Swimmers
- Dock Safety
RIVER HEIGHT / FLOW
Use lights on boats if rowing in early or late darkness or low light. Use white continuous or blinking bow light or light that can be seen from bow side. A red stern light can be used for additional visibility as seen from stern.
LIGHTNING / ADVERSE WEATHER
Lightning on the river is very dangerous and may occur even when local conditions look good. Do not row in conditions where lightning may occur. If conditions look variable or unpredictable for lightning, stay close to the dock to allow quick recovery to land if needed.
If thunder is heard, do not row. Wait for at least 45 minutes after hearing thunder before reconsidering a row. If thunder is heard a second time, re-start the 45-minute count. If thunder is heard a third time, cancel the row.
Rowing in light rain is fine. Rowing in very heavy rain or wind can swamp the boat, can impede navigation and risks damage to equipment. Again, if conditions are variable, stay close to the dock. If extreme lightning occurs such as seeing a strike nearby, land the boat on shore and exit the water until conditions improve.
Early or late-season conditions can be cold and pose risks for hypothermia. Use the ‘100-degree rule’ where the combined air and water temperature in Fahrenheit should sum to at least 100 degrees. Dress for weather but also consider the effects of capsizing where wet clothes will not help. Ensure that you have assistance available if you become wet in cold conditions. Carry a dry-bag with a phone.
During summer, temperatures can become very hot and humid. Use sunscreen, carry sufficient water and have assistance available in the event of heatstroke. Modify workouts if necessary for heat.
BOAT TRAFFIC / SWIMMERS
Numerous boaters and swimmers share our home waters at Robious and at Rockett’s Landing. It is very important to use the river safely and respectfully. Do not impede others’ use of the river! Always stay to the right (starboard) side of the river. If multiple boats row together, ensure that there is a reasonable pathway for opposite traffic and for power boats to pass.
Most powerboats will pass our crew boats carefully. Be aware that some powerboats’ minimum wake may occur at a higher speed than you expect. Be an ambassador for our club and avoid confrontation or harsh words. Do report unsafe boating behavior.
Beware of swimmers, paddle boarders, kayakers or other recreational hazards. Modify workout pieces if needed to slow down and check conditions. Take special care near ramps and docks. Swimmers especially can be very difficult to see.
Practice moving efficiently on the dock to allow access for other crews. As a general rule, launch and land heading upstream although heading downstream may be required in some cases. Approach the dock slowly. If the boat is not lined up properly for safe landing, go around and try again. Protect the equipment. Be respectful of others using the river, especially at public dock (Robious).
Keep your equipment in good condition and carry any tools needed for adjustment or on-water repair. Check gear before launching. Follow VBC guidelines for equipment usage. If damage occurs during a row, return to the dock immediately and report damage to the boathouse manager. Additionally, leave a note on the equipment noting the damage along with your name.
Members are expected to follow these rules and guidelines. If a member does not act accordingly or acts with negligence or disrespect for safety, the VBC board reserves the right to sanction a member, including loss of equipment or facility privileges.
USE CAUTION. ROW SAFELY.