1. This codification of safe rowing rules is not intended to cover - nor could it cover - every situation that might occur which may present a safety hazard to you or others you row with. Common sense must be applied before and during every row. The purpose of this section is to emphasize common safety standards that apply to the Club, its members, and its equipment. Although rower safety is the primary concern of the Club, your rowing safety cannot be guaranteed without the application of common sense. Each rower must use good judgment in assessing his or her own ability in combination with the weather and water conditions and the effects they can have on boat stability and plan accordingly. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety. Experienced rowers should also offer their assistance to other less experienced rowers if they observe their activities are struggling or not in line with safety protocols. Please consult resources including USRowing.Org, FISA Safety Standards and Recommendations, and other rowing websites or publications for additional information.
2. No club boats are to be rowed on the Trinity River if the water is flowing over the Beach Street dam. (Note: The Club is working towards moving the dock from its present position by the low-water dam to a location approximately 300 feet east of the Beach Street bridge. This rule may be amended if and when that move is complete). Rowing under these conditions is extremely dangerous for even the most experienced rower considering the proximity of the dock to the low-water dam and the swift currents that present themselves after heavy rains. Flipping a boat under these conditions could have disastrous and/or life-threatening consequences – not just for you, but those who might try to help you if they observe you in trouble. The dam height is 16 feet, and you should consider Club boats off-limits when the water is over the dam regardless of whether a no-row declaration has been issued. Check the Club website under the Safety tab for the USGS gauge height and flow rates when considering to row. No-row declarations will normally be issued on the boat reservation app (currently “GroupMe”). Accidents are rare in rowing, but they are not non-existent and all rowers - regardless of their experience level - should exercise diligence and err on the side of caution if the weather or river/lake conditions are questionable.
a. In the event of swamping, capsizing, collision, or "person overboard" and you (or the crewmember) are unable to get back in the boat:
Stay with the boat, using it as a flotation device, and completely put on Personal Flotation Device (PFD) if present. Paddle to shore with the boat and/or flag another rower or boater for assistance. Utilize your cell phone and/or lifejacket whistle to call for assistance.
In all instances, stay with the shell or scull. In nearly every case, some portion of the boat will remain buoyant. Stay with it!
Do not depend on the carbon fiber oars as flotation devices.
Although they may help initially, the oars will eventually fill with water and lose buoyancy.
If you fall out of your boat near either low-water dam, or if the water current will soon put you in close proximity to either dam, do not attempt to get back in your boat; swim with it to the nearest shore and take whatever measures which are necessary to move away from the dam to a location which is safe to get back in your boat, or simply remove the boat from the water and seek assistance.
Even though the river flows away from the dam near 4th Street you should still exercise caution while near it even if you have not capsized. If the current is strong, a backflow of water towards the dam can create a hazard to rowers that could make them fall from their boats.
3. Weather: Using an online weather service or checking local weather news is highly advisable prior to each row (multiple mobile applications are available on all platforms). Judge probable conditions over the duration of the row. Other sources of weather information include personal observations and the local knowledge or experience of other rowers. Before launching, ensure the following:
a. Storms: No thunderstorms and/or lightning are in the area, and the weather is not threatening. Wait thirty (30) minutes after observing the last flash of lightning before launching a boat. Upload a weather application to your phone which shows the location, intensity, and movement of precipitation and the proximity of lightning strikes and refer to the app before every row. (Note: Spring thunderstorms are common in this area and come up quickly. They may be accompanied by high winds.)
b. Cold Weather: While rowing is allowed all year long, rowing in cold weather is dangerous. Members must be aware of the weather and water conditions and make an informed decision on whether to row or not taking those factors into consideration. Uncontrollable shivering, disorientation and impaired judgment start to occur before exhaustion or unconsciousness. The following chart is taken from US Rowing for time in the water:
Water Temp. Exhaustion or Unconsciousness
Under 32 degrees Under 15 minutes
32.4-40 15-30 minutes
40-50 30-60 minutes
50-60 1-2 hours
- Below are recommendations for those who want to row during cold weather:
Do not row when the combined water temperature and air temperature combined are below 100 degrees or the water itself is below 50 degrees. A water temperature gauge is available in the boathouse.
Take a PFD
Take a cell phone
Take a noisemaker such as a whistle.
Row with a buddy
WINDS: High winds can produce choppy water and occasional white caps. Wind speeds above 15 mph at Beach Street, and above 10 mph at Marine Creek Lake, can create very choppy water conditions. Choppy water can dramatically increase rowing difficulty which also increases the likelihood of capsizing your boat. Make it a priority to become familiar with the effect of various wind directions and intensities on areas of the lake and river where you are rowing. Be flexible and be ready to alter or cancel your rowing plans to react to shifting wind directions and intensities.
4. Water traffic
Be aware of hazards on the water which may include:
a. Pleasure/fishing boat traffic (MCL)
b. Other FWRC boats
c. Swimmers (mainly at MCL) and kayakers at both locations
d. Fishermen on the shore with their lines out.
e. Obstructions in the water such as floating logs and debris.
5. Night Rowing
Club boats should not be rowed after dark (1/2 hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise unless all of the following conditions are met:
a. Shells are properly lighted
b. Members must not row alone
c. It is advisable to carry a PFD and a cell phone
6. Club Boat Usage
Scullers, whether in Club boats or their own, are required to comply with these safety rules:
a. To use a Club boat, a sculler must be qualified to use our single, double, and quad sculls.
b. Level 1 certification requires completion of a “Learn to Row” class and passing the Club certification process which in a single includes demonstrated rowing competence, carrying techniques, storage procedures, backwatering, pivoting, swimming certification, and the ability to safely return to the dock.
c. Rowers with previous rowing experience wishing to become a member must also be cleared to row before going out alone.
d. Level 2 is bow certification required for a double or a quad.
e. LTR graduates are required to carry a PFD in a single for the duration of their 3-month membership following completion of the LTR class. If they choose to join the Club at the completion of their 3-month trial membership, the LTR coordinator or a Board member familiar with the skill level of the rower must approve a relaxation of this requirement.
7. Before You Row
a. Enter your name, date, your start time (and finish time after your row is complete), boat rowed, and stroke coach number used (if applicable) in the club logbook regardless of whether you are rowing a club or a personal boat.
b. For most purposes, a quad shell should have at least two-experienced rowers in the crew positioned in the stern and bow.
c. Protective clothing should be worn which is appropriate for the conditions and level of activity. Rowing shells are low profile, thus have poor visibility to other traffic. Make yourself as visible as possible by wearing a “high visibility” shirt of bright yellow, green, pink, or orange. Avoid gray, white, or dark clothing. Each crew member should bring a water bottle. PFDs and Cell phones are also advisable.
d. Carry or use the boat cart to transport the boat to the dock. If using the cart at Beach Street, be sure to secure and lock it to the ground cable near the dock to avoid theft.
e. At MCL, place the orange flags in their holders located on both sides of the dock to notify the public not to congregate on the dock while rowers are active.
f. If you cause or become aware of any equipment damage to the boat or oars you used during your row, enter that information into the logbook after your row.
g. Pay special attention to and inspect the following:
Steering mechanism including the rudder, steering line, and skeg
Decks, vent lids, and plugs are watertight
Bow ball in place (all shells and sculls are required to have a bow ball)
Proper sized boat for the safety of the crew and the equipment
Heel restraints and “quick-release” mechanisms for fitted shoes should not allow the heel to lift more than 5cm (2 inches).
Check the water for any visible hazards.
8. On the Water
a. While on the water, be diligent about any hazards. Also, watch for fishermen on the banks and their fishing lines.
b. Immediate action shall be taken to get off the water and take shelter if lightning is sighted, thunder is heard, or other evidence of an approaching storm is observed.
c. All Club members shall exercise extreme caution when leaving or returning to the dock for other rowers and hazards. This is especially true at MCL as that is an active area for fishing boats, swimmers, and kayaks.
d. Traffic patterns: To avoid boat conflicts on the Trinity River, rowers going upstream are to remain to the north side of the river (shore on starboard side) and rowers coming downstream are to row towards the south side (shore on starboard side). Rowers coming downstream through the overpasses have the right of way. At MCL be cognizant of the water-skiing club practicing near the dam. A diagram is posted at MCL depicting the location of the ski club and the lake itself. A diagram for the Trinity River is also posted at the Beach Street location.
e. If you observe an on-water hazard which is not normally present, enter that information into the logbook after your row and post a message on GroupMe warning other rowers who might launch after you.