Coastal rowing and safety are inseparable. Regardless of whether it concerns the right safety equipment or measures for re-entering the boat in the event of capsizing! The conditions at the coast are unpredictable, which makes Coastal Rowing such a fun but also dangerous at times as this picture from Isa Scheunpflug shows.
Coastal Rowing and safety. Do the check:
Here is an overview of what coastal rowers should always have on their boat:
- A whistle for every rower in an emergency
- A PFD (Personal Flotation Device) or life jacket for every rower. The cox MUST wear the PFD at all times!
- At least 2 mobile phones in waterproof cases or a radio. Save distress numbers in advance.
- An 8-10m long floating bowline, attached to the boat in the most secure way.
Coastal Rowing Safety Rules
Do you know the safety rules?
Rowing on the coast and in open water brings inherently dangerous conditions. Wind, waves, obstacles and cold water. Crews rowing in the bay near the coast have to adhere to stricter safety standards than are usual for rivers or lakes. In the event of capsizing:
- If you capsize: stay with your boat.
- Do you know how to save yourself and get back on the boat?
- Carry a whistle with you.
- Avoid getting between a boat, freighter, or obstruction and a breaking wave, those waves and currents are stronger than you might know it from a river.
- Stay on the wave side of the boat and not between the wave and the boat.
- The same applies to rowers near a pier or stones, fish traps, etc. If possible, stay on the bay side of the boat to avoid getting caught between the boat and the obstacle.
- Hold one of the tips of the boat, stern, or bow into the waves or wind (whichever is stronger).
- Head Count: counting heads again and again.
- Always stay together. The crew should remain in one group and use the boat, PFDs, and oars as swimming aids.
- Nobody should ever leave the group or the boat until they are on land or at the lifeboat.
- You can only move towards the shore with the boat when you comes into contact with the ground.
- However, this should only be done as a group. Use the buddy system. Distribute the crew evenly on the boat.
- In cold water: rowers should lift as much body mass out of the water and put it on the boat. This saves energy and protects against hypothermia
- Please do not try to swim on land. The visual perception on the water changes dramatically and the distance to the shore (or to an object such as another boat) seems much closer than it really is. Wait for the rescue launch to arrive unless the crew can touch the ground and wade safely to shore.
“Man over board!” – What happens next?
If crew members go overboard, all crews must know and obey the following safety rules:
Whistling and attention:
If a crew member falls off a boat, one of the remaining rowers or crew should whistle to get attention.
Tasks for the cox:
The cox gives the order: rudder stop – easy oar. She/he gives instructions to row in the direction of the overturned person.
The rest of the crew:
Only seats 1-3 row. If close enough: Seat No. 4 loosens his/her skull and hands it to the capsized crew member.
If possible, the rower should re-enter the boat. Different variations are possible here:
The cox grabs the person or lets him pull him up by the rigger. The rest of the crow has to keep the boat in a balance.
First aid necessary? Another rower may need to get into the water to provide first aid. In general, this should be the person who sat in front of or behind the rower who is now in the water. That gives everyone a bit more space.
If there is a jetty nearby, do not try to get the person on board, try to get them to the jetty. Are safety or coaching boats nearby: let the capsized person get on there.