(Learn more about and buy Water Ready, How to Get and Keep Your Rowing Equipment in its Prime.)
How fit is your rowing equipment?
Often rowing equipment will wear out, break, or just become usable. With budgets tight, and equipment getting pushed to the limit it happens more and more. The tough thing is you may not know when that happens to your equipment until it is too late.
That's why we recommend twice-per-season inspections of the equipment-ALL your equipment.
Inspecting the equipment at the beginning AND the end of the season may sound like a lot.
Most coaches are pretty good at checking over hulls and oars. However, it's the little stuff that often gets ignored. Which is too bad because the little stuff can have a BIG impact.
Small things like a strap, a sling, a rack, a seat wheel can easily wear out and when that happens that small thing can:
• Stop a practice
• Destroy a boat
• Lose a race
•Injure an athlete
All those have happened to us, from equipment, small pieces of equipment that should have been replaced or repaired early in the process...but maybe we missed them because we did not do our inspections?
Nothing really fancy to this-inspection is a critical part of keeping rowing equipment in good usable condition. And that is our goal.
Margot has seen many boathouses utilize an efficient system regarding equipment and any damage. For example, they use a designated notepad by the log book (or somewhere central) and ask every rower, coxswain, or coach to note any problems they have experienced or seen. Loose rigger? Wobbly seat wheel? Splintery oar handle? Missing hardware? Wiring erratic? Make a note. Don't let it go, don't wait for the next rower or cox to suffer, too.
Do you have a system to address broken equipment? Is there someone knowledgeable in charge of equipment so it is not an "anything goes" system of inexperienced (or ignored) repair?
Who handles this information? If you don't have such a system or person, set up a system. Train someone, and/or locate/ identify a good repair person. Many items do not require expertise, just knowledge and the right tools and hardware. And sometimes a replacement wheel or seat or part. You might find this next system helpful. '
The Two-Pile System
When Mike first started as a boatman, Joe, an old salt of a boatman, took him under his wing. He showed Mike the power of inspection and to use a two-pile system. Here's how it works.
The GOOD PILE/BAD PILE system
When inspecting equipment, Mike sets up a GOOD PILE and a BAD PILE.
Action 10: The GOOD PILE.
In the GOOD PILE is equipment that's ready to go-it's in good or better shape. Something that can be trusted. The BAD PILE is for things that Piles! Use a 2-pile system to sort out the good equipment from the bad. This may sound a bit simplistic, but often equipment gets into a jumble when we're in a rush.
An example: say it is the end of the season and Mike needs to inspect his boat straps. He will put them in the back of his car and take them away from the boathouse (we'll explain why in a moment). In a calm place, where he can focus, he goes through them one-by-one.
Action 11: Protect GOOD PILE from BAD PILE.
Then Mike does the most important step of all. He does not, repeat DOES NOT take the BAD PILE back to the boathouse-because bad boat straps are the escape artists of rowing equipment. They WILL end up back in your GOOD PILE. Be careful because that happens all the time.
Be proactive on equipment.
A strong system helps avoid mishaps.
The Boathouse Checklist:
Things to consider for boathouse safety, inside and out
Safety in the Boathouse:
☐ First Aid Kits
☐ Safety poster/reminders
☐ Emergency phone contact numbers
☐ Land line phone
☐ Log book (ELECTRONIC OR PAPER)
☐ Book to record all damages/ missing parts
Inside the Boathouse
Look around with a critical eye. Is there any way someone could get hurt here? Trip? Bang into something?
☐ Sharp edges on racks
☐ Slippery, oily floors
☐ Riggers on the floor
☐ Boats in the aisles
☐ Misc. carts, wheels, pontoons, ergs? SPARE PARTS?
☐ Bottles, trash, broken glass
☐ Nails, screws, bolts on the floor.
The Docks and Ramps:
☐ Check for splintering wood or cracks.
☐ Broken wood pieces
☐ Anything slippery- Ice, Bird droppings
☐ Any debris: Trash, Broken glass, Fishing lures, lines and hooks
☐ Your club can be liable if someone accesses your dock and comes to harm. Anyone. Not just members.
☐ Keep unattended children, animals, people OFF your dock.
☐ Make sure there are sturdy fences or barriers and signage about private property.
This is the second chapter of the new book, Water Ready, How to Get and Keep Your Rowing Equipment in its Prime. More than 100 important steps to care for boats, launches, trailers, boathouse, and more. And checklists on critical care - launch, erg, boat, boathouse, tools.