Just the other day I was out biking and heard peepers – spring can’t be far behind! When the weather warms up, will you be ready to get back on the water?
Many clubs have safety guidelines, such as the four-oar rule, i.e. times when only boats with four oars can be on the water; or a 90 or 100 degree temperature rule, i.e. when the combination of the air and water temperature add up to 90 or 100. Once those parameters are met and a sunny, calm day arises, you want to be ready to take advantage of those conditions. Use the time now to prepare.
Give your single a thorough going-over. Tighten all the attachments – obviously the riggers but also the oarlocks and foot stretchers. Take a good look at the hull, checking for any dings or puncture marks. Check the skeg and the area around it to be sure it is well attached and not leaking. Clean the tracks and the wheels on the seat. Check the pitch on the oarlocks as well as the height.
No one expects any changes or damage to occur while the boat has been racked since the fall but accidents can happen and you don’t want to be on the water, five miles from the boathouse, when you notice something wrong.
While the air may be warm, chances are the water is significantly cooler. Be smart and don’t row alone. Go over the safety procedures for your boathouse and body of water. Will you know what to do if you flip? Now is a good time to review a “how to get back in the boat” video and think specifically about how you’ll react if you flip. Refamiliarize yourself with any obstacles in the water and find out if there are any new ones. If your lake or river has flooded, chances are a new stump has lodged itself somewhere.
Be prepared with lights on the boat if you’re rowing in the dark. Wear high-vis clothes. Check the weather forecast before you go out. Carry a whistle and phone in a waterproof pack and attach both to the boat. Wear a life vest that can be inflated with a CO2 cartridge or one that inflates automatically when it gets wet. Row with a buddy and let others know you’re out on the water and when to expect you back.
Each spring, my first time back in the single is a little uncomfortable. It’s easy to forget the feel of balance, of rowing with two oars vs an erg handle, so start slow. Try half slide rowing before lengthening out to full. Keep your blades on the water and focus on level hands and horizontal body movement (maybe put a link to our last article here?). It will all come back to you but don’t rush it. Be prepared, be safe and have fun!