Safety Policies

Heads Up! The most fundamental safety rule is to be constantly aware of what is going on around you. LOOK AROUND a minimum of once every ten strokes when in an un-coxed boat or if you are a coxswain. In the slough you should look around every 3 strokes. It is easy to get lulled by the rhythmic nature of rowing, but do not let your eyes rest inside the boat. Before you row, look in the card rack and check the class schedule to see what other rowers are out. Keep your eyes open for them when you are on the water. Also be aware that additional rowers may have headed out onto the lake since you left the boathouse.  

Traffic Patterns
Most of Lake Sammamish is unrestricted rowing. However, there are a few areas that have fixed rowing traffic patterns

In Slough

  • Keep land to your starboard side at all times
  • Stay on the paddle at ALL times
  • Northbound traffic (heading back to the dock) has the right or way
  • No passing
  • Look behind you every three strokes in boats without a coxswain 

Water Ski Course

  • Stop to check for skiers before crossing course at the mouth of the lake
  • Do not stop on the course
  • Make all adjustments well outside the course 

On the Lake

  • Stay inside the buoys while heading southbound (being careful of sandbar and swimmers near Idylwood)
  • Stay outside the buoys while heading northbound. The northbound lane of the traffic pattern is 3 boat widths wide.
  • Outside of traffic pattern move to your starboard side to avoid any oncoming traffic regardless of the direction you are travelling
  • Rowers and coxswains should remain within visual contact of a coach while rowing as part of a class.
  • Look behind you every 10 strokes in boats without a coxswain
  • Coaches have the authority to vary the traffic pattern during an individual class if the new pattern is clearly communicated to the rowers and appropriately supervised. Attention must be paid to boats not part of the class that may be using the established traffic pattern during class time. 

At the Dock

  • We are no longer turning around at the dog park. We are now pulling directly in to the dock and spinning the boats on land in front of old boathouse
  • Dock is first come first serve basis Boats that are docking have the right of way over boats that are launching. Boats that are launching should wait until all boats on the water have docked before proceeding to launch. 

Leave a Record
If you are rowing without a coach, you must always put your card on the rack and sign out in the logbook before you leave the boathouse. The principal purpose of the rowing logbook is to alert others to the possibility that you may be in difficulty somewhere. Remember to sign in and put away your card when you return. 


Must contain the following whenever used on the water:

  • 2 flotation seat pads
  • Sealed bag with 9 PFDs (cox + 8 rowers)
  • Paddle and bailer
  • Ladder
  • Megaphone
  • Black Tool Box:
        • Emergency space blankets (9)
        • Fire extinguisher
        • Trauma kit/mini first aid kit
        • Tow rope
        • Flashlight
        • Drowning kit

    *Make sure plug is in transom prior to putting launch into the water. Pull plug once launch is back on trailer.
    *Make sure to take gas out after pulling the launch out of the water.
    *Make sure to close and lock the gas locker at all times

The launches are checked every week by the safety committee. However, it is also your responsibility to check over the launch before putting it into the water. Make sure an experienced person is helping every time a launch is put into the water. Do not put one in if you do not know how to properly launch the launch or if it appears that the launch trailer is broken.  

Individuals should not use the club launches for any reason. Coaches and board members are the only ones permitted to use a launch.

All launches have at least 9 Coast Guard certified lifejackets. If the boat swamps or you flip into the water you will be asked to wear a lifejacket until you are pulled from the water by the safety launch.  

SRA provides non-Coast Guard certified lifejackets for rowers taking out singles, doubles and pairs. Life jackets must be worn if any of the following applies:

  • You are rowing when it is not fully light outside, OR
  • You are rowing alone, OR
  • You are under 18 years of age, OR
  • The water temperature is less than 60F

If none of the above apply you still MUST carry a lifejacket on the water.

To inflate, pull pocket tab down forcefully. If a coach is unaware you have flipped use the whistle in the vest . . . and STAY WITH THE BOAT! The fanny pack type life vests also have a tab to pull and once deployed must be turned around to the front. Fanny packs must be worn and cannot be stowed in the boat.

Flipping or Swamping
If a rower flips out of a Beginning or Intermediate boat you can re-enter it on the water, but you must never attempt to re-enter a Racer 1x on the water; this will cause significant damage to the boat. You must swim these boats to shore as shown in the safety video and re-enter it from there.

If you flip boats on a regular basis, then you are probably rowing in boats that are at too high a level. It is very difficult to improve your rowing skills under these circumstances (not to mention that flipping causes a great deal of wear and tear on a boat). Therefore if you flip two times in two months, you must go down a skill level. After you have rowed for a while at the lower level, you can take another skill checkout and be re-certified for your previous level.

If a four or eight is flipped or swamped you must remove the oars, turn over the boat and wait with the boat until the safety launch arrives. Never try to swim to shore without the boat. If an individual rower flips out of a multi-person boat then the boat should weigh enough, undo an oar and gently push it towards the rower so they can use it as their floatation device. If possible, the rower should climb back into the shell, or re-enter the shell from the launch.

*Always put a note in the comments field of the rowing log when a small boat has been flipped.

Water Hazards
Lake Sammamish is a busy urban lake. You may encounter other shells, canoes, kayaks, motor boats, floating debris, deadheads, and other hazards. Be especially aware of:

    • The waterskiing course. Water-skiers have the right of way on the course. If a ski boat is on the course, wait until it has passed you and is heading east up the course before crossing. 
    • Shoreline hazards. There are numerous docks, floating swim platforms and buoys along the shore.  
    • Buoys/Water monitoring stations. There are many large buoys on Lake Sammamish.  There is also a large floating water monitoring station in the middle of the lake toward Issaquah.     

If any part of the row will be in the dark, attach red/green light to bow and white light to the stern. Safety Committee requires both team rowers and scullers buy their own wearable lights i.e. bicycle lights or headlamps. All boats must have blinking white light in bow and a steady white light in the stern. Boats without these are not allowed to row in the dark. Non‐working lights should be reported on the repair log. In addition rowers must be in high visibility clothing.  

Use common sense and know what you can comfortably handle. Rowing in heavy waves is structurally hard on our boats and requires better than average technique. Rowing is prohibited under the following conditions:

    • Whitecaps. If there are whitecaps on the lake when you come out of the slough, turn around. If whitecaps develop while you are rowing, head for shore and find calm water or a beach. 
    • Thunder and lightning. Never row when there is the possibility of lightening. Do not start a row if you hear thunder; wait at least 30 minutes. If you hear thunder when you are out on the water, immediately head for shore. 
    • Fog. Do not row in fog. If you cannot see at least 100 yards, then you shouldn’t start a row.  
    • Freezing temperatures. Do not row if there is ice at the edges of the water, or ice on the dock, or the potential of ice forming on the dock while rowing.
    • Wakes Large wakes from motorboats (especially wake boarders) can leave you half-swamped. When possible, turn the boat parallel to oncoming wakes to minimize hull stress and water intake. If swamped in a single or double, try bailing with your water bottle. If that doesn’t work, head for shore to empty the boat.  

Safety Review Checkout Meeting
The US Rowing Safety video will be shown to all class members annually. All rowers are required to see this video and to understand and follow the safety procedures established by the United States Rowing Association.  At this time we will also review the SRA specific safety policies. Independent rowers must attend a safety review checkout meeting once a year, where you will see the safety video and review the rules and procedures.  

Ergs and Weights
All members have access to our ergs and weights. Classes do have priority during their scheduled time slot.

      • You must have a partner in order to do any weight lifting
      • Wipe down erg handles before use
      • Report any damage or issues and put a “Do Not Use” sign on broken equipment
      • DO NOT remove ergs from boathouse