Safety Policies

Head’s Up!
The most fundamental safety rule is to be constantly aware of what is going on around you. LOOK AROUND at least 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 be always aware of your surroundings for hazards or dangers.

Before you row, look in the card rack to see what other rowers/classes 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:

  • The Dock: Northbound boats must always row past the dock, turn around and then row into the dock. Stay in order – do not cut ahead unless you get explicit permission from all the boats in front of you. If the dock is full, stay out beyond the dock with at least 10 feet between boats.
  • The Slough: The slough area is between the dock and the waterskiing course. Be extremely vigilant when rowing in the slough – it can get lots of traffic and is very narrow in the summer when lily pads line both sides.You row on the paddle at all times when in the slough.Do not overtake other boats unless you get their explicit permission.Stay to the starboard side of the slough when you encounter boats going in the opposite direction.

    Northbound traffic has precedence over southbound traffic – southbound traffic should move to the side and let northbound traffic pass if there isn’t room for both boats.

  • West side of lake, between the ski course and the Point. Southbound boats should stay inside the buoys; northbound boats should stay outside the buoys. The northbound lane of the traffic pattern is 3 boat widths wide.Boats that are outside the traffic pattern must row down the middle of the lake, staying well clear of the traffic pattern.

All launches should have the following items: Life Jackets, toe line, fire extinguisher, paddle, gas can, megaphone, kill switch, working radio, blanket, first aid kit and tool box.

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 deploy the launch or if it appears that the launch trailer is broken.

Individuals should not use 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 scullers rowing singles and doubles. Any member going out in a single without another rower or coach, regardless of temperature or daylight, must wear a life vest (preferably a fanny pack style if available or the chest style). For members rowing with other singles or in a double, without a coach, must carry a lifejacket in the boat and do not need to wear it unless needed.

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.

Personal Flotation Devices or life preservers
You may use your own personal floatation device in place of a life vest provided by the club.  Before spending any  money on a personal floatation device, ensure you know which units are acceptable.  The Executive Director will approve your floatation device after you demonstrate sound knowledge of the unit, its operation, its maintenance requirements, and its limitations.

Flipping or Swamping
If a sculler flips out of a Beginning or Intermediate boat you can re-enter it on the water, but you must never attempt to re-enter an Advanced or Racer on the water on your own; this will cause significant damage to the boat. If a coach is on the water and you can get their attention, you may use their launch to get back into the boat.  First climb into the launch, then with control of the both oars, climb into the rowing shell from the launch. If no coach is on the water, 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 sculling 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. Please inform the Director or Sculling Coach if this occurs. After you have rowed for a minimum of three months at the lower level, you may take another sculling skill test to for re-certification back to the 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 “way enough,” undo an oar and gently push it towards the rower so they can use it as their floatation devise. 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 sculling boat has been flipped.

Water Hazards
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.
    Water monitoring stations: There is a large floating water monitoring station in the middle of the lake off “The Point”. There is another station in the South end of the lake.
  • Darkness: Always use lights when rowing in the dark. Club lights are stored next to the whiteboard by the large bay door. You must have a bow and stern light in all boats. All scullers must provide their own lights for the boats. The bow must have a red and green running light and the stern a white light.
  • Weather: 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 50 yards, then you shouldn’t start a row.
Freezing temperatures: Do not row alone if there is snow on the ground or ice at the edges of the water..

  • Wakes: Large wakes from motorboats (especially wake boarders) can easily swamp the boat. 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.

Review Checkout Meeting
The USRowing Safety video will be shown to all classes at the start of each season. 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 rules established in this handbook.

Independent scullers must attend a safety review checkout meeting once a year, where you will see the safety video and review the rules and procedures.