Row safe - a guide to rowing safely - video transcript

Brad Dudley, Boating Safety Officer: Rowing's a sport that demands fitness and coordination. It's rich in history and it's also a great way to experience our magnificent waterways.

Narrator: But like all other vessels on the water, the crew of a rowing craft must observe some fundamental rules for safe navigation. The International Rules for Preventing Collisions at Sea are our rules of the road. And anyone involved in rowing must observe them. Every vessel must have a proper look-out. Using sight and sound each person on a boat needs to be fully aware of their boating environment and any risk of collision. The most important points are: - Keep to the right

Coach: Stay right over.

Narrator: And keep a good look-out.

[Caption: Row safe: A team effort]

Narrator: While it’s up to everyone to know what’s going on, the cox and the rowing coach need to be particularly alert. This means taking the time to check out not only the course but also the surrounding waterway. Onboard, the most important role of the cox is to ensure the safety of the crew at all times. Whether the boat is bow or stern-coxed, the cox must maintain a proper look out. And it’s the cox's job to ensure that the crew is on the right side of the river at all times and not to cut the corners. The coach is also responsible for crew safety and is the additional eyes and ears for both coxed and coxless crews. Like the cox, a coach needs to keep their crews on the right part of the river. They also need to ensure crews are not rowing side by side right across the river.

[Caption: Row safe: Minimising risk]

Brad Dudley: If all this seems academic, just remember this: collisions do occur and it’s not pretty seeing yours or someone else’s boat get smashed up. Worse is the potential loss of life or permanent injury. Rowers need to take every measure possible in every situation to ensure there is no risk of collision happening. And a lot of this is about where you position your boat. Stay as far as is possible to the outer starboard limit of a channel or fairway, especially if it's narrow. This is especially important when rounding tight bends or pinch points where the channel suddenly narrows. And remember to keep a safe distance from moored vessels while keeping to the right.

[Caption: Respect locals and minimise noise.]

Narrator: Finally, coach boats should stick to the rear and keep a proper look-out for all vessels in their squad.

[Caption: Row safe: Know your route.]

Narrator: Take time to know the local waterway. Study a boating map and talk to people on the waterfront. And familiarise yourself with any pinch points in your local area. With any wharf that has regular ferry traffic, always keep well clear and take extra care near any commercial wharves where larger vessels such as ferries or charter boats may operate. And do not cross in front of vessel pulling off or coming along side wharves. Above all, do not attempt to cross in front of a moving ferry. Keep well clear of ferries. The wash from these craft has the potential to capsize and or swamp rowing craft.

[Caption: Row safe: Lights on]

Narrator: Being seen is perhaps one of the most important safety measures when rowing at dawn and dusk.

Aaron Brown, Ferrymaster: Well, the attitude of Sydney Ferries, foremost, is safety. As far as the masters on the river and the Sydney Harbour ferries are concerned there's the safety for rowers and all recreational craft and all craft on the river. The most important thing we see is lighting. If a craft is well lit up and a rower is well lit up especially first thing in the morning. It makes a big difference visually so we can spot them earlier and take evasive action or prevent a collision of any form. Again, that coach boat which is just on the inside of those rowers is well lit up. That isn't always the case and sometimes it's not just the rowers but the coach boats are very difficult to see. As a master of Harbour City Ferries, and Harbour City Ferries Management over the last few years have been putting a lot of time and effort into building relationships with Sydney rowing, NSW rowing, the rowing clubs, private schools, all schools involved, in conjunction with Maritime, we've been spending a lot of time in building these relationships so we can all work together on the river in a safe and efficient manner.

Brad Dudley: Finally, ensure your boat carries at least one white light visible from any direction. Or two separate lights: one on the bow and one on the stern. This will comply with the code of conduct. The newer LED lights have incredible visibility and stand out far more than traditional lights.

[Caption: Row safe: Have fun]

Brad Dudley: For rowers, the essential rules are: Being seen; Keeping a proper lookout and keeping to the right. Remember, the waterways are out there to be enjoyed by everyone and that means operating your craft in a safe and responsible manner.

End of transcript.