JRC is fortunate to have access to miles of rowable water with a variety of natural life within our rivers. However, just because we CAN row, it does necessarily follow that we always SHOULD. To help make the decision to row or not to row ~ set out below are overall safety requirements and tips:
· The river is to be respected. Do not take unnecessary chances with your life or equipment.
o All JRC sponsored practices must have a safety launch following practice unless specifically excepted by the JRC President or JRC coaches.
o If a row/practice is without a safety launch ~ the buddy system is best.
· Follow the Rules of the River as set forth in JRC Rules and/or Policies and as posted in the Enclosure near the mailbox.
o For the Arlington and Pottsburg have the shore on your left shoulder.
o In the St. Johns heading north towards JU, the northbound traffic should be as close to the eastern shore as safe; while boats returning to JRC should travel to the west of this traffic. From JU aim your boat for the spans on the Matthews Bridge along the east side of Exchange Island.
o In the St. Johns heading west towards downtown, as you leave the Arlington River move to the south shore of the river. Traffic going towards the Hart Bridge should aim for the most southern of the 3 wide spans while boats returning to JRC should aim for the southern end of the wide span with the pilings.
o Plot a course that avoids the inside of turns; especially at low tide. The river is most shallow in these areas.
· Each boat should be equipped with some sort of communication device. It does not need to be fancy; a cell phone in a baggie or a whistle in your kit bag can suffice.
· Long distance rows take you out of the normal traffic pattern for rowing shells. Other boats are not used to watching out for us in these areas of the river, so wear bright and colorful clothing.
· Do NOT row in the shipping channels. Non–motorized craft have special priorities on the river BUT why flirt with large vessels that cannot quickly react to you being in their lanes.
o Be aware of the red and green channel markers buoys on the Arlington River.
o Be aware of the large Manatee signs.
o Be aware of the large metal buoy anchored south of the Matthews Bridge.
· Each end of your boat should have a light; especially if you launch near dusk or dawn.
o If it is foggy and you have trouble seeing the University Blvd bridge; it is not safe to row. If you can’t see the bridge well then motor boats will not be able to see you.
· Rowing into downtown (between the Main Street and Fuller Warren bridges) without a safety launch or buddy is an EXTREMELY dangerous row. The current in the narrow portion of the river is extremely swift; including dangerous vortex currents around the Main Street Bridge pilings.
· Regardless of your experience level, JRC prohibits the use of club equipment beyond the Main Street Bridge without a safety launch. Rowers using their own equipment for such rows MUST BE very experienced rowers and understand that they take these rows AT THEIR OWN RISK.
· The river currents are swiftest at the start of the outgoing tide ~ thus, a zippy row towards JU without current can turn into a slog fest as you turnaround and work your way back to JRC.
· Be aware of weather, both the forecast and what is happening in the skies during your row. During the spring and summer the weather can change drastically and suddenly. Be sure to check the skies for weather happening around you. Often, the most dangerous weather is brewing off your bow.
· Do not row when thunder can be heard before you launch. If you can hear thunder you can be hit by the accompanying lightning.
· If it begins to thunder/lightning during your row, head back to JRC immediately. In lightning conditions consider getting off the river at any area boathouse or rowing to the nearest bridge and staying under it until the storm passes. If the current is strong it will be a constant battle to remain under the bridge span but it is safer than being out in the open.
· Motorized boats may cause wakes but not all motorized boaters are attempting to do so. Many boaters do not know the proper manner of passing a rowing shell. If asked, a good rule of thumb is for the craft to pass at a speed that produces the smallest wake.
o If a motor boat is trying to scare you or cause you to flip; take down their bow number. Even if you really can’t see it, pretending to write it down or take a photo of it will scare the offender away.
o Be courteous to the crab boatmen. They are working for a living while we are sport enthusiasts. Be aware that their business often requires speed induced wakes between crab pots.
· Use the JRC log book. If the worst does happen, it helps search and recovery to know what direction you were heading. Every minute counts in an emergency so help those that are trying to help you.