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Safety

Rowers launching from Pettipaug are responsible for their own safety! Evaluate the River conditions and your own physical condition each time you launch and during your row.

SafeSport Policy at Pettipaug Yacht Club Rowing (PDF)

Factors to consider:

    1. Normally we row unescorted, without the protection of coaches and launches. The Connecticut River is large and if you row alone and an issue arises (boat malfunction, medical problem, collision), you may need to deal with it yourself.
    2. The water can be extremely cold in the spring. To get a sense of this, kneel on the dock and plunge your forearm in the water for 30 seconds. Hypothermia can also be an issue after even when the water is warmer if immersion is long. A pool thermometer for checking the water temperature is kept in the PYCR locker (lower right next to the Commodore Room door, combination 767).
    3. The spring snowmelt and later rainstorms can release lots of debris into the River, some of which may be nearly submerged and therefore difficult to see. Hitting it can damage your boat so that it is unrowable and/or no longer floats, or even flip it.
    4. Power boats, especially bass boats and jet skis, routinely speed. A collision would be very serious - for you. It is essential that you watch and listen for them, and move out of their path. Do not rely on them seeing you.
    5. Weather: check the forecast before leaving home. Particular concerns include wind, fog, and lightning. Rowing in heavy fog, especially crossing the river in fog, is not recommended: you may know exactly where you are, but power boats tend to go too fast in fog and may run you down. Also, fog can change with time and location on the river.

PFD's (Personal Flotation Devices):
Connecticut law requires that you WEAR an inflatable PFD between Oct. 1 and May 31 (See CT Boater's Guide, p18-19). The Mustang Belt Pack inflatable PFD can be worn while rowing with the pack spun around to the small of the back (See Landfall Navigation).

A PFD offers flotation should you need it. For example, if (a) you are partly incapacitated due to injury or sudden illness, or (b) your boat is damaged and you are stuck in hypothermic water. Its additional flotation reduces the need to tread water and so decreases your rate of heat loss in hypothermic water, which lengthens your survival time. Obviously you can leave it uninflated if its bulk when inflated would be a hindrance.

It is wise to carry a PFD in your boat during the summer months.

More on Cold Water:
Cold water is very dangerous yet appears harmless. Just the shock from falling in can kill you in several different ways even before hypothermia sets in:

To reduce risk when the water is cold:

  • Row in a 2x, which is less likely to flip than a 1x
  • If you do row in a 1x, row with a "buddy" for safety (a good idea even during the warm months)
  • Stay near the more populated west shore, avoid the middle of the river or the east shore

If you flip in cold water, the Blockley Cold Water Survival document recommends that you turn the boat upside down, leave the oars in place, slither your body onto the overturned hull while you are still able to do so, and paddle it to the shore. You will lose far less body heat to the air than you would if you stayed in the water. If you try to get back into the boat and fail you may exhaust yourself to the point that you can no longer get on top of the hull.

Here is a useful video about dealing with a flip:

Cell phones:
Bringing a cell phone enables you to dial 911 and get help more quickly. Waterproof, floating, speak-through cases are available at www.aquapac.net or for the iPhone.

Traffic pattern:
Going upstream follow the shore (either the east or the west shore), returning downstream stay far enough offshore to allow a shell to pass easily between you and the shore.

 

For further information contact the PYCR Captain Tom Sanford at 860-535-3399 or t-sanford@sbcglobal.net.