Club Safety Instructions

The information below has been produced in order to assist members in maintaining their awareness of the safe practices and policies which they are expected to abide by.

1. Requirements on all Members

No potential or new club member may go afloat in any club boat unless they satisfy the requirements below. All club members are responsible for ensuring that any new or prospective member in their crew has met these requirements:

a. They have received the club’s Safety Induction from a member of the Committee.

b. They can swim at least 50 metres unaided.

c. They are in good health and do not suffer from any medical conditions likely to pose a hazard either to themselves or any other rower or river user.

d. They are wearing suitable clothing for the weather conditions at the time.

2. Clothing & Equipment

a.  CLOTHING. Members should wear close fitting clothing that will not interfere with the blade handles or mechanism of the boat. If in any doubt about the suitability of their kit, members should consult a Committee member.

b.   COLD WEATHER. The risk of hypothermia from wearing insufficient clothing or with inexperienced crews not moving vigorously enough to generate sufficient body heat is a REAL DANGER. Members should wear several thin layers of appropriate clothing, preferably with a waterproof garment on top. Coxswains, especially, should be well protected, with particular care being taken to ensure warmth around the head, neck, lower back and extremities. Clothing should ideally be wind and waterproof but avoid undue bulk. Wellington boots should not be worn.

c.  HOT WEATHER. All rowers and coxswains should take precautions to avoid sunburn (hat, sun cream), as the sun’s effect is doubled due to reflection from the water. Dehydration is also a threat and consideration should be given to ensuring adequate supplies of fluids are available whilst afloat.

d.  BUOYANCY AIDS. Coxswains and coaches in launches must wear life jackets or buoyancy aids at all times whilst afloat.

3. Boats & Blades

Members MUST check the condition of boats and blades before going afloat and MUST NOT BOAT if these items are affected. This applies not only to members using club boats but also those using private boats. The following criteria should be used:

Bow Ball – Securely fitted, no cracks or splits.Heel Restraints – In good condition and not frayed. Heels only come up far enough to allow full loot movement while rowing.Riggers – Check riggers are not loose and are in good condition with gates securely attached and undamaged.Bungs & Corks – Check these are in place and secure.Steering Equipment – Check rudder cables are free and have full movement. Check for frayed cables.Rudders & Fins – Check rudder and fin are not bent. Check free and full movement of rudder.Buoyancy Bags – Check all buoyancy bags are present, not split and adequately inflated.

If any defects cannot be rectified at the time of discovery then the boat is not to be used and the details written on the white board by the boat house entrance, and notified to a committee member as soon as possible. Any such defects in a private boat should be rectified before the boat is used. The committee members will inspect all boats on a weekly basis by rota and a record of such checks will be maintained.

4. Assessment of Crew Competence

a.  NOVICES. Novice members (defined as members new to rowing and/or new to Loch Lomond and does not refer to ARA status) may not take out club boats unless they are accompanied by an experienced member in the boat or by a safety launch.

b.  SCULLERS. Scullers are strongly advised not to go afloat alone, but should be accompanied by at least one other sculler. Members will be rated according to their perceived skill levels and the details are displayed on club noticeboards. The categories are:

Experienced scullers – GREENIntermediate scullers – AMBERInexperienced scullers – RED

Category RED may go afloat only if accompanied by a safety launch. Category AMBER may go afloat only when accompanied by other AMBER or GREEN scullers, but not RED scullers. Category GREEN are unrestricted.

The rating system is maintained by the Committee. All new members are automatically allocated RED category until assessed otherwise by the Committee.

c. COXLESS BOATS – Coxless boats should only be used by experienced members with a steersperson who has been approved as competent by a Committee member. In all other cases they should be accompanied by a safety launch at all times.

d.  CAPSIZE DRILL/RIVER SAFETY – All members should complete capsize drill training and river safety awareness training at the first possible opportunity. Knowledge of the capsize drill is compulsory for all scullers wanting to progress from RED status.

e.  COXSWAINS – Prior to undertaking duties as a coxswain members are to demonstrate their ability to wear a life jacket/buoyancy aid correctly and understand how to get out of a boat in the event of capsize. Members acting as coxswains are to be supervised by an experienced crew member until such time as they are assessed as being competent to undertake the role unsupervised. An assessment of a coxswain’s competency is to be based upon their knowledge of basic boat handling, river navigation and hazard awareness.

5. Assessment of Water Conditions

a.  UNSAFE CONDITIONS. The committee or senior supervising adult shall have the authority to deem boating unsafe due to dangerous wind or stream conditions, low visibility or extreme cold. In this situation, no member shall go afloat.

b. OTHER CONDITIONS. Loch Lomond and the River Leven can be subject to rapidly changing weather conditions even in the summer. From late summer to late spring the flow of water in the river can make boat manoeuvres hazardous, particularly when the weir is lowered. Wind conditions on the Loch can change without warning and can cause extreme difficulty for rowers attempting to return to the river. Rowers should take guidance from experienced members as to whether the conditions are suitable for them to go out and which side of the Loch presents the best lee shore. All rowers are to familiarise themselves with the river navigation hazards, in particular the unusual currents and streams that are evident when water levels are high.

c.  WASHES. Loch Lomond has many users, not all of whom are aware of the effect that their wakes may have. Remember that rowing boats, particularly single sculls, are difficult to see and there is an ever-present danger of a wash causing capsize or at worst a collision occurring. Jet skiers in particular can move at significant speed and change direction rapidly. Rowers must maintain a constant awareness of other water users and be prepared to come off the Loch if at all in doubt about their own safety. When on the water, members should stop rowing for any large washes. Boats should be positioned side on to an incoming wash and the crew should slightly raise the side of the boat nearest to the wash to prevent the boat being swamped.

d.  RIVER USERS. The River Leven has a significant number of moorings and boatyards and the presence and frequent movement of other boats requires particular care to be taken when on the river. Members must adhere to the ‘rule of the road’ when transiting the river and maintain a constant look out for other users. All members are make themselves aware of the navigational aids and hazards on the river. Particular attention should be paid to vessels that may have dragged their moorings and to the movement of the larger cruise boats.

e.  NIGHT TIME ROWING. Rowing at night is discouraged. Any members rowing at night must display a white light visible through 360 degrees at both the stern and the bows.


6. General Procedure to be Followed for all Outings

a. Check the prevailing conditions and determine if it is safe to boat.

b. Check the condition of the boat.

c. Ensure all crew members including the coxswain are correctly dressed.

d. If rowing alone take a mobile telephone in a waterproof enclosure.

e. Ensure your name, boat name and time of departure are logged on the whiteboard. Erase these details on return.

f. On return wash down the boat and ensure any defects are rectified or reported.


7. Coaching & Use of the Launch

a. No member may use the launch unless they have been fully instructed in its use and have the permission of a Committee member.

b. Every person using a launch shall wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid at all times whilst afloat.

c. Users are to ensure that the following equipment is within the launch before leaving the boathouse:

  • A bailer, inflation pump and a spare inflation valve.                    
  • A sound signalling warning device, capable of attracting attention over at least 200 metres.                    
  • A throwing line.                    
  • Thermal/exposure blankets.                    
  • A basic first aid kit.                    
  • A sharp knife in carrying sheath.                    
  • Two paddles.                    
  • An engine cut-out lanyard devices which must be fixed to the driver on entering the launch.                   
  •  A fully charged mobile phone with emergency numbers pre-programmed. 

8. Reporting of Incidents

Any incidents or accidents must be recorded in the Incident Book kept in the boathouse. Any injuries requiring medical treatment must be reported to a Committee member immediately. All damage must be reported to a Committee member.

9. Use of Gym Equipment & Ergs

The gym equipment and ergometers are only to be used by members who have been instructed in their safe use. The gym equipment in particular can cause serious injury if misused and it is not to be used by any persons under the age of 16.

10. Emergency Action Plan

a.  WATER EMERGENCIES. Crews having swamped or capsized should remain with their craft whenever possible. Do not attempt to swim to shore, unless not to do so would give rise to extreme danger. Coaches accompanying crews in a launch should inform the Police/Coastguard if assistance is required. Carry out the capsize drill making every effort to reduce avoid the onset of hypothermia.

b.  BOATHOUSE EMERGENCY. In the event of fire raise a vocal alarm and all persons must leave the building by the nearest exit. Contact the emergency services by dialling 999. If safe to do so use the telephone situated in the entrance lobby. In the event of personal injury a first aid kit is available in the boathouse office.


Water Safety

The club fully supports and implements the Scottish Rowing Water Safety Code. Whilst the Club has a responsibility to ensure that its members’ safety is safeguarded wherever possible, the Committee reminds members that there is a responsibility for each individual to be familiar with and uphold the Water Safety Code at all times.

Every club member must assist in improving safety practice by adhering to these safety instructions.

ALL members should directly challenge any member or water user who is seen to be non-compliant with the Code or the Club Safety Instructions.

Fire & General Safety

All activities undertaken within the boathouse are to be the subject of appropriate Risk Assessments with control measures put in place as appropriate to reduce the safety risk to all persons entering and using the building. The boathouse is to be subject to a Fire Safety Risk Assessment and this is to be reviewed on an annual basis.

Members are advised that the Committee will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against any members who act in an irresponsible or unsafe manner on the water (whether in club boats or their own) or who fail to comply with the Club’s safety policies or instructions.

Copies of the Club Safety Instructions will be made available on the Club website and in hard copy in the Clubhouse. All members are required to be familiar with these instructions. Any comments or queries about their content should be referred to the Club Safety Officer.