September Safety Feature
September 05, 2012
Launch Maintenance and Safety Equipment
We often ignore the caretaking of the launch in the off-months. Now is the time to tend to your important safety and coaching tool. Don’t wait until the pressures of the season trick you into ignoring your launch.
Coaching launches take a beating; the hulls and motors get used at a rate well beyond the average and expected usage. We run into rocks, it gets battered against the docks, etc. Get ready for the new season before all the commotion of a new season pushes the launches (and you) back on the water. Make sure you do the maintenance and check the launch’s safety equipment.
If you take your motor in for a tune up (which is a good thing to do) the following will be done for you, but if not, the minimal maintenance is;
- Change the gear oil in the lower end and change the spark plugs.
- In the 4-stroke engines, change the motor oil.
Changing the gear oil requires the engine to be out of the water, but all of these tasks are not too hard to do. They can be done in a couple hours or even less if you have all the equipment and supplies ready to go. If your engine has a battery, it’s a good idea to put the battery on a trickle charger for a little while. Hulls
Depending on the extent and number of repairs a hull needs, it’s a lot easier to do this in the dry boat bay than on the water. Now is a good time to scrub the hull. (The end of last season would have been better. Remember that next year!) Getting the gunk and growth off the hull now will make the launch faster and save fuel. Those barnacles will slow you down.
If those tasks are impossible, the least you can do is check the navigation lights and all lines, and dispose of the coffee cups, single socks, dirt and fuel residue on the inside of the hull. Safety Equipment
Check all of your safety equipment and start with YOUR personal flotation device, whether it’s a life vest, Mustang suit or a float coat, to make sure that it is still in good shape. Yes, we strongly recommend that everyone in the launch wear a flotation device. Especially the coach.
Your communication device, be it a cell phone or radio, needs to have its own waterproof protection ready.
Get your anchor and line neatly stowed, and tuck the paddle out of the way. (You do have an anchor in the launch, right?)
The rest of your safety equipment, like the items in the USRowing Kippy Liddle Safety Kit (life vests, first aid supplies, air horn, emergency blankets, throw bag and flashlight) should be checked to make sure they are dry and in good shape. Are the batteries fresh in any device that needs them (like the flashlight or megaphone)?
ALL the items taken from the first aid kit last season or weather-damaged supplies should be replaced. Be sure you have enough PFDs in the launch for all rowers and coxswains. Often, they are borrowed for another launch. Count them.
Make sure the PFDs are not cracked or torn.
Check your tie lines, are the ropes frayed? Are your registration numbers easy to read and clear?
One last thing you can do if you are not sure about the state and USCG safety regulations is get a free safety examination. Ask a Vessel Examiner from The United States Power Squadrons, or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to perform a yearly Vessel Safety Check (VSC) on your launches. This link has more information on the VSC program: http://www.safetyseal.net/. Organizations can find a local Vessel Examiner by selecting the "I want a VSC" button on this site.
Start the new season SAFELY. Have all your equipment ready.
Willie Black and the USRowing Safety Committee;
Margot Zalkind, Chair, NE
Casey Baker, SE
Jim Cooper, NE
Matt Lacey, NW
Rachel Lemieux, NW
John White, MA
PS. What would you like to read about?
Let us know - firstname.lastname@example.org Resources
USRowing has some good info available for you about safety:
The Foundation for Rowing Education has just published Safe Launch Driving Manual for Rowing, which is a great addition to every boathouse. www.rowingeducation.org
USRowing Safety page
Lots of good information.
The USRowing Safety DVD is available for $20
http://www.usrowing.org/DomesticRowing/Coaches/CoachingVideosDVD.aspx Make sure all your coaches and rowers watch it every season.
The Kippy Liddle Kit is available from USRowing
(Is there a kit for every coach?)
The Safety Poster is FREE from USRowing. Contact member services at 1 800 314 4769 or email@example.com
(Make sure it is up at your boathouse.)