Canal Dock Safety Manual

Canal Dock Safety Manual (view PDF here)


The policies and procedures that follow are subject to annual review by the club’s board and its safety committee. For an up-to-date copy, please approach any safety committee member.

1. River Safety and Rules of the River/Harbor
The following rules are written for Scullers and Coxswains, however, it is important for all rowers to understand navigation. It is important to pay attention to the Coxswains’ commands at all times. Be aware of everything around you at all times; don’t assume anything; leave nothing to doubt. Be careful.

  1. All boats pass to port, move as far to starboard as possible to allow safe passing. Keep out of the middle of the river or channel.
  2. Slower traffic must yield to starboard to allow faster traffic through.
  3. Shells turning must check in all directions for traffic.
  4. Communicate – if you see your own craft or another not where it should be,communicate the contravention to coxswain or oncoming craft.
  5. When rowing with other boats, always make steering allowances for yourcompanions. Don’t cut them off.
  6. Always keep an eye out for buoys, floating debris and motorboats. At least everyten strokes look to see what’s in front of you. If a large wake is approaching, turn your shell parallel to the wake and keep your oars flat on the water. Ride out the wake.
  7. If you hit something, hold onto your oars. They are your best means of floatation.
  8. Beginners should not row out of the protection of the harbor into the long islandsound.

a. Quinnipiac and New Haven-specific:

  1. Pass through middle arches under the Grand Avenue Bridge. Beware of illegal fishing lines here, and of fishing lines from the western side of the river park, from pier on the corner of Criscuolo Park, and from Route 1 bridge pier (summer months).
  2. Beware of craft with limited visibility passing under any of the bridges – do not stop craft underneath bridges.
  3. Unless in a kayak or canoe, go no further north on the Quinnipiac River than the I-91 bridge.
  4. Beware changing width of rowable river when tide is low.
  5. Summer months: be careful/alert for jetskis not obeying the no-wakerequirements of the Quinnipiac River.
  6. North of Grand Avenue Bridge, use the middle of the river for turningaround and to allow for boats launching from marinas. Give adequate clearance to the two marinas (west side of river, north of Grand) and Bloom Brothers Oystery dock (east side of river, between Ferry St and Grand).
  7. Oyster/lobster/conch boats typically launch at 7am and return at 4.30- 5pm.

i. CT-specific:

  1. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has established regulations for life jackets, as described below:
  2. PFDs are required for all rowers at all times except when a dedicated launch is with the boat. The dedicated launch must carry enough PFDs for all rowers, coxswain and launch occupants. All the PFDs in that circumstance must be out/in an open container and available for immediate use in an emergency. Bungeed in a container does not meet the criteria of “available for immediate use.”
  3. The waistband inflatable Type V PFDs do not qualify as a PFD unless they are actually being worn.
  4. Orange buoyant PFDs can be carried in the boat and do not have to be worn.
  5. Having and wearing a PFD is an individual sculler’s responsibility.

2. Rower classification

  1. Only class “A” rowers are allowed to row: in the dark, and in non-summer months (when water temp reliably under 50 degrees).
  2. When rowing in the dark (within 1/2 hour of sunrise/sunset), wear bright clothing and use both bow and stern lights.
  3. Certification:

i. Captain or Coach will assess any new members and classify sweep rowers, otherwise the following applies for rowing progression from “C” (novice/new) to “A” (expert, accomplished and safety-proven rower) for scullers:

a. To advance out of novice or learning shells (“C”, must scull a minimum of 200 miles and pass a rowing test administered by a captain or coach. Requirements: good rowing form, row square blade for 30 strokes, accomplished river turns, emergency stop without flipping, good launching/docking practice, ad-hoc oral quiz on safety restrictions

b. To advance to “A”, simply build a long enough record of responsibility, a lack of incidents or accidents as a “B” rower: 1000 miles without an accident or issue found to be caused by rower.

3. Wind and Water Temperature – SEE FOR EXAMPLE: 31/November_Safety_Feature_Winter_Wisdom.aspx

4. Dock and launching

  1. Getting into the boati. Sculling
    1. Make sure both sculls are flat and extended all the way through the oarlocks as far as the buttons will allow. Position the grips aft of the tracks over the boot stretchers, holding both grips with riverside hand.
    2. Place your riverside foot on the footpad between the tracks at stern end. Hold the dockside rigger with your dockside hand. While holding both sculls with your riverside hand and the rigger with your dockside hand, stand in the shell and then gently lower yourself onto the seat. Place no weight on the splashboards.

    ii. Sweeps

    1. Always wait for instructions from the Coxswain. Shells are always launched downstream. You will be guided to extend portside oars out before entering the boat.
    2. Place your riverside foot on the footpad between the tracks at stern end. Hold the dockside rigger with your dockside hand. While holding the oar handle with your riverside hand and the rigger with your dockside hand, stand in the shell and then gently lower yourself onto the seat. Place no weight on the splashboards.
  2. Docking/Getting out of boat
    1. Sculling: Approach the dock against the tide and/or wind, whichever is stronger. Take care not to hit the dock. Once you’ve landed, get out of the shell. Put your riverside foot on the footpad at the stern end of the tracks, hold both oars with your riverside hand, hold the dockside rigger with your other hand and pull up with you arms as you push with your riverside leg to stand in the shell. Do not put your feet onto any other part of the boat. Steady yourself by holding onto the rigger, not the washboards. Once you are up, you may safely step out with your dockside foot first. Do not step on the boot stretchers.
    2. Sweep Boats: Coxswains should always approach the dock facing down river. Approach the dock slowly and with only the oars overlapping the dock. Do not allow the rigger to overlap the dock. Wait until someone on the dock can stop the boat and pull you close to the dock. Instruct all rowers to lean away from the dock.
    3. Do not leave craft unattended at dock
  1. Launch rules
    1. Powered boats should control their wake around all self-powered craft, regardless of location.
    2. Quinnipiac River (past Criscuolo Park) should be considered a minimal wake zone (< 10mph) owing to the width of river at certain locations. Note that the river park with boundary walls will create reverberating wake for craft in that section.
    3. Emergency bag required at all times: life vests, rope, and first aid kit.
    4. Paddle required at all times.
  2. Coaching safety requirements

a. Must carry a cell-phone at all time with the following numbers and information:

i. Emergency numbers: 911, CDBI rowing address: Quinnipiac River Marina, 309 Front St, New Haven, CT, 06513. Director of Rowing Operations: John Pescatore 203-464-5938

b. In case of accident:

  1. Instruct rowers to stay with shell.
  2. Call 911, indicate position and cross street(s) if applicable.
  3. Count down rowers and coxswain.
  4. Get rowers to safety.

As with the rowers in the water, you must not panic! While your adrenaline will flow and your nerves may become frayed, you must maintain control. Your actions and decisions may save a life. You must get to the rower(s) in the water as quickly as possible, but with safety as your top concern. If the water is choppy, the tide is moving quickly or the wind is blowing, proceed with extra caution. Approach the shell from downwind. You must shut down the motor a few feet away from the rowers even in calm conditions. Your final approach must be made with a paddle. If the conditions are rough, you may have to circle around the rowers to find the easiest and safest way in. As you approach the rowers, distribute life jackets and find out if anyone is injured. If any one is, they must be your top priority. You should not, however, get out of the launch. Once you leave the launch, it may drift away or be too difficult to get back in. Getting in the water yourself only adds another at-risk person. If possible, let the rowers climb into the launch. Carefully attempt to pull them in. You may have to remain on the far side of the launch to keep it from tipping. When the rowers do get in, have them sit on the bottom, not the seats. The launch will be more stable that way. Proceed to the closest shore. Warn rowers of stepping lightly on the bottom to avoid stepping on sharp objects. Keep the lower unit of the motor clear of the mud and rocks. If you cannot take all of the rowers in the water in one trip, leave those most comfortable with the shell, and pick them up on a second trip. Throw out lifejackets and have the rowers put them on. Your most important job is to keep the launch upright and functioning. Taking too many rowers at once may result in the launch capsizing. Only when all rowers are safely ashore should you worry about the equipment.

7. Reporting requirements

  1. Sign out
    1. Remember to check bow balls and heel restraints before launching
    2. Rigging is not allowed to be adjusted by athletes – approach a member ofthe boat committee or speak to your coach.
  2. Sign in – noting any incidents

i. All boats must be cleaned with soap and fresh water, inside and out, before returning to the racks. Any damage must be noted in logbook.

c. Damage to Equipment

  1. If adult rowers: those rowing when the damage occurs must take full responsibility for the repair, regardless of the cause of the accident. The rower may not row until the repair and transportation is arranged and the captain or lieutenant confirms this is so in writing. The rower must pay the deductible and the transportation costs.
  2. Non-members in classes are also responsible for any damage. Class members will sign a form to signify agreement to this policy before taking a class. If the rowing director does not want to do this, the fees should include costs to cover deductibles.

d. Repeat offenders shall be subject to demotion.

  1. Athlete requirements
    1. Safety Education – all athletes are required to watch the latest US Rowing safety video after joining the club and before rowing on the water for the first time.
    2. Swimming requirements – Anyone rowing must be a capable swimmer
  2. Emergency procedures – On WaterFor scullers without coaches: when you capsize, the heel restraints in your shell should allow you to release your feet. Your shoelaces or Velcro fastener should not be so tight that you cannot slip your feet out easily. If they don’t release, push on the backs of the shoes with your hands to free them. If you capsize anywhere but right next to the shore, get back into or onto your boat as soon as possible! Do not leave the boat to try to swim to shore—the cold water can kill you.
    1. Get the boat upright and get control of your oars. Roll the seat to the bow end of the tracks.
    2. While holding the handles of both oars in your stern hand, with blades flat on the surface for stability, put your other hand between the tracks where you would normally step. Push up and onto the tracks where you would normally step. Struggle and squirm to get your abdomen across the tracks. Next try to roll onto your posterior and sit upright. Keep control of your oars.
  1. Swing your feet into the cockpit then place your strongest foot between the tracks so that you can raise yourself enough to slide the seat back under you. This is not easy to do. It’s awkward, clumsy and can easily damage a racing shell so we don’t recommend it except in a real emergency or if you are using one of the training singles which are more ruggedly constructed.
  2. If your boat is unrowable (a broken rigger for example) and the water is cold, you can paddle the shell like a surfboard. As you swim or paddle against the current, keep the shell pointed slightly toward the near shore.
  3. Return to the boathouse immediately to get warm and dry.

The very first, and most important, rule is to keep calm. No matter how you ended up in the water, no matter how cold or rough the conditions, panicking will only make it worse. You must think and be aware of others in the water – someone may be injured and need help.

For Sweep:

  1. The cox should take charge if the coach is not nearby. Count down from bow to ascertain whether everyone is present.
  2. Your oars and your boat, even if capsized or in pieces, float. As soon as you have hold of something that floats, stay with it. If necessary, swim with your boat or oar to shore – NEVER attempt to swim on your own. Almost every rowing fatality that has occurred was the result of someone trying to swim to shore. You are safest with your equipment. You may have been hurt when you entered the water; you may not realize the strength of the tide or current; or you may not realize the effect the water temperature may have on your strength.
  3. If possible, call for help. Wave your arms. Yell. Swing a piece of clothing over your head.
  4. Your coach will be in a launch and should approach you as quickly as possible. You should be aware, however, that the launch cannot come to you too fast – the motor must be shut down on approach to a rower or rowers in the water, and the coach must paddle in the last few yards. This is for your safety.
  5. The coach will provide a life jacket for you. If the water is cold, you must try to keep your head and chest as far out of the water as possible by climbing onto the shell.


a. See Appendix A from the from the USOC Safe Sport Initiative 2. Disciplinary procedures

a. Any athlete or coach found violating procedures will have their case reviewed at the next board meeting. Penalties may include temporary suspension of rowing privileges, demotion, and termination of membership or employment.

3. Use of facilities

  1. No smoking policy
  2. Pets are not allowed in the boathouse or on the dock
  3. All children under the age of 16 must be under the supervision of an adult at alltimes

4. Waivers

a. All athletes required to sign a waiver before erging or rowing – see Appendix B

Appendix A: Athlete Protection



In the event that any coach or member observes inappropriate behaviors (i.e., policy violations), suspected physical or sexual abuse, or misconduct, it is the personal responsibility of each coach or member to immediately report his or her observations to an immediate supervisor or board member.

This rowing club is committed to creating a safe and positive environment for athletes’ physical, emotional and social development and to ensuring that it promotes an environment free of misconduct.

Coaches and members should not attempt to evaluate the credibility or validity of child physical or sexual abuse allegations as a condition for reporting to appropriate law enforcement authorities. Instead, it is the responsibility of each coach and member to immediately report suspicions or allegations of physical or sexual abuse to an immediate supervisor or board member.

The rowing club recognizes that the process for training and motivating athletes will vary with each coach and athlete, but it is nevertheless important for everyone involved in sport to support the use of motivational and training methods that avoid misconduct.


This Policy applies to:
• athletes and coaches

Coaches and members shall refrain from all forms of misconduct, which include:

  • Bullying
  • Harassment
  • Hazing
  • Emotional misconduct
  • Physical misconduct
  • Sexual misconduct

PROHIBITED CONDUCT Emotional Misconduct

(1) A pattern of deliberate, non-contact behavior that has the potential to cause emotional or psychological harm to an athlete. Non-contact behaviors include:

  1. verbal acts
  2. physical acts
  3. acts that deny attention or support

(2) Any act or conduct described as emotional abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g. child abuse, child neglect).


Emotional misconduct does not include professionally-accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, discipline or improving athletic performance.


Examples of emotional misconduct prohibited by this policy include, without limitation:

(1) Verbal Acts. A pattern of verbal behaviors that (a) attack an athlete personally (e.g., calling them worthless, fat or disgusting) or (b) repeatedly and excessively yelling at a particular participant or participants in a manner that serves no productive training or motivational purpose.

(2) Physical Acts. A pattern of physically aggressive behaviors, such as (a) throwing sport equipment, water bottles or chairs at, or in the presence of, participants; or (b) punching walls, windows or other objects.

(3) Acts that Deny Attention and Support. A pattern of (a) ignoring an athlete for extended periods of time or (b) routinely or arbitrarily excluding participants from practice.

Note: Bullying, harassment, and hazing, defined below, often involve some form of emotional misconduct.

Physical Misconduct

(1) Contact or non-contact conduct that results in, or reasonably threaten to, cause physical harm to an athlete or other sport participants; or

(2) Any act or conduct described as physical abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g. child abuse, child neglect, assault).


Physical misconduct does not include professionally accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, appropriate discipline or improving athlete performance. For example, hitting, punching, and kicking are well- regulated forms of contact in combat sports, but have no place in swimming.


Examples of physical misconduct prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation:

(1) Contact offenses. Behaviors that include:

(a) punching, beating, biting, striking, choking or slapping an athlete;

(b) intentionally hitting an athlete with objects or sporting equipment;

(c) providing alcohol to an athlete under the legal drinking age (under U.S. law);

(d) providing illegal drugs or non-prescribed medications to any athlete;

(e) encouraging or permitting an athlete to return to play pre-maturely following a serious injury (e.g., a concussion) and without the clearance of a medical professional;

(f) prescribing dieting or other weight-control methods (e.g., weigh-ins, caliper tests) without regard for the nutritional well-being and health of athlete.

(2) Non-contact offenses. Behaviors that include:
(a) isolating an athlete in a confined space (e.g., locking an athlete in a small

(b) forcing an athlete to assume a painful stance or position for no athletic purpose (e.g. requiring an athlete to kneel on a harmful surface);
(c) withholding, recommending against or denying adequate hydration, nutrition, medical attention or sleep.

Note: Bullying, harassment and hazing, defined below, often involve some form of physical misconduct.

Sexual Misconduct

  1. (1)  Any touching or non-touching sexual interaction that is (a) nonconsensual or forced, (b) coerced or manipulated, or (c) perpetrated in an aggressive, harassing, exploitative or threatening manner;
  2. (2)  Any sexual interaction between an athlete and an individual with evaluative, direct or indirect authority. Such relationships involve an imbalance of power and are likely to impair judgment or be exploitative; or

(3) Any act or conduct described as sexual abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g. sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, rape)

Note: An imbalance of power is always assumed between a coach and an athlete.

Types of Sexual Misconduct

Types of sexual misconduct include: (1) sexual assault,
(2) sexual harassment,
(3) sexual abuse, or

(4) any other sexual intimacies that exploit an athlete.




Examples of sexual misconduct prohibited under this Policy include, without limitation:

(1) Touching offenses. Behaviors that include:

  1. (a)  fondling an athlete’s breasts or buttocks
  2. (b)  exchange of reward in sport (e.g., team placement, scores, feedback) forsexual favors
  3. (c)  genital contact
  4. (d)  sexual relations or intimacies between persons in a position of trust,authority and/or evaluative and supervisory control over athletes or other sport participants.

(1) AuthorityandTrust.Oncetheuniquecoach-athleterelationshipisestablished,the

authority and trust on the part of the coach over the athlete shall be assumed, regardless of age. Accordingly, sexual interaction or intimacies between a coach and an athlete or other participant are prohibited, regardless of age, both during coaching and during that period following coaching if an imbalance in power could jeopardize effective decision-making.

Imbalance of Power. Factors relevant to determining whether there is an imbalance of power include, but are not limited to: (a) the nature and extent of the coach’s supervisory, evaluative or other authority over the athlete being coached; (b) the actual relationship between the parties; (c) the parties’ respective roles; (d) the nature and duration of the sexual relations or intimacies; (e) the age of the coach; (f) the age of the athlete or participant; (g) and whether the coach has engaged in a pattern of sexual interaction with other athletes or participants.

(2) Exception. This section does not apply to a pre-existing relationship between two spouses or life partners.

(2) Non-touching offenses. Behaviors that include:

  1. (a)  a coach discussing his or her sex life with an athlete
  2. (b)  a coach asking an athlete about his or her sex life
  3. (c)  coach requesting or sending a nude or partial-dress photo to athlete
  4. (d)  exposing athletes to pornographic material
  5. (e)  sending athletes sexually explicit or suggestive electronic or writtenmessages or photos (e.g. “sexting”)
  6. (f)  deliberately exposing an athlete to sexual acts
  7. (g)  deliberately exposing an athlete to nudity (except in situations wherelocker rooms and changing areas are shared)
  8. (h)  sexual harassment; specifically, the sexual solicitation, physical advances,or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature, and

a. is unwelcome, offensive or creates a hostile environment, and the


offending individual knows or is told this
b. is sufficiently severe or intense to be harassing to a reasonable

person in the context.

  1. (1)  An intentional, persistent and repeated pattern of committing or willfully tolerating physical and non-physical behaviors that are intended, or have the reasonable potential, to cause fear, humiliation or physical harm in an attempt to socially exclude, diminish or isolate the targeted athlete(s), as a condition of membership
  2. (2)  Any act or conduct described as bullying under federal or state law


Bullying does not include group or team behaviors that (a) are meant to establish normative team behaviors, or (b) promote team cohesion.

For example, bullying does not include verbal admonitions to encourage team members to train harder and to push through a difficult training regimen.


Examples of bullying prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation:

(1) Physical behaviors. Behaviors that include (a) hitting, pushing, punching, beating, biting, striking, kicking, choking, or slapping an athlete; (b) throwing at, or hitting an athlete with, objects such as sporting equipment.

(2) Verbal and emotional behaviors. Behaviors that include (a) teasing, ridiculing, intimidating; (b) spreading rumors or making false statements; or (c) using electronic communications, social media, or other technology to

harass, frighten, intimidate or humiliate (“cyber bulling”).


(1) A repeated pattern of physical and/or non-physical behaviors that (a) are intended to cause fear, humiliation or annoyance, (b) offend or degrade, (c) create a hostile environment or (d) reflect discriminatory bias in an attempt to establish dominance, superiority or power over an individual athlete or group based on gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression or mental or physical disability; or

(2) Any act or conduct described as harassment under federal or state law




Examples of harassment prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation:

(1) Physical offenses. Behaviors that include (a) hitting, pushing, punching, beating, biting, striking, kicking, choking or slapping an athlete or participant; (b) throwing at or hitting an athlete with objects including sporting equipment.

(2) Non-physical offenses. Behaviors that include (a) making negative or disparaging comments about an athlete’s sexual orientation, gender expression, disability, religion, skin color, or ethnic traits; (b) displaying offensive materials, gestures, or symbols; (c) withholding or reducing playing time to an athlete based on his or her sexual orientation.


(1) Coercing, requiring, forcing or willfully tolerating any humiliating, unwelcome or dangerous activity that serves as a condition for (a) joining a group or (b) being socially accepted by a group’s members; or

(2) Any act or conduct described as hazing under federal or state law


Hazing does not include group or team activities that (a) are meant to establish normative team behaviors or (b) promote team cohesion.


Examples of hazing prohibited by this Policy include, without limitation:
(1) requiring, forcing or otherwise requiring the consumption of alcohol or illegal


  1. (2)  tying, taping or otherwise physically restraining an athlete
  2. (3)  sexual simulations or sexual acts of any nature
  3. (4)  sleep deprivation, otherwise unnecessary schedule disruption or thewithholding of water and/or food
  4. (5)  social actions (e.g. grossly inappropriate or provocative clothing) or publicdisplays (e.g. public nudity) that are illegal or meant to draw ridicule
  5. (6)  beating, paddling or other forms of physical assault
  6. (7)  excessive training requirements focused on individuals on a team


It is a violation of this Athlete Protection Policy if a coach or member knows of misconduct, but takes no action to intervene on behalf of the athlete.


Although these policies are designed to reduce sexual abuse and other misconduct, it can still occur. Coaches and members of Canal Dock Boathouse, Inc. shall report any incidents to a board member.