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Old 04-26-2017, 08:20 PM   #1
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Issue With Local Rowing Club

We currently have a 23' runabout that we use on the Ohio River. We usually put in on a smaller river that feeds into the Ohio River. It is about a 3-5 mile run from the small river to the Ohio (where we want to boat).

There is a local Jr. rowing club that has scullers (quads and 8 person) practicing on the small river. At times, they may have what appears to be 30-40 boats spread over 1-2 miles up and down the river. When I approach from the opposite direction, I am always courteous, and slow down to idle, as we pass.

When we are going in the same direction, they make it difficult/impossible to pass. Sometimes they are 4-6 abreast, and take up the entire width of the river, with no regard for other pleasure boats, and their ability to pass. Most times they are running about ~5-10mph, so I have to run at just above idle speed, they seem to never stop to allow anyone to go around(not that they have to I guess).

If they don't stop, or move over, I cannot pass, it can take me up to an hour to get out onto the Ohio. Tonight I was in a hurry to pick up some friends that were waiting, got on plane and went around them several times, staying as far away as I could. One of the coaches (in an outboard johnboat) yelled at me through his bullhorn. I stopped, and had a discussion with him. He said I am putting his kids in danger. Which I understand (I am responsible for my wake). But they have an attitude that this is their river, and no one else matters.

I am getting ready to send an email to the director, but wanted to get some feedback from this crew. Am I wrong? Is there anything you would suggest?
I feel like I am negotiating mine field sometimes, in order to get through all the scullers.
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Old 04-26-2017, 08:41 PM   #2
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Sound your horn. Hope it's loud to the extent of irritation, using multiple short toots. They've no right to block navigation. ... Meanwhile, five knots would barely slow me down. There are two rowing clubs here, but it's rare to see more than one of their boats at a time.
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Old 04-26-2017, 08:44 PM   #3
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I suggest you inform the rowing club's director that the coach is putting his rowers in danger by failing to give way to other vessels seeking to pass safely.
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Old 04-26-2017, 08:50 PM   #4
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You have a great attitude and it does sound like there is a problem that needs to be worked out. I think approaching the director of the club is a great idea. If it was me, and I had the time, I would send the director an email asking to meet him/her to discuss it. Meeting over coffee somewhere (preferably somewhere that overlooks the river during a time that the club is actively practicing) would be my preference.

Again, if it was me I would state in the email that I wanted to get the director's suggestions on way that I could navigate the river without interfering with the kids in the boats. It has been my experience that being non-confrontational, helpful, and "meek" goes a long way to help develop a cooperative attitude.

In the meantime, I would also reach out to whomever has jurisdiction over that stretch of the navigable river and find out what the rules really are. The USCG, county sheriff or whomever, could give you some guidance ahead of the meeting IF they chose to be helpful.

Good luck.
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Old 04-26-2017, 08:50 PM   #5
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Sound your horn. Hope it's loud to the extent of irritation, using multiple short toots.
Thanks, I have sounded my horn. They either ignore me, or look at me like I'm bothering them.
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Old 04-26-2017, 08:57 PM   #6
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Yes, let's keep in mind the coach is putting them in danger prior to you as he's not teaching them to respect other boats or to share the waterway. I've seen this out of bicyclists in areas. I know in the junior sail clubs and courses here, the kids are taught rules but also just respect for others. They go out sailing as a group and they leave room for other boats coming through, which is much more difficult when sailing than rowing.

Now, you say you "put in", so implies you have no slip or dock there. Knowing about the rowing club and it apparently a repeat problem, is there somewhere else perhaps better to put in? Is this area relatively unused or are there huge numbers of other boats traveling through as you do?
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Old 04-26-2017, 08:57 PM   #7
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Thanks, I have sounded my horn. They either ignore me, or look at me like I'm bothering them.
Most likely, your horn is weak, as most all small boats have.
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Old 04-26-2017, 09:04 PM   #8
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You need a trawler that means "business."



Or better yet, a ship with multiple machine guns.

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Old 04-26-2017, 09:10 PM   #9
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Now, you say you "put in", so implies you have no slip or dock there. Knowing about the rowing club and it apparently a repeat problem, is there somewhere else perhaps better to put in? Is this area relatively unused or are there huge numbers of other boats traveling through as you do?
We pay an annual fee to use this ramp (already paid for the year). Not a huge amount of $, but is is the most convenient for us.
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Old 04-26-2017, 09:15 PM   #10
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The sound of rust creeping up behind them will scare the hell out of them
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Old 04-26-2017, 09:22 PM   #11
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Not the rust, but a strong bow.

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Old 04-26-2017, 09:33 PM   #12
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How about a great stereo and very loud directional speaker system pointed off the bow; with Jimi Hendricks "Star Spangled Banner" blaring at them... youngsters will not understand Jimi's artistry, coaches probably won't either..

If that doesn't work... go abstract and blast Tiny Tim's "Tip Toe Through the Tulips"!!

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Old 04-26-2017, 09:39 PM   #13
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The sound of rust creeping up behind them will scare the hell out of them


Now you are just being silly Mark, everybody knows there's no rust on the Coot. I just may need to invite myself over for an inspection visit in August after your annual trip to KKMI to see if they missed a spot
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Old 04-26-2017, 09:47 PM   #14
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We pay an annual fee to use this ramp (already paid for the year). Not a huge amount of $, but is is the most convenient for us.
It doesn't sound very convenient with the rowing group.
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Old 04-26-2017, 10:58 PM   #15
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I think you'd get more help if you approached the director with a request for his help in solving a problem BEFORE someone gets hurt or a boat flips. Let him know you're seeking his help and he'll be more likely to be in your corner.
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Old 04-26-2017, 11:07 PM   #16
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I might be in a unique position to comment and offer suggestions. Iím a professional mariner, recreational boater and competitive rower. Yeah, I spend too much time on the waterÖ. Did I mention river rafter? Maybe I need an intervention and a move to the desert? Anyway, back to the point. Iíve been on both sides of this channel. Finding my passage blocked by the damned water bugs (rowing shells) and intimidated by power boaters while in my shell. The frustrations on both sided are real and legitimate. The difference being that in a shell your life can be as risk.

A couple of actions may help to smooth the waters, it's made a difference for us. The first is to meet with the rowing club officials and explain your frustration. It would be best if you could form a group of boaters using the ramp and narrow channel. Not so much to intimidate the rowers as to begin to form a broad community of all users of the channel. Seek an agreement whereby the rowing shells will stay to the right and your gang will pass at minimal wake speed after sounding the correct signals. Coming to agreement wonít happen overnight and will take meetings every season. Include the local authorities in the meetings. Usually local police or sheriff. The USCG wonít want to attend.

The second is to make an attempt to learn the rowing clubís schedule. Perhaps they can post the schedule online? Use that info to do your best to avoid the times of worst congestion. Much as you avoid traffic jams when possible. Hint, the shells out at 5 AM are the most serious racers training hard. In our club a relatively small group moving fast. The juniors are out late afternoon after school. A veritable armada, from the most inexperienced having trouble controlling their boats and staying upright to accomplished athletes. As much as possible I try to avoid using the shared narrow channels with the juniors are out. There are just too many of them.

As with so many things in life it comes down to responsibility and respect. Given time and cooperation it will get better. Not perfect but better. There will always be the cowboys from both camps, arrogant, self centered and a hazard to themselves and others. I nearly ran over a shell in darkness, he cut across the bow of the self propelled barge I was driving. He was unlit, in dark clothing, in a dark shell on a moonless night. He disappeared under the bow while I did everything I could to stop. I still donít know how I missed him. Iíve been hit several times by rowers failing to look around and going at full race pace, we were tied to the dock when it happened. Our club had a wake board boat run through the middle of one of our open water rowing races at max wake producing speed just to make a point. A local club had a double hit by a ski boat killing both rowers. The way to handle those d$!&s is to report them immediately to the police / sheriff.
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Old 04-26-2017, 11:35 PM   #17
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tgotch, you have been patient and your approach is perfectly reasonable. Our RMS (Roads and Maritime Services Authority[interesting combination eh?] has a slogan "The Road is there to share", it seems to me you are sharing but they are not. So a nice approach to the rowing club is definitely in order.
We had an expensive private school near our old mooring. They often had rowing sculls out on the river, we got by ok. Every year they had a Regatta for all major Sydney private schools, occupying the length and breadth of the river. Even then we could co-operate to gain passage, and they would have obtained permission for the Regatta from RMS.
It really depends on the club taking a sensible approach enabling all users to utilize the river. If their Director proves as unreasonable as the coach, take it to whoever administers the waterway. It needs fixing, not everyone has your patience.
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Old 04-27-2017, 08:57 AM   #18
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I think you'd get more help if you approached the director with a request for his help in solving a problem BEFORE someone gets hurt or a boat flips. Let him know you're seeking his help and he'll be more likely to be in your corner.
Give the warning in writing, copied to several people there and the USCG.

Finding out that a deep pockets organization/person responsible was advised that something bad could happen if changes weren't made, nothing being done, and then an accident on point to the warning given occurring, is the kind of thing personal injury lawyers lay in bed at night dreaming about. Actually knowing, pretty much covers the "what a reasonably prudent person should have known" element.
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Old 04-27-2017, 09:25 AM   #19
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My son rowed in college and now for private club. You stated jr rowing club, which means they are real new to the sport, they don't wear life jackets so I would be extremely cautious passing, and never be in a rush as they can flood easily thus sinking a group of kids.

Yes indeed they are side by side, many of their races are that way so that's a good way to practice and adjust rowers in teams.

Could be worse, they could get the section shutdown until they are done do to safety, rowing clubs typically have very influential people on their boards...
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Old 04-27-2017, 10:29 AM   #20
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Tonight I was in a hurry to pick up some friends that were waiting, got on plane and went around them several times, staying as far away as I could. One of the coaches (in an outboard johnboat) yelled at me through his bullhorn. I stopped, and had a discussion with him. He said I am putting his kids in danger. Which I understand (I am responsible for my wake). But they have an attitude that this is their river, and no one else matters.

I am getting ready to send an email to the director, but wanted to get some feedback from this crew. Am I wrong? .
I wouldn't say you're wrong being upset, but I would say you're absolutely wrong to lose your patience and pass them at speed and put them in danger regardless of how wrong they are. You knew there was danger to them and let your temper cloud your judgement.
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