With the summer upon us and lots of us venturing out in small boats on fine sunny calm (we wish) evenings at the Dam, it was timely that we do some capsize drills, just in case we happen to find ourselves in a spot of bother.
Rather than trying to practice in the properly cold water at Damflask, off we went to the tropical climes of Hillsborough pool, where the palm trees and sharks made us feel like we'd actually gone on holiday. Fourteen enthusiasts signed up to put themselves through the drills, including two brand new Learn-2-Row members - before they'd ever seen a boat!
With an ambitious schedule of drills from Safety Officer Ciara, the group split up and got to work. Everybody got through the four basic skills:
- A 50m swim in rowing clothing
- A 5m underwater swim
- Two minutes' treading water
- Capsizing a single, releasing feet, and getting on top of the upturned hull. This basic self-rescue is an essential skill
- getting your body out of the water to minimise heat-loss is really, really important in cold water.
Most people also had a go at righting and re-entering the single scull, with mixed results! But even if some didn't quite manage it, it was a really useful reminder of how tricky (and tiring) this can actually be - even in a warm, safe swimming pool. So definitely something for us to continue to work on.
We also spend some time practising with throw ropes, and demonstrating how a manual self-inflating life jacket actually works.
All-in-all, a successful evening's work, with lots learnt. And an admirably brave and enthusiastic introduction to the club for the L2Rs Kate and Glenn - happily capsizing a 1x as their first ever rowing experience!