This past week I coached at a rowing clinic with one of my friends as part of a local school’s program. The students practiced erg technique in the morning, learned about the Bay’s history at the Maritime museum over lunch, and in the afternoon took to the water with us and the Sea Scouts. What a treat!
We’d had a successful launch out into our cove and the two rowers with me immediately saw their new technique come to life as we glided out on the water. We even got to practice some turns and stops as they switched seats. Returning was equally effective with a push from a northern wind and rolling swells.
Docking, however, was an adventure. Like any bow seat in a double scull boat, I had stern seat put oars up so I could guide us in and get extra oars out of the way. A couple feet from where I’d have backed in to the dock a swell pushed the boat over to the side of the dock and we headed straight for a barnacle-laden dock balance. I shifted to rowing backwards to get us out of the way but it was too late. We nudged the balance with an audible crunch, I uttered a couple profanities, then I furiously rowed backwards to get us out of there.
At this stage the smart thing to do would have been to row back out, take a deep breath, and try again. But I was determined to stick the landing and we were so close. I got us out of the channel, took 2 full strokes so we were parallel to the dock, and the current pushed us to the other side of the dock (near Hyde Street Pier)! We (literally) weren’t out of the water yet and I had to turn the boat around again. The students asked if I needed help. I said “no but this is a great lesson!”
After righting the boat with some furious backwards strokes and a couple river turns, and tossing the painter to the dock (the main rope at the boat’s bow), we were in position to come in and had a crew cheering us on. We pulled up, got out, and the boat and its rowers lived to see another day.