Rule #1: Be Safe!

Any activity that takes place on or near the water requires a markedly higher level of safety awareness than it would on dry land. Use good judgment when assessing your rowing ability and the conditions on the river. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety. Rowers are expected to be aware of and follow the rules below.

Watch the USRowing Safety Video


UVRF Safety Procedures:

1) Sign in/sign out

All scullers must sign out in the log book before launching, and sign in upon their return.

2) Launching and Landing

ALWAYS launch and land with the bow facing upstream. 
Launching boats have priority for dock space over landing boats.

3) Dock Etiquette

Exit the dock promptly. Especially during peak hours (6am-8am), scullers are expected to be off the dock within 3 minutes of arrival.

Scullers carrying their boats off the dock have priority over those bringing boats onto the dock.

Keep the sculling dock clear of obstacles! Oars should be left out of the path of others using the dock. No shoes, extra clothes etc. may be left on the sculling dock.

Be alert when swinging the boat overhead or to the shoulder for carrying and when turning a corner while moving to and from the boathouse.

4) Traffic pattern & rules of the road

All boats must stay to the New Hampshire shore travelling upstream (north), and to the Vermont shore travelling down-stream (south).

In general, overtaking boats have the right of way. Use appropriate caution if exercising this right involves passing anything bigger or faster than you.

5) Known Water Hazards

Conditions on the Connecticut River change continuously. The hazards described below represent a sample – they are not a definitive list:

  • Ledyard Canoe Club – boats frequently cluster around the canoe dock, and may not adhere to the traffic pattern.
  • Swimmers – particularly between the Narrows and the Dartmouth Rowing dock.
  • Boat Grabbing Trees – in various places on the NH and VT shore line, most notably at the “big bend” just south of our dock at Kendal Riverfront Park.

6) Visibility

Scullers are strongly encouraged to wear a hi-viz shirt, especially immediately before sunset, immediately after sunrise and on Fall mornings when it is often foggy.

7) Rowing in the Dark

Sunrise and sunset are defined by the sunrise and sunset times for Hanover, NH as listed here.

Club boats may only be rowed during daylight hours. This means club boats may not launch before sunrise, and must return to the dock by sunset.

Private boat owners who chose to row in the dark must use lights, and are strongly encourage to wear bright colored or reflective clothing.

8) Rowing in the fog

Do not row in fog unless your visibility to shore is as least 100 yards (roughly the distance from the sculling dock to the Vermont shore). If fog sets in while you are on the water, move slowly, and be prepared to stop quickly. Use a sound-making device (coxbox, horn, or whistle) to advise other boats of your location.

9) Flow rate

Please Check the Wilder Dam Flow Rate before you go out. The following rules apply to club boats:

  • Recreational singles (Maas Aeros, Maas 24s, Peinert Zephyr) and singles using pontoons may not go out if the flow rate is above 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).
  • Racing singles (Peinert 25s & 26s, Vespoli 135s and 175s) may not go out if the flow rate is above 15,000 cfs.
  • Club doubles may not go out if the flow rate is above 20,000 cfs (Exception: Racing Doubles and Club Doubles may be rowed at any flow rate by those rowers who have been certified to bow the club Racing Doubles)

10) Weather Conditions

Rowers should not go out if:

  • There are white caps on the water.
  • You hear thunder or see lightning.
  • A thunderstorm has passed through within the last 30 minutes.

If you are on the water and a thunderstorm comes up get off the water as quickly as possible.

11) Cold Water Rowing

Flipping into water colder than 60F can be deadly, even for strong swimmers. Sudden immersion in cold water results in “cold shock,” an involuntary response that includes rapid heartbeat, uncontrolled gasping and sometimes uncontrolled movement.  It can lead to drowning within 3 to 5 minutes.  After cold shock comes “swim failure” where the constriction of blood vessels makes it impossible to control your limbs well enough to keep your head above water.  Swim failure can occur within as little as 5 minutes of being immersed in cold water. 

There is a pool thermometer attached to the sculling dock, on the side closest to the safety launch approximately 3 feet south of the safety dock.    It is your responsibility to check the thermometer before you row, and to take appropriate precautions as described below.

Unless you are accompanied by a launch with PFDs then please consider the safety guidelines below. Your safety is ultimately your responsibility. Be willing to reschedule when the conditions are unsafe: ask yourself Why you are rowing in these conditions. Remember that choices you make can affect others in our rowing community.

Water TemperatureSingle ScullersDoublesQuads

Below 50 degrees

(Usually until mid-May, often accompanied by strong currents and floating debris, but may also occur in late fall)

Wear a PFD

4-oars: Be accompanied by another boat and use the buddy system

Wear a PFD

Strongly recommend be accompanied by another boat

Carry a PFD

Strongly recommend wearing a PFD

Strongly recommend be accompanied by another boat

Between 50 and 60 degrees

(Usually mid-May into early June, and late fall)

Wear a PFD

Strongly recommend being accompanied by another boat

Carry a PFD

Strongly recommend wearing a PFD

Strongly recommend being accompanied by another boat

Carry a PFD

Strongly recommend wearing a PFD

Recommend being accompanied by another boat

If you flip your boat in cold water, immediately inflate or don your PFD. Try to get back into your boat if you can. If you cannot, do not leave your boat. Try to get as much of your body out of the water as you can, and paddle or kick the boat to shore. Do not try to swim for shore without your using your boat as flotation: cold water can lead to swim failure within minutes, even for very strong swimmers.

We recommend watching the below youtube videos on getting back in a boat after you’ve flipped. Be sure to try this in warm water before going out in cold water.


UVRF offers 10 PFDs suitable for wearing when sculling. Depending on the season, these are distributed between Kendal and the Fuller Boathouse when water temperatures are below 60 degrees.  

We recommend that you read the following articles about the dangers of cold water and cold shock.

Cold Shock and Swimming Failure
by Chris Brooks
Sea Kayaker Magazine, February 2008 

Survival in Cold Waters : Staying Alive
by Dr. C. J. Brooks
August 24, 2001, TP 13822
A Report Prepared For Transport Canada

The Truth About Cold Water

Sources for PFD’s

Use your common sense when assessing your rowing ability and the conditions of the river, particularly those that affect the likelihood of whether you will flip or not. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.