The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club (ONEC) is committed to providing and encouraging a safe and enjoyable rowing experience.

ONEC Sculling – Safety Rules

Rowing is a physically demanding, outdoor, on-water, sport. It has inherent dangers, and you do it at your own risk. You must follow club safety rules and use good judgement.

Most ONEC rowing is done un-accompanied by a coach boat; be prepared for self-rescue.

The Ottawa River can range from slow, warm and glass-calm to cold, fast, windy and treacherous.

ONEC rowers face collision hazards from the significant rowing traffic of the Ottawa Rowing Club, anchorage around Kettle Island, high-speed recreational boat use, particularly in the evening, and large sight-seeing vessels.

There is little emergency assistance on the Ottawa river. Dispatch time is lengthy. Call 911, and indicate a “marine emergency on the Ottawa River”. In an emergency, you will probably be relying on the assistance of other rowers and boaters, if you can alert them.

Rowers must:

  • Obey the Cold Water Policy.
  • Obey the traffic patterns.
  • Take one life jacket per seat
  • Wear a whistle (preferably Fox 40)
  • Wear flashing LED lights (preferably bow & stern) when out after sunset or before sunrise.
  • Refrain from rowing in dangerous conditions; thunder / lightning, fog, high winds / waves, high humidex.
  • Exercise caution and courtesy at all times.

Rowers are strongly encouraged to:

  • Row using a buddy system (i.e., row in a double or quad, or with other single shells).
  • Purchase and wear an inflatable life jacket, particularly if rowing alone, or if a glasses wearer, or with visual or other impairments.
  • Purchase and take with you a Transport Canada approved small vessel emergency kit. The authorities will fine you if you are caught on the water without it.
  • Participate in club safety seminars and demonstrations.

In the event of a capsize:

  • Inflate or put on your life-jacket immediately. It minimizes heat and energy loss.
  • Blow your whistle, in bursts of three (the signal for “help me”).
  • Stay with the boat, it floats. Use the boat to get to shore.
  • If you decide to swim for shore without the boat, take the oars – they float.
  • For information on how to return a capsized shell, have a look at this video.

Avoiding Injury
Safety begins with good health and avoiding injury, so it is important for you to consult with your coaches and health practitioners on any health concerns you may have. Although a great sport for fitness and overall health, like any sport there may be injuries that are avoidable. The good news is that these injuries often take some time to develop and the symptoms can telegraph more serious problems to come.

For more insight into rowing sports injuries, you may refer to an article by Kristine A. Karlson, MD’s journal article titled Rowing Injuries: Identifying and Treating Musculoskeletal and Nonmusculoskeletal Conditions. (THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE – VOL 28 – NO. 4 – APRIL 2000). In this article, she sums up:

“Rowing is a popular, strenuous sport with both unique and common injuries caused by overuse. Acute, sudden injury is rare. An understanding of the mechanics of the rowing stroke, the equipment, and the training practices is key to making appropriate changes to prevent and treat injuries.”

Cold Water Safety

Cold Water Safety Rules

Cold water safety rules are necessary when water temperatures are 16°C and lower, usually in the Spring and Fall. Please read the following rules if you are interested in cold water rowing.

For single rowers, Sculling Safety At BIAC was created for the Bair Island Aquatic Center by Mike Sullivan. It contains an illustrated method for climbing back into a single rowing shell after falling into the water. The ONEC thanks Mike for his permission to use this on our site.

We are also focused on making touring a safe experience and encourage all rowers to familiarize themselves with our Guidelines for Touring.

Other Safety Considerations
In the springtime, the current can be stronger, typically up river near the mouth of the Gatineau River and the middle of the river. Please ensure your course is recorded on the white board in the boathouse and/or you are attended by a coach boat or other rowing boats.

Please do not row during thunderstorms. Please use your common sense at other times and if possible consult more experienced scullers concerning safety.

The traffic direction for rowing on the river is to row upstream on the Ontario side, and downstream on the shore closest to the Quebec side of the river. (This is the same as at the Ottawa Rowing Club.) Please consult the map located in Boathouse vestibule for further clarification. When returning to the club, approach the dock from downstream.

There is a telephone just to the right of the Scullery door and there is a first aid kit to the left of the back door. Don’t forget to carry a whistle and life jacket when rowing.

Please be sure to reserve your boat in advance on the boat reservation system. Should you have further safety concerns, please consult this Rowing Safety page and/or contact the club.