Return to Rowing

Dear Strathpeffer & District Community Rower,

On Thursday, 20th August, the Scottish government announced the easing of restrictions on outdoor contact sports between all ages, beginning Monday 24th August.

Based on this information, our behind the scenes team intensified work on a Covid 19 risk assessment and protocols for our club, SDCRC. Hazel Inglis has done a huge amount of work on the risk assessment and protocols, including completing a course for Covid 19 officers (the named responsible person for an organisation).

At a meeting on Sunday, with Lori (Chairperson) and Rod (Secretary), Hazel agreed to be named Covid officer, if the Trustees approved. At this meeting we went through the 30 page Sport Scotland document relating to ‘Return to Sport in time of Covid’, and cross referenced our risk assessment and protocols to the Sport Scotland and Scottish Coastal Rowing Association Guidelines and Legislation.

Once we were satisfied that we met the requirements for a return to rowing, we presented our risk assessment and protocols to the full Board of Trustees for approval. After discussion and a few group decisions, the approval was given for SDCRC and Grebe to return to rowing from Monday- once a trial run of the new protocols had been evaluated.

Hazel Inglis was also confirmed as Covid Officer for SDCRC. She is responsible for club adherence to the Scottish Routemap guidance and legislation, and for advising the Board of relevant information regarding Covid 19 and our sport in Scotland. Hazel will also be the Club’s liaison to Scotland’s ‘Test and Protect’ programme, informing them of any positive cases within our organisation, and with whom they have had contact with, whilst on a Club activity.

What does this mean for you, our keen rowers? Well, there will be some changes the next time you come for a row. These are to minimise transmission of the virus, and to enable us to return to rowing before the virus is fully eliminated.

If in the last 10 days you (or anyone in your household or support bubble) have had any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), have tested positive for coronavirus or have been told by NHS Scotland Test and Protect that you have been in contact with a person with coronavirus - Please do not attend a row.

We are required by law to report the contact details of any member who develops symptoms after a row, to Test and Protect Scotland (TPS). We must also give the contact details of all those on that row to TPS. Please ensure the Club has up to date contact details for you.

The Club's trustees have also decided that the Club will notify your fellow rowers that someone they rowed with has developed symptoms and is being tested.

We will not identify you, but as we are a small club, identifying the symptomatic person will likely be possible. We've decided to take this additional step to enable members and their families to begin self isolation quicker, and limit any spread of the virus. If this is not something you are comfortable with, we respectfully ask you to refrain from rowing until we are no longer required to report cases.

By signing up for a row you agree to notify your cox, or the Covid officer, if you later develop any of the above symptoms.

Rowing will be limited to current members of our club, including associates. While we need to grow membership once the current situation is resolved, right now the priority is to provide exercise and relaxation for our current members. To this end, the Come and Try sessions are suspended until further notice.

The club is purchasing 5 more life jackets as the current sanitisation protocols require life jackets to rest for 72 hours after use. This will give us 15 life jackets in total, equating to a maximum of 6 rows per week. Currently we have 10 life jackets and therefore a maximum of 4 rows are possible per week. This means we must ask members to limit themselves to one row per week unless they are needed for another row to go ahead. Please leave a comment on a Team Up booking if you’d like a second row in a week, requesting to be a reserve.

During our trial row, we determined some protocols were unviable, and that some needed adjustment. Yet others required reinforcing.

The main points are:

1. Rowing is a contact sport, we will not be able to avoid infringing on each others 2m social distance space. We will unavoidably brush up against each other, and we will require to hand items to each other. But we must try to minimise this as much as possible.

2. Wearing of clothing and footwear that enables rowers to get wet to just above the knees is now necessary. This is to facilitate launching and recovery of the skiff via floating on method.

3. Put your mask and gloves on in your car prior to attending the skiff. This prevents accidental contact and minimises chance of transmission (if we forget and shake hands, for example).

4. Old habits are hard to break- Please be aware of your own behaviour and distancing. Pats on back, handshakes, standing close together, these are all normal to us. Unfortunately, these are ways the virus transmits and we must be on guard against casual behaviour.

4a. Please be considerate of your fellow rowers and do not put them in a position where they feel uncomfortable by pushing boundaries. Even if you feel the Covid procedures are excessive, you do not know who has underlying health issues or family members with compromised immune systems.

5. The cox will need to designate jobs more definitively. This is not rowing positions, but rather relates to launch, boat moving and handling, recovery, and cleaning the boat, oars, and lifejackets. Please pay attention to the cox's directions, and be mindful of other rowers location.

6. Rowing is limited to 4 rowers and the cox. No passengers are able to come out currently.

7. The skiff will only launch in calm conditions, and rowing will be for leisure. No racing, training, or vigorous rowing is currently possible, unless a crew and cox are all from the same household.

8. To enable the cox to have a row too, ideally the cox and stroke will be from the same household. If this is not possible, landing the boat to change places is advised (only cox and stroke move, emptying the boat- to reload the boat causes more surfaces to be touched). If impractical, careful change while at sea is possible, in calm conditions only.

8a. Think and plan your changeover procedure in advance (to minimise touching each other and common surfaces).

8b. Both stroke and cox must wear masks and gloves during any changeover, unless they are from the same household.

8c. If VHF is on board, the 2nd cox should wipe it with disinfectant wipes prior to use. Also wipe the tiller handle while you have the wipe to hand. Take extra precautions that the disinfectant wipes do not end up in the water, most are toxic to aquatic life.

8d. During disembarking, and recovery of skiff, the booking cox is responsible for directing operations. The booking cox is responsible for the entire row.

9. Rowing or cycling gloves and appropriate masks are required to be worn by rowers at all times. The only exception is when rowing, or drinking, where masks only may be removed. Masks must be purpose made, cloth or disposable. Pulling up a hoody or a light scarf is not sufficient.

10. Rowers must follow the directions of the cox and the Club's Covid protocols at all times when attending for a row. Failure to do so may result in a request that you refrain from rowing until restrictions are eased.

11. Procedure for Rowing will be sent out in a following email. Please familiarise yourself with it prior to coming for a row.

We thank you for your understanding as we implement these new, quite strict, requirements. The changes are different, and difficult, and your Club appreciates your support as we navigate our way through the legislation and guidelines required for a safe return to rowing.

If we follow the necessary protocols, hopefully we will be able to relax them soon. If we do not follow them, we risk resurgence of case numbers and losing rowing for an extended time again.

Thank you,

Lori MacGregor, Hazel Inglis, and the Trustees of SDCRC.

Procedure for Rows

Welcome back to Scottish Coastal Rowing with Strathpeffer & District Community Rowing Club!

To attend a row, please book as normal on the Team Up app. We are currently asking rowers to book in only once per week due to limited life jacket availability. You may request a reserve space on a second row by placing a note in the comments section.

Please be aware that by booking a row you are agreeing to notify your cox, or Hazel Inglis, our Covid Officer, if you begin experiencing Covid19 symptoms within 10 days of your row.

You are agreeing that you, or anyone in your household or support bubble, have not had Covid 19 symptoms within the previous 10 days prior to the row, that you, or your household, do not currently have a positive test result for Covid 19, and that you, or your household, have not been advised to self isolate or quarantine within the last 14 days prior to row.

You are also agreeing to your details being shared with Test and Protect Scotland, and that "someone has developed symptoms" information will be shared with your rowing crew, if the need arises.

On the day of your row, please come along to the new clubhouse in good time for the start of your row. The clubhouse is located at the end of Quintin's run of containers, across from where Grebe was previously stored. Please put your mask and gloves on before you leave your car.

If the access is clear (staff car park may be full), please park around back near to the clubhouse, as this frees up spaces in the main car park for Quintin's customers.

Once your cox arrives, they will direct you to collect your lifejacket - one person at a time- from the shipping container. Please take note of the colour of the hanger that you are instructed to select your lifejacket from. The jacket's hangers are colour coded to indicate which have completed sanitation procedures.

Your cox will hold a briefing to explain how moving and handling of the boat will work, and procedures for launch. These will be different to before, as we must try to keep physical distancing in place where possible.

Prior to the row, the boat will be sprayed or sponged down with disinfectant at the touch points (along gunwales, thole pins). The cox will make up the solution/ source the spray and then assign this task to one of the rowers. The cushions will also need to be reattached. This will be after disinfection of the boat.

To keep 2 m spacing, we ask rowers to move the boat using the thole pins for guidance. These are diagonally and horizontally 2 m apart, so will help with spacing.

The launch and recovery of Grebe are pinch points for contact between rowers. Use of bow and stern lines and a longer launch trolley rope will allow floating the boat on and off the trailer, minimising the amount rowers must get wet. This is a manoeuvre we will need to practise, spreading out and controlling Grebe with ropes, rather than bunching up at the trolley end of the boat. The same will apply for recovery. We must float the boat on, not pull her up manually.

When entering and exiting the skiff, please minimise touching other rower's thwarts, oars, and gunwales, if possible. We do not want anyone to fall, so do the best you can while staying safe.

Once freely afloat, the cox will advise you when it is ok to remove your mask. Please make sure you keep it to hand, as you will need it on your return to shore.

During the row, if the cox asks if anyone needs a break, please say yes- before you get breathless. We have all been away from rowing for a while, we will need to rebuild fitness, stamina, and muscle. Go easy on yourself to start.

In the same vein, rowing sessions may have more breaks when on the water, or a crew may need shorter rowing sessions initially. What we are trying to avoid is heavy breathing, as this is when virus transmission is higher and risk greater.

On return to the Storehouse, the cox will advise when to replace your masks. Be aware of others locations when moving down and out of the boat, and if you are holding the skiff for your fellow rowers to disembark, please keep as far back from them as possible.

Once all rowers are clear of the skiff, one designated person should roll the launch trolley down the slipway, while other rowers hold Grebe steady with the bow and stern lines. The other two rowers can steady her at the sides, but be aware of the ropes. If the launch trolley needs to be lowered further into the water than hand held allows, we can attach a rope to the handle to increase distance. Float Grebe on, hold her steady with side ropes, then pull trolley up with boat together.

This manoeuvre will need practise. We should be able to do it in the types of calm conditions we plan to launch in. But it will be comical until we perfect it.

On recovering Grebe, please man your designated thole pin and help return Grebe to the cleaning area.

Upon arrival at cleaning area, lifejackets should be removed and placed into the blue trug, one person at a time. The cox will wipe them down with the warm soapy water, place them on to the hangers (all one colour), then hang these in the container to dry. The cox will note day, time, and hanger colour onto the white board.

After lifejackets have been one rower will be assigned oars, one rower will have boat, and one rower will be assigned cushions. The final rower will be assigned filling a bucket with warm water from the geyser in the outdoor toilet, and adding fairy liquid. The cox will take responsibility for life jackets. Oar person can remove oars, and cushion person can detach cushions, whilst bucket of water is being collected.

The oars and boat *(including ropes) should be washed down with warm soapy water using a sponge or brush.The seat cushions should be removed and sprayed with aerosol antibac.

Please be mindful of each other as you work on your designated areas. Masks should continue to be worn by all, gloves may be removed by those cleaning with the warm soapy water.

Once clean, the oars should be returned to the skiff. The cushion are to be placed in the container, and the soapy water may be poured out onto the gound- IF it does not contain disinfectant. All cleaning materials should be returned to the container. Hand sanitiser is freely available at the cabin, for members to use at any time, please make use of this before heading back to your cars.

The guidance from Sport Scotland and the SCRA recommends rowers have a shower as soon as possible after the row. Clothes should be changed, and all items used during row be put for washing straight away.

Remember, if you develop Covid 19 symptoms at any point in the 10 days following your row- you MUST notify your cox, or Hazel Inglis, our Covid Officer.

Thank you for your understanding of these lengthy and prescriptive procedures. We are doing the best we can, within the framework we have. Hopefully by following these protocols, we can dispense with them sooner rather than later. We really aren't trying to take the joy from our sport, and we are sure the new routine will become second nature quite quickly.

Outdoor club toilet- Members of the public have been using this toilet, and Quintin has kept it stocked with bar soap and toilet roll. There are no cleaning materials, however. The club will supply antibacterial wipes for cleaning all touch surfaces ( THESE MUST NOT BE FLUSHED DOWN LOO), liquid hand soap, paper towels, and toilet roll for members to use when they go to this toilet. Please collect and return the "Toilet" pack from the clubhouse, if you wish to use these items. They are being provided so that we may clean the toilet room surfaces for Quintin, and for ourselves.

Thank you again, stay safe and we we will see you out on the water very soon,

Regards, The SDCRC Trustees and Covid Officer

P.S. If you have any change or update to contact details, phone, email etc please contact SDCRC Secretary