I learned a hard lesson my first year as a head coach. It had to do with our rowing equipment storage.
Spring season was starting and it’d been a tough winter.
Athletes and coaches were ready to get on the water, excited about “real rowing” instead of “erg rowing.” Several of us ventured to the boathouse to get the equipment ready.
We walked into the boathouse and found several of our boats and 1/2 of our oars were unrowable.
One boat had fallen off a rack.
Another had several rigger parts and a seat “borrowed.”
That wasn’t the worst of it.
A septic system had backed up. Raw sewage had seeped under a wall and then over the floor where our oars were stored. Two full sets of oars were destroyed when their wooden handles had sat in raw sewage for several weeks.
It was a great start to the season.
Why we store rowing equipment
Rowers store their equipment for many different reasons:
- Long-term inclement weather (ahem…Winter)
- Equipment no longer needed
- School vacations
- An injury that requires long rehab and hence equipment downtime
- Construction (new facility – yeah!)
- Destruction (hurricane, fire – boo!)
Regardless of exactly what your reason is for rowing equipment storage, I’m here to tell you that the equipment might not look the same or row the same due to damage that occurred while in storage.
Some drastic, devastating, and really unpleasant things can happen to rowing equipment when it is stored, as I found out.
An insurance company rep, who knows his stuff, told me more damage happens during rowing equipment storage and transport than does while it is rowed.
I am a believer.
How to store your rowing equipment safely
There are proactive actions you can take to improve the odds your equipment survives. Here are a handful of those actions I take each year, and ones I suggest you consider:
- To prevent fires, have a site visit by a Fire Marshall, and/or insurance agent.
- Store all equipment out of direct sunlight.
- If equipment is stored in direct sunlight, coat equipment with a good quality marine/car wax.
- Store boat(s) on balanced, level racks.
- Secure racked boats with tie-downs (this saved one of our boats during an earth quake).
- Wash and dry all equipment, especially those made of natural materials, completely before storing.
- Check storage site for evidence of insects and rodents. If you find them, take action to get rid of the invaders. (We were invaded by bats one summer!)
- Make repairs on equipment before storing.
- Check all replaceable items (such as sneakers, bow balls, tracks, oarlocks) and order replacement parts.
- Develop a list of other spare parts you might need and order them while the equipment is in storage
- Follow manufacturer’s recommendations when storing chemicals, such as paint, thinners and glues.
- Winterize your launch motors, and properly store fuel and tanks.
- Remove batteries from all electrical items (e.g., flashlights, megaphones) except those in which the manufacturer has sealed in the battery.
- Unplug rechargeable electronics, and store them according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Store equipment only in areas that are dry, well ventilated, and are not prone to flooding.
- Clean up all trash and waste areas. They can be potential fire hazards and attract uninvited guest of the four legged variety.
- Take proper security measures. You’re looking to thwart uninvited guests of the two legged variety.
- If you know the rigging numbers for the next season, rig your equipment PRIOR to storage. It will save you time, and hassles.
- Check that your insurance is up to date, and the coverage is sufficient.
- Do NOT store Concept2 indoor rowing machines upright, there is a risk the machine can fall, and storing upright can damage the frame. (Here are their recommendations).
- Check on stored equipment periodically.
I know these seem like a lot, but the facts of the matter is that rowing equipment IS expensive. And it is NOT indestructible.
If you are planning storage, or have already stored your rowing equipment, realize you can save a lot of money, headaches, and wasted practice time by being proactive.
I wish I knew that years ago.
Keep Learning About Rowing Equipment Storage
- Make It Last Forever: A Guide To Rowing Equipment Care
- 3 Ways Coaches Waste Money
- Innovative rowing equipment storage racks
- 6 Steps to a Million Stroke Boat