There are things in your boathouse that don’t belong. Items that will cause you in the future to slap palm-on-forehead and say, “Ugh, why did I leave that there?”
It is all about boathouse safety
Three times that has happened to me.
Once I let an old strap sneak back in from the BAD PILE and it caused havoc.
Another time a damaged sling ripped—almost destroying a perfectly innocent boat.
And another time you can imagine how high I jumped when I put on an old life jacket which had an inhabited mouse nest in it.
Let’s reduce the chance that these mishaps, and others, will happen to you.
11 things to remove from your boathouse today
To start, when I say remove, I mean one of two things:
- Secure an item so only you or someone in-the-know can use it
- Move a thing from the boathouse so it is away from everyone
Why do this?
A few reasons, such as: reducing lost practice time, saving equipment from damage, avoiding race day hassles, and shrinking potential injuries. Think boathouse safety.
With those reasons in mind, here’s a list of 11 things to remove immediately from your boathouse:
#1) Bleach: Let me be clear…bleach CAN be a very helpful tool in the boathouse, in the right hands. It’s easy to assume that using bleach is a no-brainer—especially today. Nope..you need to use your brain and use bleach the right way. If used incorrectly bleach can and will cause significant damage.
Here’s a few bleach thoughts from the experts:
- Bleach can expire. After a shelf life of six months, bleach starts to degrade. Even in its original bottle, bleach becomes 20 percent less effective as each year goes by.
- Bleach is more effective at killing germs when diluted than when used straight out of the bottle. Bleach mixed with water at a 1:9 ratio (i.e. 10 percent bleach) is potent for about a day (it is more unstable in its diluted form). For most uses, a ratio of nine parts water to one part bleach is recommended.
- Bleach is corrosive and can easily stain or destroy stainless steel.
- Bleach, when mixed with ammonia, can create toxic chloramine gases and an explosive called nitrogen trichloride.
So keep the bleach in trained hands only.
#2) Ammonia: We just discussed how dangerous ammonia can be around bleach. So with bleach probably in your boathouse remove any ammonia.
#3) Water Fountain: With our struggles with viruses today every shared surface is under suspect. And a water fountain can be pretty disgusting. The bowl can gross out the best of us, with yuk in there because some people spit before drinking.
And want to be really grossed out: a 13-year-old conducted an experiment that tested his school’s fountain water against the water from one of his school’s toilets. After letting bacteria incubate, he found that not even the cleanest fountain was as clean as the toilet.
So eliminate water fountains. BUT people will need water, so rig up a system so they can get water safely and easily, like this example.
#4) Broken Slings: There are two types of slings—those in excellent condition, and all-the-rest. You don’t want to use the second type.
As I’ve written about before, you’ve got a lot riding in your slings—let’s avoid a big let down. Take the marginal slings out of the boathouse until they get repaired or replaced.
Why remove them? Because the slings that belong in your BAD PILE will end back up in the good sling rotation, and next thing you know your primo-race-boat is fearing for its life as it sits in bad slings that should have been removed eons ago.
#5) Substandard Straps: Along that theme of bad things ending back up in the GOOD pile, boat straps are the Houdinis of the boathouse. You think they’re gone and…POOF…there they are—back on the trailer, with your primo-race-boat, once again, fearing for its life.
Bottom line—you don’t repair bad straps, you remove them. Gone. Far. Far. Away. Read here for more on your straps.
#6) Critter Homes: I already told you about my mouse-in-the-life-jacket scare. To add to that there have been:
- Bats in the workroom
- Rats in the riggers
- Blacksnakes in the eight
- Raccoons in the boat bay
- Alligators on the dock (yes…really)
- Geese on the dock (which probably attracted the alligators)
- Ducks in the launch
- Fire ants in the erg room
- Hornets in the megaphone
- And the list goes on-and-on…
We are an outdoor sport and work in open spaces and large areas. That means nature is always close at hand.
I recommend being as proactive as possible in reducing unwanted collisions with nature. Sometimes that means removing the critter (as humanely as possible, or just removing the potential attractions).
For example, we had to call in removal experts for the bats (which closed down the workroom for weeks) but we avoided more raccoon visits by proactively removing all food from the boat bays. (And per the alligators… we just let them do their thing.)
#7) Broken Oars: We like to think of oars as indestructible. They are tough, but bad things do happen to good oars. And a broken oar being rowed can cause all sorts of issues.
Oars are too awkward to use the two-pile system, so I suggest finding a place to put the oars that either need repair, or are beyond repair—but not in the oar rack, even with a note on it. Some rower-in-a-hurry-with-a-coach-on-the-dock-screaming-to-get-a-move-on will be all too tempted to grab any oar handy—broken or not.
#8) Hammer: You might need a hammer…once-in-a-while. But they (they being 99% of the people using the boathouse) DON’T need a hammer. So hide yours. Tuck it away in a locked toolbox, or in your car. Out of sight—out of mind.
#9) Locking pliers: Yes, yes, yes…locking pliers have their place in the boat house. The main reason why is they are helpful to remove broken screws or loosening frozen nuts—but only in trained hands. In other hands, locking pliers can cause a lot of damage.
One day I’ll share the story of the novice rower who used locking pliers to grab the threads of rigger bolts to push them through the gunwale. He successfully, in 5 minutes, stripped the threads on 32 stainless metric bolts. Quite possibly a world record!
#10) Non-stainless fasteners: Let’s just do this…gather up every non-stainless fastener in your boathouse and mail it to someone you know who lives more than 500 miles away. With no return address. Just take it to the Post Office and drive away.
Why? Most non-stainless fasteners rust, which in our environment means a-lot-of-rust—and a rusting fastener can cause all sorts of issues. So remove all non-stainless from the boathouse.
And if you find yourself with secondary rowing projects in which you are going to use non-stainless, like building shelves, remove those fasteners from easy access because they WILL mysteriously appear mixed in with your rowing equipment, and we DON’T want that!
#11) Carbon Fiber Shreds: Carbon fiber and fiberglass are used throughout rowing. And although tough they do break—leaving splinters. Those splinters can easily cut or embedded in skin, causing pain and possible infection. Remove all shreds to a safe areas and handle with care!
Action steps to improve your boathouse safety
There you have it, 11 things to remove from your boathouse immediately. As a review, here are several action steps to help you improve your boathouse safety:
- Bleach to be used by knowledgeable people only
- Remove ammonia and products that contain ammonia
- Replace water fountains with more sanitary water supplies
- Repair and replace all broken slings
- Remove substandard straps
- Relocate/remove critter homes and things that would attract critters
- Broken oars need to be removed from easy access, and repair or replaced
- Hammers and locking pliers should be used by knowledgable people only
- All non-stainless steel fasteners should disappear
- Remove all carbon fiber and/or fiberglass shreds