Bay SafetyTake Care of #1

Take Care of #1

There is no substitute for good judgement. Before you go out, give yourself or get a briefing on the tides, currents and expected weather including the forecast winds for your time of travel.

What to Wear

The clothes you will want to wear depend on the type of vessel you are in, the exercise you plan to do, and your likelihood of getting wet.

As a general guide, San Francisco Bay is rarely warm. Dress in layers, and be prepared to get wet. If you’re rowing a wooden boat you are likely to stay mostly dry, but may get splashed. If you are rowing shells, kayaking, paddling it’s much more likely you will get wet.

Summer months (May-Oct)

In the summer months, the water is warmer – often in the low 60s, and getting splashed or falling in is less of an issue. But it’s still an issue. You’ll want to dress in layers with synthetic clothing.

Winter months (Nov-May)

In November as the days get shorter, water temperature starts to fall and it’ll typically go from 60 degrees at the end of October to 50 degrees by the end of December. Those ten degrees make a big difference, and with cooling air temperatures you’ll need to rethink your wardrobe.

Kayakers and paddlers may want to start thinking about wearing wetsuits and booties. Shell rowers may need leggings and extra layers. Heavy rowing boat users may add sweaters.

If you’re out piloting a swim, you should dress much warmer than you might otherwise do, since you’ll be going slowly for a long time and not generating body warmth. When piloting swims, prepare to be cold.

Here’s some good guidance on what to wear from 101 Surf Sports

Life Vests / PFDs

Life vests or ‘Personal Flotation Devices’ PFDs are an important part of your safety. Please bring a life vest with you when boating from the club. The club has different types of PFD available that will suit different people for different activities.

<< Video & Pictures >>

  • Basic Life Vests – Nice to have in Boat
    These orange life vests are really for emergency use only. They are not comfortable to wear while you are paddling or rowing, and will get in the way of operating a boat. But they are good to have on board in case you may need to rescue someone.
  • Type III Life JacketsKayaking & SUPs
    These types of vest are more comfortable for day to day use, and are particularly good for kayaking. If you fall in, they provide flotation without you having to think about it. They also help keep you warm on cold days. However they are bulky in the front and their design interferes with rowing.
  • Inflatable life vestsRowing Whitehalls & Motorboats
    These are lightweight and compact and will inflate when you tug on the red pull handle at the bottom left. Inflatable vests are compact to wear and good for motor-boating and rowing the wooden boats where you do not expect to fall in the water. However, they are not great for shell rowing as the loose panels can catch on an oar. They are not great for kayaking either – when inflated they actually make it harder to get back on a boat.
  • Fanny pack inflatable life vests – Rowing Shells & SUPs
    These inflatable life vests are contained in a small pouch that attaches to your waist. They are unobtrusive and easy to wear, but the disadvantage is that they are not actually on you when you need them. You inflate the lifevest and then have to attach it. They would not help in a dire situation where you are struggling to stay above water. They are not recommended for use in difficult conditions or for weak swimmers…. but if you are a strong swimmer and rowing shells, or paddling SUPs these might work well for you.
  • Wingman life vests – Rowing Shells
    These new inflatable vests are ideal for shell rowers that struggle

Life vests only helpful if you are wearing them. The inflatable vests are low profile and light to wear.

Other Safety Gear

  • Whistle / Noise-maker
    A whistle enables you to attract attention. Great for warning a swimmer, or calling for help. If you fell in the water and couldn’t get out, a whistle may just save your life.
  • Bright Clothing
    A kayaker or rower between the waves can be hard to spot by other boaters or ships from far away. Do others a favor and make yourself visible with bright colored clothing.
  • Marine Radios
    Marine VHF Radios allow you to call for help, and check in with other boaters on the water. They are recommended for out-of-cove boating.

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