1.1 Safety of all club members is the number one priority in helping all members paddle/steer/drum in a rewarding and secure environment.
1.2 This manual is to be used primarily by the Steerspersons, Coaches, Team Captains and Drummers, as a guide, to train all members of the Haliburton Highlands Paddlers (HHP) about “Dragon Boat Safety Guidelines.”
1.3 A Steersperson, Coach, Team Captain and Drummer:
1.3.1 Ensures the safety of a team on the water during practice and during any festival by following the established procedures, as stated herein.
1.3.2 Ensures a crew/team does not jeopardize the safety of other vessels on the water during training and races.
1.3.3 Teaches the team to be responsible in meeting the above two (2) goals.
Everyone has a responsibility for “SAFETY”.
1.4 The Steersperson, coach and drummer are in control of the dragon boat and are in the best position to make decisions involving safety (i.e. determining whether the boat and crew remain on the water, or return to dock, or head for calmer water, etc).
2.0 Definitions & Terms
2.1 Boat Patrol – Rescue and patrol boat in the area – OPP patrol boat.
2.2 Bow – front of the dragon boat.
2.3 Buoy – a floating marker that is anchored to the bottom of the lake/reservoir; mooring buoys are attached to a boat when it is not being used for a practice or race, or used to mark lanes/areas.
2.4 Gunwale – upper side edge of the dragon boat.
2.5 Mooring Rope – rope that is located at the bow and stern of the boat to tie the boat to the docks, or to a mooring buoy in the lake/reservoir.
2.6 PFD – Personal Floatation Device; must be coast guard approved life jackets and properly fitted.
2.7 Stern – back of the dragon boat.
3.0 Member Personal Safety
3.1 CSA approved PFDs must be worn in the proper manner at all times while in the dragon boat and on the dock.
3.2 Each member should be able to swim and be comfortable in water. If not, that member must alert the Team Captain and Coaching Group.
3.3 Each crew member is solely responsible for his or her own safety at any time while engaging in activities related to practising and racing in the dragon boat.
3.4 Any injuries occurring as a result of participating in the practices or races must be reported immediately to the Coaching Group.
3.5 The Haliburton Highlands Paddlers Safety Rules and Regulations must be observed at all times during practices and where applicable, during races.
4.0 Water Traffic
4.1 We give right-of-way to ALL vessels to ensure our safety.
4.2 Quiet Vessels
The vessels listed below are naturally powered (i.e. no engine). You may not hear them approaching, so it is important to be aware and understand their characteristics (stability, speed and hazards).
- Decreased visibility around the sail and mast
- Steering control decreases in high winds
- Do not assume skilled sailors
- Assume all skill levels from novice to expert
- There is no rule or regulation constraining the direction or use of a canoe vessel.
- Kayaks can change direction very quickly and for the most part are stable vessels
- A large majority of kayak users are recreational kayakers and may vary in skill level
Rowing Boats (Shells)
- Shells are very light and unstable boats. Rowers must constantly adjust their course according to water and wind conditions. Do not assume that shells always travel in straight lines
- Rowers look the opposite way they are traveling. Their backs are facing the direction of travel
- Even if there is a Cox (person who steers the shell or calls out rowing rhythm), they are situated very close to the water level so the individual cannot always see clearly
- Rowers often do interval training, so expect various speeds. Remember, shells can accelerate to high speeds very quickly
- Various “learn-to-row programs” are conducted throughout the season. Do not expect a novice rower to move out of your way
Stand Up Paddle Board
- More and more paddle boarders are out on the Highlands waterways
- At times they are unstable and not quick to change course
4.3 Motorized Vessels (with Engines)
Coach Boats and Boat Patrol
- Coach boats may be seen following racing canoes, kayaks, and shells
- Boat Patrol is the main safety boat operated by the OPP, and is responsible for enforcing rules and regulations
These Motorized Vessels Can Be Seen in the Highlands
- Fishing boats
- Pontoon boats
- Recreational power boats
- Water ski boats
- Give right of way to these vessels to ensure dragon boat safety
5.0 Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Use and Care
5.1 Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) must be worn at ALL times while on the docks, in the canoe or dragon boat. There are absolutely NO exceptions to this rule.
5.2 To ensure safety for yourself and your team, please select the proper size of PFD based on your body size and type. If unsure, please check with your Team Captain, Coach or Equipment Manager.
5.3 DO NOT sit or rest on PFDs. The added compression to the PFDs will decrease the PFDs buoyancy.
6.0 Procedure For Loading and Unloading a Dragon Boat
6.1 Loading and Unloading a Dragon Boat (Coach to Coordinate and Execute)
6.1.1 Roster team on shore in the order of rows prior to walking down to the dock.
6.1.2 Have team walk down to the dock, maintaining this line up.
6.1.3 Prior to loading or unloading, ensure the dragon boat is tied at both the bow and stern.
6.1.4 Maintain this line up on the dock next to the boat (or on the land if so instructed).
6.1.5 Load and unload the boat by seat as instructed by the coach/steersperson.
7.0 Chain of Command
7.1 Always obey the CHAIN of COMMAND.
7.2 1st in Command – Steersperson
7.3 2nd in Command – Coach
7.4 3rd in Command – Team Captain
8.0 Checking Boat Balance
8.1 Coach and Steersperson Will Coordinate and Execute the Following:
8.1.1 After all paddlers have boarded the boat, the mooring ropes are untied.
8.1.2 Request paddlers to push off from dock using their hands. DO NOT use the blade end of the paddle. Let the dragon boat come to rest.
8.1.3 Ensure everyone is next to the gunwale and sitting straight up.
8.1.4 Check the balance.
8.1.5 Have paddlers move positions as required to balance boat.
8.1.6 Once the dragon boat is balanced as well as possible, commence with the practice.
9.0 Seat Changes within a Dragon Boat
9.1 Coach and Steersperson Will Coordinate and Execute the Following:
9.1.1 The Steersperson and the Coach will try to balance the boat prior to boarding. Drummer and Steersperson will make required changes to seating arrangement, if there is an imbalance after the boat has been loaded.
9.1.2 If paddlers need to move to another seat, “hold” (stop) the dragon boat.
9.1.3 All paddlers must “feather the water” while the dragon boat is at a complete stop. This keeps the dragon boat stable from side to side (left to right). Continue to “feather the water” until the coach instructs the paddlers to stop.
9.1.4 One paddler at a time, as instructed by the coach, shall be moved within the dragon boat.
9.1.5 Once all the seat changes are made, coach instructs the paddlers to release “let it ride” and practice continues.
10.0 Dragon Boat Rescue Procedure
10.1 Swamped or Capsized Dragon Boat during a Practice or Race
10.1.1 Once a dragon boat begins to capsize, it is very difficult to stop it. If you are on the higher side of the boat when it begins to go over, try to jump clear of your seat partner to avoid injury to her/him.
10.1.2 If you come up under the boat, it will be dark, but there will be an air pocket available for you to catch your breath and get your bearings.
10.1.3 Feel your way to the side of the boat and then surface on the outside. All individuals MUST stay with the dragon boat. Hold the dragon boat gunwales to help remain with the dragon boat.
10.1.4 The “Buddy System” (see 10.2) will be utilized – all paddlers must ensure their seat partner is present. The coaching pod will be “buddied” up with each other. The Coach, Steersperson or Captain will initiate a head count (i.e. roll call of the paddlers in their seated rows). The total number of paddlers in the capsized dragon boat must equate to the number of paddlers at the start of each practice. If a member is missing, refer to Section 10.3.
10.1.5 Next in Command (see 7.0 for chain of command) to determine if any person(s) is injured or requires immediate assistance.
10.1.6 Once all paddlers are accounted for, stay calm and stay with the boat. Next in Command to use whistle to attract attention from individuals on shore or in other vessels. A dragon boat in distress is easily recognizable. If needed a 911 call will be made.
10.1.7 Next in Command will notify the 911 if any person(s) requires immediate assistance. Help those in need to the patrol boat first.
10.1.8 Boat Patrol will remove the paddlers from the water as soon as possible. They may shuttle groups to the nearest shore or to the dock depending on the distance.
10.1.9 Boat Patrol will tow the dragon boat to the dock. Any able bodies should be available to assist in removing water from the dragon boat.
10.2 The “Buddy System”
10.2.1 Know the person paddling in the seat next to you. In the event of an incident, you are responsible for ensuring that your partner is present and assess whether they are injured.
10.2.2 Each person is also assigned a row number from 1 to 10 before loading onto the dragon boat. The Next in Command can initiate a roll call to account for everyone in the dragon boat.
10.2.3 The coaching pod (steersperson, coach, drummer) will be “buddied” up with each other – responsible for ensuring the pod is accounted for, and assess for injuries.
10.3 Missing Individual “Find and Rescue Procedure”
10.3.1 Have paddlers look and feel around for the missing paddler(s) in their immediate vicinity without leaving the dragon boat.
- Each paddler to feel under the boat, within their immediate proximity, to see if the missing paddler is under the boat.
- If necessary, one individual ONLY, should check under the boat to ensure the missing person is not trapped underneath. This one individual will be assigned by the Next in Command.
- Notify Boat Patrol as soon as they arrive, of missing person(s), if person(s) is/are not found by then.
- Once Boat Patrol arrives, the Boat Patrol is in control of the situation now and the only contact between the team and the patrol is the Next in Command.
- Swimming to Shore in the Event of a Capsize or Swamped Dragon Boat
- This option can ONLY be exercised if the dragon boat is located approximately 50 metres away from shore.
- Once the entire team is accounted for, a TEAM decision can be made on whether to stay with the dragon boat and wait for Boat Patrol, or swim to shore.
10.4.4 If ANY individual on the team is not comfortable swimming to shore, the entire TEAM shall remain together with the dragon boat. If the decision is to swim to shore, a head count is required on shore to ensure the entire team is accounted for.
- Weather, Wave and Wind Patterns
- Prior to each outing, the coach is responsible for checking the local weather forecast. If there are any weather related concerns the practice will be canceled.
- If the coaching pod does not have the experience/skill necessary to ensure a safe practice, the team does not go out onto the lake. The Coach can decide not to proceed with practice based on weather and the following considerations:
− Steersperson’s level of experience and confidence
− Paddlers’ level of experience and confidence
- Wave and Wind Patterns
11.3.1 Direct side waves are most dangerous for swamping/sinking the boat. As water goes over the side/gunwale, the respective side of the boat begins to sink, letting in even more water.
- Be aware of heavy crews in waves, as they are already sitting low in the water.
11.3.3 Head winds are less likely to sink the boat but will make it difficult getting back to the dock. If you are paddling with a novice crew, it may take a long time. Do not panic and force the crew to get back to dock faster. Remain calm and encourage the crew with a steady paddle.
- When the boat becomes unstable, some paddlers will panic and stop paddling. This will cause even more instability to the boat. Encourage paddlers to continue paddling to minimize the chance of swamping/capsizing.
- Steersperson should be familiar with how to compensate for the wind/waves. It is best to orientate the dragon boat with or against the direction of the wave, to avoid the waves hitting the dragon boat on the sides.
- When severe weather is approaching get off the water immediately.
12.0 Mandatory Dragon Boat Equipment Required on Board During Practice
- The Dragon Boat Must Contain the Following Equipment at All times During a Practice or Race:
12.1.1One (1) bailer located underneath the last row.
- Two (2) whistles, atttached to the lifejackets.
- First Aid Kit, a list of 911 addresses and a map, placed in a dry bag.
- Cell phone
- On shore, the coach will have a binder with all participants’ emergency contact and medical information
13.0 Reference Material