Ferry Wash Safety Alert
In the last 18 months, we have seen an increase in the number of incidents involving damage to boats caused by large ferry washes. Racing eights in particular, due to their length, have very high stresses placed upon them in large waves and washes. Across a range of manufacturers we have seen severe hull damage and/or broken section joins, putting crews in a potentially dangerous situation.
Those who row in Sydney around the harbor are used to contending with large ferry washes, however it’s often difficult to negotiate the wash safely and avoid damaging the boat. The frequency and speed of the ferries in Sydney have increased in recent years. Recently in Melbourne we have seen the trial of a new increased ferry speed limit in an area frequented by rowing boats. In its first month of trial, we have seen firsthand the damage these washes can cause.
There are some simple strategies that we recommend if you do get put in this situation.
- If possible, avoid rowing in areas or in conditions where large waves or washes occur.
- If you see a fast-moving vessel approaching, don’t panic. If there is a large wave or wash approaching then get the crew to act early. Position the boat so that it is parallel to the wavefront and tilt the boat so that it is lower on the side furthest from the wave. Do not panic. This will reduce the amount of water that enters and place the least amount of stress possible on the hull.
No rowing hull is designed to row through large washes but by being prepared and acting early you can keep the crew safe and minimise the risk of damage to the boat.
For further information on rowing in large ferry washes, please see the below safety alert from British Rowing.