When moving a boat from the racks to the water, the two most important things are to make sure everybody is on the same page and to watch your surroundings. Don’t move until you’re sure everybody is ready; unless everybody moves together, you risk equipment damage. And just as you do on the water, always be aware of your surroundings. The boathouse and the docks can get crowded at the beginning of practice when everybody is launching, and it’s crucial to pay attention to keep your crew and equipment safe. Here are the basics of calling the movement of the boat on land:
Get your rowers to their positions:
"At your seats."
Usually, there's not enough room to have all the rowers on their rigger side while the boat is still on the racks. Have everybody stand at their seats all on one side. As soon as you call your crew to their seats, it’s time to focus and pay attention as if on the water.
If the boat is at about shoulder height or lower, call:
"One hand across.”
Everybody should be standing with one hand reaching across the hull, and one on the close gunnel.
If the boat is too high to get one arm over the hull, you’ll have to bring it off the racks by lifting it over heads. Rowers should stand at their seats underneath the boat with one hand on each gunnel:
Once all hands are in the right places, you’re ready to move the boat. Be sure to watch the rack above you! Often, the space you have to lift the boat off the rack is very tight; be sure not to hit the rack or the riggers of the boat above. Communicate what you see to your rowers; make sure they know what to look out for:
"Up an inch, ready, up. Bring it out, keep it low.”
"Watch the riggers up top.”
Now that the boat is off the racks, clear of any obstructions and in the middle of the bay, you can start calling your rowers to their proper sides. If you brought the boat out over heads or low heads, call them all the way up, and then straight to shoulders:
"Press it up, ready, up.”
"Split to shoulders, ready, down.”
If you brought it out with one hand across, everybody is still going to be on the same side, so if all rowers are on starboard side, call the ports under, and vice versa. Holding the boat at waists with one hand across, have the rowers go under the boat to their side one-by-one. Here’s how you might call it:
"All eight keep hands across. 8-seat, go under to your side.”
Wait until they’re all the way on their side, and they have one hand across.
"6, under; 4, under...” (and so on) until everybody is at their seat on the correct side. Once everybody is in the right place, you’re ready to move the boat out of the boathouse:
"Hands to your gunnel.”
"Up to shoulders, ready, up.”
"Walk it out of the house.”
Watch the riggers on the bay door as you walk the boat out, and make sure there are no obstructions in front of you. If your bay doors are too narrow to walk the boat out on shoulders, have one side go to waist and walk the boat out with the riggers canted at an angle:
"Port side to waist, and down."
"And walk it out."
Once you’ve walked your boat out of the boathouse, have your rowers face the bowball, and if you need to, swing the boat so you’re walking it with the bowball in front. This can be called any way you’d like, but here’s how you might do it:
"Face the bow. Swing the bow towards the dock. Walk it up.”
Walk at the front of the boat as you’re bringing it to the dock. When you need to bring it up and over heads will depend on the dock you have, but if there’s a ramp or a hill leading down to the docks, call it over heads before you start walking down it. Slowing your crew on a decline is the safest way to get to the dock:
"Slow it down by half, here."
Now that you’re on the dock, if you didn’t have to call the boat over heads before, do it now before you put it in the water. Here’s how you might call the boat onto the dock:
"Up and over heads, ready, up.”
"Toes to the edge, roll it down to waist, ready, down.”
"Push it out, watch the fin, and down.”
It’s crucial that the boat is pushed out far enough to clear the edge of the dock. The fin will break if it hits the edge on the way down. Make sure you're at the stern end and have your hand on the boat to push the fin away from the dock.
Once the boat is in the water, move quickly so you don’t hold up other crews waiting to launch. Have one side get the oars while the other side loosens the oarlocks. While the rowers are getting their oars in, plug in your CoxBox or CoxOrb and adjust your volume. Once everybody is ready, call the crew in. Make sure the outside has their oars shoved out:
"Push the oars out.”
"One foot in, and down.”
Wait until your crew is in, and then get in yourself.
If there’s a line to launch, have your rowers tie-in once you’re off the dock. If you have room, shove off and row away from the dock by fours. If not, walk the boat down, get your point with your bow pair, and row by fours. Have the four that’s not rowing tie-in, and then switch to give everybody a chance to tie-in, check their oarlocks and adjust equipment as needed.