Running an organization with people from all kinds of backgrounds working in , on, and near the river requires procedures and policies which are extensive yet flexible.  These rules are 'live' in that they change as the club encounters new issues or changes in the environment.  

  • Section 1 : Safety Rules

  • Section 2: Safety Practices

  • Section 3: Equipment

  • Section 4: Launches

  • Section 5: Guest Rower Policies

  • Safe Sport Handbook

Safety Rules

Section 1

1.1 Driving and Parking in Shikellamy State Park

  1. Follow posted speed limit signs (15 mph) within the park

  2. Park only in designated parking areas

1.2 Dock usage

  1. All rowers must pay for dock usage. (See annual fee schedules)

  2. First rowers on dock daily shall clean any bird droppings off dock.

  3. Boats shall not be left unattended on dock.

  4. When other crews are waiting for dock space, tie in and adjust foot stretchers on the water.

1.3 Traffic Patterns

Around and North of the Island

  1. When leaving the CPRA Dock and heading north, remain on the island side of the river and go through the 2nd arches from the island of both bridges

    • Be aware of the buoy lines on both sides of the bridges

    • Watch for motor boats entering or leaving the river between the CPRA dock and the bridges

  2. When rowing ABOVE the island remain on the Sunbury side of the river, but with enough room for 1-2 boats between you and shore. When returning downstream, remain along the short on the Sunbury side of the river and go through the 5th arches from the island of both bridges (arches with the lights)

    • Be aware of the intake on the Sunbury side of the river downstream from the bridges

  3. When report AROUND the island, remain on the island side of the river going both up and down stream and go through arches 2 or 3 from the island of both bridges

    • Be aware of the buoy line and boats entering and leaving from the marina


Lake Augusta (between the island and the dam)

  1. We row in a clockwise pattern on Lake Augusta. Rowers always row with their “right side” toward the shore. Coxswains remember to keep your “left side” to shore. Port Side to the Shore!

  2. Observe the 1/3 rule when rowing. Divide the river into thirds, with the water intake marking the edge of the upstream 1/3. The upstream 1/3 of the river is to be used for rowing upstream along the Route 11/roadside. The middle 1/3 of the river is toward the Sunbury side of the intake. When returning to the boathouse, always stay in the middle 1/3 of the river (at least 30-40 meters from the Sunbury shoreline). The final 1/3 is along the bank on the Sunbury side of the river.

  3. Vessels with the least maneuverability have right of way, but should be cautious and take action to avoid all other types of boats.

  4. Non-powered boats have right of way over powered boats. REMEMBER: Pedestrians also have the right of way in a crosswalk, but it is no contest with a bus. You could end up dead right! Always give way or yield.

  5. Boats without coxswains have right of way over boats with coxswains.

  6. Launch and land with bow upstream.

  7. After launching, row upstream on the boathouse and road side of the river. Always go outside (Sunbury side) of the Northumberland Boat Club “No Wake” zone. Then remain west (port side) of intake.

  8. Pass under Northumberland Bridge using first through third arches on the west side. The deepest and safest arch is the third arch, which has red and green navigation lights located on the bridge.

  9. Return on east (Sunbury) side of intake, passing under Northumberland Bridge using fourth or fifth arches (the deepest). When the dam is inflated the water depth is not an issue, take care when going under the bridge!

  10. Take special care to avoid intake and any other buoys marking hazards .

1.4 Weather and Water Conditions

  1. Prior to rowing all rowers must make sure weather and water conditions are safe to row, to include but are not limited to the following conditions:

    • Water level must be above 8 feet and below 16 feet as measured at the Sunbury gauge (go to Sunbury gauge webpage).

    • .River current must be less than 60,000 cfs as measured at the Sunbury gauge (go to Sunbury gauge webpage).
      Exception: At a coach’s discretion and with a coach on the water, boats (especially bigger boats) may be out if the current is between 60,000 and 90,000 cfs.

    • Fog/ Visibility – Rowers must be able to see the opposite (Sunbury) river bank. If fog sets in while on the water, immediately return to the dock. Move slowly toward the dock and be prepared to stop quickly. Use your sound-making device (horn, whistle) to advise other boats of your location (1 long blast, followed by 2 short blasts).

    • Thunderstorms – stay off the water if lightning is sighted or thunder is heard and for 30 minutes thereafter.

    • Whitecaps - Do not row in whitecaps. If boats are already on the water when the water becomes whitecapped, return to the dock immediately.

  2. Be very observant if the south wind is blowing because the water can kick up and increase the danger of the water conditions very quickly. This is due to the wind blowing in the opposite direction of the water current.

  3. A coach on the water has discretion during coached rowing to make decisions about the above water and weather conditions.

  4. Board members have the duty, responsibility, and authority to override the coaches’ decisions/discretion

WATER CONDITIONS at Shikellamy State Park - The entry road to the park closes (floods) when the river reaches 16 ft. The boathouse itself shouldn't flood until until the river reaches 25-26 ft. 

1.5 Hazards

  1. No Wake buoys at marina

  2. Rock outcropping just north of moorage

  3. Water intake

  4. Remnants of the Pennsylvania Canal between the water intake and the bridge

  5. Shoreline extending out into the river below the bridge

  6. Shoreline is not straight, so be aware of shallow areas on the west side

  7. When the dam is up there is sufficient depth to row all the way to the power lines. The rowing pattern remains the same.

  8. When rowing above the bridge stay toward the west side of the river, but be aware of large branches and downed trees that stick out from the bank. Stay at least 25 meters from the shore.

  9. When rowing downstream below the bridge stay off the Sunbury side at least 30-40 meters. There are numerous rocks, shallow spots, deadheads, and sunken hazards.

  10. When returning to the dock, be aware there is a large delta just south of the CPRA building that extends out into the river. When the dam is inflated it is not a problem, but when the dam is down or the water is low, stay at least 60-70 meters from the west shore.

  11. North branch has rock outcropping on upstream end of island

Safety Practices

Section 2

2.1 General Rowing Rules

  1. All members, coaches, coxswains, and visitors/guests must sign a liability waiver before being allowed on the water and thereafter annually.

  2. All rowers must pass a swim test or wear an approved life jacket before being allowed on the water.

    • Those that are required to wear an approved life jacket because they have not passed the swim test MUST provide and wear their own life jacket at all times near or on the water.

  3. All rowers and guests must sign in and out of the logbook when using any club boats. Private boat owners are encouraged to use the logbook for communication of their whereabouts on the river and personal safety.

  4. If at all possible, do not row alone

  5. The coxswain should be the only person IN the boat giving commands. If no coxswain, the bow person gives commands, directs the rowers, and signs the logbook.

2.2 Clothing

  1. For visibility and safety, wear bright colors.

  2. Wear flexible clothing (no jeans).

  3. In cold weather:

    • Wear several layers of clothing. Fabrics should be breathable. Cotton should be avoided.

    • Wear a hat. Heat is lost quickly from the head.

  4. Wear a hat or visor in direct sun.

  5. Carry a water bottle in warm weather.

2.3   Commands

  1. Before getting into the boat, be sure you know in which seat, by number, you are sitting. 

  2. The following basic commands apply:  Bow and stern; port and starboard; tie in and untie; ready all, row; way enough; port (or starboard) to row, starboard (or port) to back. 

  3. The WAY ENOUGH – HOLD WATER command is used when there is an immediate need to stop rowing because of imminent danger.

2.4   Boathouse behavior

  1. No rowdy behavior, horseplay or any behavior likely to cause injury to persons or damage to property is permitted.

  2. No alcohol is permitted to be brought to or consumed on the premises or in any CPRA boat.

    • Alcohol is not permitted in State Parks.

  3. No weapons, knives (over 4 inches) or firearms of any description are permitted in CPRA facilities or equipment.

2.5   Emergencies

  1. DIAL 911

  2. Report the nature of the accident.  Be able to answer the following questions: 

    1. Your location

    2. How many people involved and/or missing

    3. Age and gender of people

    4. Victims breathing or conscious

    5. Is CPR being performed/required

    6. Time of incident

    7. How many boats involved

    8. Name of contact person and contact information

    9. Request ambulance as required

2.6   Additional Safety Guidelines

  1. A launch must accompany the use of any CPRA boat unless one-half of the crew has received proper certification to take out a boat unaccompanied.

  2. If by chance a boat flips or sinks, under no circumstances should a rower in the water leave the floating boat. If unable to reenter boat, swim with the boat to shore. EXCEPTION: You are faced with a worse life-threatening danger by staying with boat (for example: approaching dam). If the boat has flipped, the rower(s) must notify the coach and Equipment Chair. The boat’s condition will need to be evaluated prior to further use.

  3. If someone gives the command HOLD THE BOAT or WAY ENOUGH – HOLD WATER, respond immediately by stopping all forward movement and squaring the blades.

  4. Distress signals to communicate to other boats: Wave arms or a shirt overhead, use horn/whistle.

  5. Man overboard – Immediately call command HOLD THE BOAT or WAY ENOUGH – HOLD WATER and signal launch driver. Stroke seat removes an oar from the oarlock to throw to person in the water to use as flotation device.

  6. Shell swamped (taking on excessive water) or broken – unload boat by pairs, starting in the middle of the boat. Pairs should form “buddies” and keep watch on each other.

  7. Bow lights must be used before dawn and ½ hour or more after sunset.


Section 3

3.1 Use of CPRA equipment

  1. CPRA equipment is only to be used by CPRA members.

  2. Only rowers who have paid the “full membership” fee may reserve boats.

  3. All members must be checked out by the Coach to determine equipment they may use.

3.2 Rower’s Responsibilities:
Every rower is 100% responsible for the whole boat, to include the following: 

  1. Checking equipment before and after use for damage, and recording such damage in the logbook.

  2. Checking the location of boats on their racks before use so that they are returned to that location after use. Storing and securing shells on racks after every use. Do NOT rest the boats on riggers or the rower’s box.

  3. Adjusting their own foot stretchers (Rigging, seat slides, and oars may be adjusted only with a Coach’s permission).

  4. Cleaning boats after every use.

  5. Any damage or injuries should immediately be noted in the logbook and a red tag affixed to the equipment or area that is damaged or broken.

    • A verbal report of any equipment damage is required to be made to the Coach (if noticed by a member during a coached row) and subsequently to the Equipment Chairperson within 24 hours of the damage.

    • Thereafter, the member needs to complete an Equipment Damage Report Form (located in the logbook and on the website) and submit the Damage Report Form to the Equipment Chairperson.

  6. In the event that any boat has flipped or taken on water, the rower(s) are required to notify the coach and the Equipment Chair so that the condition of the boat can be evaluated prior to further use.

3.3 Additional rules

  1. Boats should not be left unattended in slings or on the dock.

  2. All club singles must be carried by 2 people.

  3. No privately-owned equipment may be used without permission of the owner.


Section 4

4.1 Use of launches

  1. CPRA members and Coaches are the only authorized users of CPRA launches.

  2. Non-CPRA members may operate a launch ONLY IF approved by a Coach or the Board.

  3. Launch gas tanks must be filled after EACH use immediately after return to dock.

  4. Any damage to launch must be noted in logbook.

4.2 Each launch must contain the following:

  1. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device for each person in the launch and each person in a boat not already carrying one

  2. A throwable rescue device such as an approved floating seat cushion or lifeline

  3. An efficient noise-making device

  4. An anchor with at least 50’ of anchor line attached to launch

  5. 20’ of line which has enough strength to tow a rowing shell or another boat

  6. At least one oar or paddle

  7. Lights if before sunrise or after sundown

  8. First aid kit

  9. Flashlight

  10. Communication device (radio or cell phone)

  11. Valid registration

Guest Rower Policies

Section 5

5.1 Guests of host member with previous rowing experience may use club equipment no more than 3 times per calendar year when accompanied by a hosting CPRA member.  The host member should notify the  President or designee at least 3 days in advance and provide the name  of the guest.

5.2 Visiting rowers with no host member should contact the President or designee, who may, at their discretion, allow the visitor to use club equipment. Visiting rowers may use the rowing equipment no more  than 3 times per calendar year.

5.3 All guests and visiting rowers must sign a waiver form and sign in the  logbook.  Members are expected to use discretion in choosing appropriate-level equipment for their guests, realizing CPRA members  have priority in equipment use.

5.4 Guests and visiting rowers are expected to follow all CPRA safety guidelines.

5.5 Members are liable for any damages caused by their guests.

5.6 Guests or visiting rowers will not be allowed to store their equipment in the boathouse area without the permission of the President or designee. 

5.7 Donations are gratefully accepted for the use of CPRA equipment