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Rules, Policies and Procedures

Rat island Rowing and Sculling Club is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization and contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Reorganization and Consolidation of RIRSC Rules, Polices and Procedures.

Approved by Board resolution December 12, 2011


I Code of Member Behavior

II Membership and Dues

III Board Qualities and Responsibilities

IV Financial Policies

V Guest Rowers

VI  Rower Education

VII Racing and Regattas

VIII Rowing

IX Safety launch

X Safety Launch Operation and Procedures

XI Use of Club facilities, Equipment, Vessels and Gear

XII Whistleblower Policy/Procedures

XIIa. Safe Sport Policy

I. Code of Member Behavior

A. Members should respect and value each other.

B. Members should be positive and supportive of each other

C. Members should not critique other rowers while in a boat, unless so requested.

D. Members should closely listen to and follow instructions from their coxswain.

E. Members should not engage in unnecessary conversation from the time of hands-on for launching until back on land, except during breaks on the water.

F. Members should always remember that only one person in the boat is in charge, and to follow that person’s directions.

G. Remember, we are here to have fun.

H. This policy should be posted prominently in the boat house, (top)

II. Membership and Dues

A. Membership dues shall be paid in full on or before the first day of April each year. Dues for the RIRSC rowing season are $250. The rowing year begins on April 1 and runs through March 31. People can pay early (before April 1) and receive a discount of $25, thus paying only $225. The dues stay at $250during April, May and June. In July, the dues drop to $200. In August, the dues are $150. In September and later, the dues are $100.

B. Alternate individual payment arrangements may be established by the Membership Chair.

C. Associate Membership for $75 includes the rights, privileges and responsibilities of members without voting rights, board membership or rowing rights unless a valid Pay-Per-Row Pass is purchased along with the Associate Membership.

2.11 Additional Classes of Members
A class of membership shall be called Associate members. Qualifications shall be the same as for Full Members as per Article 2, Section 2.2 Dues for associate membership shall be established by the Board. Associate members shall have all the rights and privileges of Full Members except they may not vote in Club elections nor serve on the Board nor row in Club rowing shells unless they have valid pay-per-row pass, as established by the Board, or as specified in RIRSC policy.

D. Paying associate members may purchase a card entitling them to 6 rows during the rowing year for $75. Such payment may be applied towards conversion to a full membership.

E. Any person not a Full Member who operates a Club safety launch, serves as a coxswain, participates in a Learn to Row Day activity, or is designated as an Instructional Assistant, shall be designated an Associate Member for the period of time of such activity. Pursuant to Article 2, Section 2.11 in the Club bylaws, these persons shall be Associate Members without dues. (Adopted June 20, 2011 and July 11, 2011).

F. A category of Student Member is available for full-time students who return home for the summer at a cost of $50.

G. Learn-to-row (LTR) class members shall be designated an Introductory Member for one (1) month following the completion, as specified by the class instructor, of their LTR class.

H. All students enrolled in the Juniors Rowing Program shall be designated Juniors members.  (top)

III. Board Qualities and Responsibilities

A. Important Qualities for Board Members of RIRSC

1. A passion for rowing

2. Ability to work well with others

3. Ability to listen to others

4. Personal integrity

5. Honesty

6. Civility, courtesy and a professional demeanor

7. Sense of humor

8. Sensitivity and tolerance towards differing views

9. Ability to participate in open and honest deliberations

10. Commitment to helping create a trusting environment in the RIRSC

11. Commitment to being accountable to the Board and to the membership

12. Commitment to the mission of RIRSC

13. Willingness to learn new organization skills

14. Willingness to work as a team with other board members, to make decisions as a team, and present a unified team position to the membership.

15. Commitment to transacting RIRSC business without imposing own Personal agenda.

B. Code of Behavior for RIRSC Board

1. Come prepared to the meeting. Have materials ready ahead of time.

2. Refrain from using judgmental statements

3. Talk about issues, not people.

4. Do not speak over others.

5. Do not criticize those who are absent.

6. Do not monopolize conversation.

7. Ask questions when you do not understand; there are no stupid questions.

8. Keep confidential information confidential.

9. Recognize when you have a conflict of interest, and disclose it to the group.

C. RIRSC Board Member Responsibilities

1. Attend meetings and functions.

2. Be informed about organization’s mission, policies and programs.

3. Review agenda prior to meetings.

4. Serve as liaison to committees–take responsibility and follow through.

5. Remain current.

6. Follow conflict of interest and confidentiality policies.

7. Preserve the integrity of RIRSC.

8. Set policy.

9. Support and promote the mission of RIRSC.

10. Comply with internal control policies.

11. Assume responsibility for fiscal stewardship.

D. RIRSC Board Member Conflict of Interest

1. What Constitutes a Conflict of Interest?

a. When a board member makes decisions out of financial self-interest.

b. When a board member makes decisions in the interest of only part of the institution instead of for the common good of the whole organization,

c. When RIRSC makes a transaction with a business or organization that has a financial connection with a board member or a board member’s family


a. Any board member who perceives a conflict-of-interest should (1) disclose the conflict to the board immediately and (2) abstain from any discussion or decision-making, including voting, in that area.

b. Each new Board member shall sign within their first month of Board membership a statement attesting that they have read, understand, and agree with the RIRSC Conflict of Interest policy, which shall be kept on file by the Board Secretary.(top)

IV. Financial Policies

Internal Controls

Separate authorization of payment for expenses from preparing and signing check by having responsible committee chair or board liaison sign.

2. All reimbursements to be requested on Club reimbursement form.

3. All checks in excess of $500 require two signatures.

4. All membership payments to the Club be processed separately by the Membership chair or secretary and the treasurer.

5. All internal record or all deposits include name of payer, purpose, date of check, check number and amount.

6. No payments to self.

7. At the conclusion of each fiscal year, an Audit Review Committee nominated by the president and approved by the Board, shall review all financial records for the previous year and present either a written or oral report to the Board about the adequacy of documentation for financial transactions and adequacy of financial reports.

B. Reimbursement requests for equipment, materials or other approved expenditures incurred by RIRSC members on behalf of RIRSC shall be submitted no later than one month after said expenditure.

No more than two learn-to-row classes per fiscal year may be donated to fund-raising efforts of not-for-profit organizations, with no more than one lesson allocated to any single organization. Donated lessons shall be reserved to organizations whose fundraising audience contains people who are likely to continue rowing beyond the end of the class and to become RIRSC members. It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee or another Committee as designated by the Board president to recommend recipients for a vote of approval by the Board.  (top)

V. Guest Rowers

A. Experienced Guest Rowers are welcome to row with RIRSC members.

B. Guests residing within the greater Port Townsend area shall be limited to three (3) guest rows per calendar year and then be invited to join the club. All other Guest Rowers rowing more than three (3) times per year shall be charged $20 per row.  Guest Rowers’ opportunities to row are based on seat availability.

C. No Club member shall take out Guest Rowers without knowing their skill level.

D. Guests rowing under the Guest Rowing Policy may not row without a Club member in the boat.

E. All guests must have signed the liability waivers for both RIRSC and U.S. Rowing before rowing RIRSC shells.

F. All Guest Rowers shall have a host member.
G. All Guest Rowers shall complete the information form indicating emergency contacts, rowing experience and skill level.
H. The board may make exceptions to Section V.B. on a case-by-case basis.

I.  To facilitate this policy, all potential Guest Rowers must contact a Guest Rower Liaison who will ensure that 1) the policy is communicated, 2) the guest is signed up on the daily spreadsheet, 3) a host is established, 4) waivers and emergency contact information are completed, 5) the Rowmaster is made aware of the guest and their skill level, and 6) that the Membership Chairperson is made aware of any potential new members.


VI. Rower Education

A. Rowing classes including novice classes offered by RIRSC must be approved by the Board of Directors. Any fees charged for the classes and any payment to instructors/coaches acting as independent contractors shall also be approved by the Board.

B. Refund of membership dues or monies charged for RIRSC classes shall be made on a case-by-case basis by the RIRSC Board of Directors. Refunds of deposits or payments made for classes which do not take place shall be automatic and will not require Board approval.

C. Coaching and/or instruction payments shall be the responsibility of the rower requesting the same. RIRSC equipment may be used for this instruction provided rowers receiving this instruction are RIRSC members. Use of RIRSC equipment for rowers other than RIRSC members must be approved by the Board of Directors.

D. No payment shall be made to members of RIRSC for services rendered on behalf of RIRSC unless that member is acting as an independent Contractor while performing said service and that payment is approved by the Board of Directors.

E. Payment of tuition and/or fees for coaching classes and workshops for the purpose of enhanced coaching and/or instruction skills shall not be paid unless the member agrees to providing coaching instruction free of charge to RIRSC members equivalent in value to the amount expended, within a year’s time after completing the course.(top)

VII. Racing and Regattas

In any race/rowing event whether in Port Townsend or elsewhere RIRSC members shall have first preference for seats in RIRSC leased and/or owned boats.

RIRSC rowers wishing to participate in races not sponsored by RIRSC shall be responsible for the payment of any required entry fees.

C. Several weeks before an event that is open for Club boats, a signup page on GoogleDocs will be posted for Club members, on a first come basis, to secure a seat in a selected boat. The Club president shall establish a deadline for open signup by Club members after which remaining seats may be assigned toqualified non-members. Qualified non-members may secure a seat in a boat even if they have already utilized their three guest rows for the Club program/fiscal year.

D. Transport of RIRSC leased and/or owned boats to out of town regattas may only be done with permission of the Board of Directors or a person designated by the Board. (top)

VIII. Rowing

Rowing is strenuous aerobic activity and requires the mental capacity to make sound decisions in stressful situations. All should be able to meet minimum requirements in order to participate in club rowing. (Preamble and Sections 6-11 added by Board action February 11, 2014)

A. General Requirements:

1. The use of all equipment leased or owned by RIRSC shall be on a first-come-first-served basis except that classes sponsored by RIRSC, and RIRSC-sponsored open rows shall have priority for the use of said equipment.

2. Boats and equipment may be reserved by any RIRSC team/group by including said reservation on the on-line rowing schedule.

3. All rowers must have signed liability waivers on file before rowing RIRSC shells, including the RIRSC waiver and the U.S. Rowing waiver.

4. All rowers must have attended a safety briefing and watched the U.S. Rowing Association safety video before rowing RIRSC shells. This is an annual requirement.

5. All rowers must pass a float test.

6. Demonstrated ability to lift a weight of 25 pounds from knee to eye. This is to help assure that rowers are able to participate in lifting the boats.

7. Demonstrated ability to erg continuously for at least 2000 meters in 15 This is to help assure that rowers can engage in normal length rows at average speed.

8. In addition to the above, participants may be required to obtain the club’s medical release from their doctor stating they are fit to row if they have or have had a serious injury or health issue or other condition that may impair cognitive and/or physical status.

9. Normally, the progression for those who have had a serious injury or health issue will be: a) row in a wherry with a strong, experienced rower, and demonstrate necessary rowing skills; and then b) row in a quad or eight with a willing crew of experienced rowers who could assess the rower’s ability to participate in open rows.

10. Other criteria may apply to disabled rowers, who may require adaptations depending on their disability

11. All rowers must participate in a shell maintenance briefing.

12. Personal flotation devices (PFD) are not required except in wherries. However, rowers who have a low tolerance for cold water temperatures should consider wearing a non-bulky PFD while rowing.(top)

B. Log Books:

1. Coxswains/bow rowers of RIRSC owned or leased boats must enter in the log sheet prior to departure the date and time, rowers, boat, and launch driver and report the time of return after completion of the row. The entry shall include a brief account of any accident or incident resulting in injury and shall be reported to the Safety Chair. Boat damage or malfunction reported to the Maintenance Committee to determine if the boat is seaworthy without repairs, and shall also be noted in the log.

C. Rowing Conditions:

1. No RIRSC boats will be taken out in the dark.

2. There must be ¼ mile of visibility before any Club boats can be used.

3. A boat traveling across Port Townsend Bay must remain in sight of shore.

4. All RIRSC shells must follow Safety Launch Driver directions regarding distance between shell and launch.

5. Shell crews should avoid congested areas and yield the right of way to larger less maneuverable boats.

D. Before the Row:

1. There will be a designated safety captain for each rowing session. The safety captain shall normally be the launch driver and if he/she is unwilling or unable, the most experienced coxswain present shall be the safety captain.

2. Shells shall be inspected and the position assignments and adjustments made prior to moving the shell to the water.

3. Coxswains should also give clear instructions to the rowers regarding the handling and movement of the shell at this time also.

E. During the Row:

1. Once the shell is placed on the water, rowers should enter it immediately and move at least 25 meters/yards from shore before tie-in or any equipment readjustments are made.

2. Upon completion of the row, the coxswain must stop the shell approximately 50 meters/yards from shore to prepare for landing. Rowers must free their feet from the foot stretchers at this time.

3. After landing, the shell shall be removed from the water immediately. To facilitate this, rowers shall place the oars no more than 15 feet from the waterline and immediately return to assist the other rowers with removing the shell from the water.

4. If a wake/wave approaches while the empty shell is on the water, the shell should be lifted out of the water if possible or moved to deeper water in order to avoid a breaking wake/wave.

F. Wherries:

1. Rowers using a Club wherry must wear or carry a PFD and a radio or cell phone in a waterproof bag when not accompanied by the safety launch.

2. Wherries may be rowed without a safety launch.

G. These policies and procedures shall be posted in the boat house. (top)

IX. Safety Launch

A. All RIRSC shells (except wherries) will have a safety launch with them at all times when they are out on the water, except at Lake Leland.

B. The motor launch will be equipped with enough flotation devices to rescue at least 9 rowers, a sound signaling device, current flares, first aid kit, space blanket, heat packs, warming head gear, basic tool kit, ladder, throwing rescue line, and small oars.

C. The primary purpose of the RIRSC safety launch is the safety of RIRSC rowers and shall only assist private shells accompanying RIRSC shells in an emergency.

D. Only persons certified to run the safety launch may do so.

E. Any team/group wishing to accompany the team that has provided for a safety launch operator shall adhere to the row plan established by the providing team and shall be self sufficient for its own team members and coxswains. F. If a RIRSC team/group or individual rowers wish to pay or compensate a safety launch driver, it shall be a personal choice.

G. A maximum of two passengers, whether guests or otherwise, may ride in the Safety launch with the Launch Driver during RIRSC sponsored rows. Non-RIRSC members must sign a waiver of liability before entering the launch. The launch driver retains the right of refusal of passengers during any Club rows. (top)

X. Safety Launch Operation and Procedures

A. The RIRSC Board of Directors has designated the Safety Launch Operator as the Safety Captain for each row. The duty of the Safety Launch Operator is to:

1. Provide forward looking eyes, watching for obstacles and traffic to notify the rowers in time to prevent collisions.

2. Increase awareness of shells to other boats, visually and with sound
actively protecting the rowers.

Provide resources in case of emergency with PFDs, radios and cell phones, tools, etc.

4. Coordinate immediate emergency response in case of capsize, man overboard, collisions, and medical emergencies. Transport and/or arrange communication to transfer care to EMS as appropriate

Assist rowers with mechanical problems in the shells.

B. The safety Launch Operator shall:

1. Be certified by: (1) reading and being familiar with policies IX, Safety Launch, and X, Safety Launch Operation and Procedures; (2) practice driving a launch; (3) being checked out by a person so designated by the Club president; and (4) signing the RIRSC and U.S. Rowing waivers.

2. Wear a PFD in the launch at all times and have a whistle or horn immediately accessible. Have with them while in the launch a VHF radio tuned to channel 16 and at sufficient volume to hear all radio traffic, and a cell phone.

4. Assure that the launch motor is operating properly and the launch equipment, including fuel, is present and functional prior to each row. Notify appropriate personnel and note on row log any conditions that make the launch unusable.

5. Confer with experienced coxswains and/or experienced rowers in order to determine whether to cancel a scheduled row due to unsafe water or weather conditions. Allowable wind, sea, and visibility conditions vary depending on type of boat being rowed, and experience level of rowers, but in general rows shall be cancelled with southerly winds in excess of 5 nots, or northerly winds creating whitecaps, or fog obscuring the ferry dock from the launching area.

6. Confer with coxswains concerning route and plan for differences in boat abilities and speeds. Shells should be within rapid launch distance, usually 500 yards. Typical routes are to the mill, Rat Island or to Pt. Wilson.

7. Act as the lookout for all RIRSC shells on the water and especially for uncoxed shells. Do not assume that a coxswain has seen an object in its path. If it appears that a rowing shell is on a collision course with an object, attract the coxswain’s attention by voice or whistle blasts and move the launch to a position between the shell and the object of danger if possible. Use hand signals to direct the shell in the direction it SHOULD go.

8. When traveling in the area of the Washington State Ferries, check to assure that the ferry is not ready to depart. Stop all rowing shells if a ferry is approaching or has loaded and is ready to depart. At no time should a shell race ahead of the ferry. Decide early and obviously to “give way” by presenting a side view of the shell out of the ferry path.

9. Monitor weather and water for changes including wakes, tides, wind and waves. Confer with rowers to determine whether a row should be altered, terminated or abbreviated due to conditions. Many alternate landing beaches are available in an emergency.

C. Rescue Procedures: Persons Overboard

1. Remain calm and assess the situation. In any situation you must first assure that those rowers who are safe continue to stay safe.

2. Approach the leeward side of the shell if possible. Turn off the engine. Use paddles and oars in close quarters with rowers in the water.

3. If possible, communicate with the crew as to your intentions and find out if there is an element to the situation that you have missed (e.g. was somebody hit in the head? Are there any complaints of chest pains, etc?)

4. If rowers are in the water, distribute PFDs immediately. In our climate, any rower unexpectedly in the water constitutes an emergency situation. Call early for assistance first on the radio and then cell phone, using radio script displayed on the side of the water tight supplies box. Assist rowers into the launch using ropes and ladders, taking care to keep the launch balanced.

5. If multiple rowers are in the water get lightest rower into boat first. Two people in the launch can then assist the next rower. Rowers in and out of the water should be on both sides of launch to help balance boat

6. If you approach with the motor running make sure to place the motor in neutral before beginning rescue. Preferably the person should be approached by rowing the launch to them.

7. Check for any injuries and hypothermia.

8. If necessary, take steps to warm the rescued persons by positioning them out of the wind and covering them with an emergency survival blanket and hot pack.

D. Rescue Procedures: Swamping or Collision

1. Always remember that boats can be replaced, people cannot. Get wet rowers to safety first and then return, with help, to salvage the boat and oars. Other boats in the area may respond to assist and could help with the rowers and/or the shell. Ferry crews may be able to assist rowers into their rescue boat.

2. Towing is never recommended but if limited options, drive launch in reverse with rower on the side of launch

3. If the shell can be bailed, pass out bailer to the rowers.

4. If the shell must be abandoned, notify the Coast guard of its location.

E. Rescue Procedures: Ill or Injured Rower

1. If a rower requires medical care due to illness or serious injury during a row, contact the Fire and Rescue Department by dialing 911 on the cell phone. If the cell phone does not function contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 on the VHF. The Coast Guard will alert the local Fire and Rescue Department. Identify yourself as the rowing club safety launch; give your location and a brief description of the injury or illness.

2. Return immediately to NWMC or head for nearest beach with afflicted rower, or if transfer from shell is inappropriate the ill rower should lie back with airway open as others row. Launch driver should contact EMS and arrange meeting location for transfer to ambulance. (top)

XI. Use of Club facilities, Equipment, Vessels and Gear

A. Privately owned boats and equipment that may be stored in the area rented by RIRSC may not be used by RIRSC members without first obtaining the owner’s permission.

B. RIRSC shall not be liable for any damage to privately owned boats or equipment stored in area rented, leased or sub-leased by RIRSC.

C. The Rat Island Rowing and Sculling Club (Club) Board of Directors may permit the use of leased or owned facilities, equipment, vessels or other gear provided that:

1. It is used for purposes consistent with the Club’s mission or in the Club’s interest.

2. It is not needed by the Club at that time for classes or other activities.

3. That the user signs a Use Agreement exempting the Club from any liability or exposure resulting from that use.

4. It is returned in as good a condition as when it was obtained or the Club is reimbursed for the cost of any loss, repairs or unusual wear and tear.

D. The Board may appoint a designee to sign a use agreement pursuant to XI.C. , above, as follows:

See Equipment Use Agreement

See Safety Policy for Lake Leland

XII. Whistleblower Policy/Procedures


RIRSC encourages board members, rowers and others related to the organization to report any violation of policy, procedure, or ethics, illegal activity, or other misconduct related to the organization. No person who in good faith reports a violation shall suffer harassment, retaliation or adverse consequence. Anyone who retaliates against someone who has reported a violation in good faith is subject to discipline.


Reports can be made directly to the board president or vice president or any special committee constituted by the board to receive and process such confidential information. To the extent that the activity or misconduct involves the president the report should be made directly to the vice president.

Violations or suspected violations will be submitted on a confidential basis by the complainant. Reports of violations or suspected violations will be kept confidential to the extent possible, consistent with the need to conduct an adequate investigation.

The recipient of a complaint will notify the sender and acknowledge receipt of the reported violation or misconduct within five business days. All reports will be promptly investigated and appropriate corrective action will be taken by the board if warranted by the investigation.