Check weather predictions before you leave home. Keep an eye on the weather before and during practice. Check for rough water in the middle of the basin as you look from the docks.

For the latest water and air temperature, give these links a click:

Baltimore Inner Harbor weather

Patapsco River Bouy at Ft McHenry

Do not row, or come in immediately if you notice any of the following

  • a small craft advisory is issued
  • thunder or lightning
  • whitecaps
  • waves slopping half way over the dock or more
  • wind or rough water becomes too much for your skill level and the size of your boat



Generally the shore from which the wind is blowing will provide shelter so that you can row there. Be sure the wind is not so high that you cannot make it to the sheltered area. Familiarize yourself with the "Windy Day" traffic pattern (see Traffic Pattern Section of the Website).

Do not go out in high or increasing wind. Coaches will evaluate conditions for their classes, and if you are on your own, launch only if you are confident that you and your boat can handle any rough water.

Water Conditions Probable wind speed @ surface Rowing Conditions
Smooth surface to small steady chop 0-8 mph Safe for practice; novices may require docking assistance.
Medium to large chop with frequent small white caps 10-12 mph Inexperienced crews, especially novices, should not go out.May be manageable, but not good, for an experienced crew in big boats, depending on wind direction. Use Windy-Day Traffic Pattern.Assist boats in landing unless dock is sheltered.
Small craft advisory, steady chop and rolling whitecaps, waves slopping over half of dock. Over 12-15 mph No crews go on the water. If such conditions come up during a row, terminate and return to the boathouse. If that is not possible, take shelter at the nearest point. Secure equipment if it is safe to do so. For possible landing points, see Thunderstorms.




Come in at the first sight of lightning or sound of thunder. If you are too far from the boathouse and the storm comes up quickly, take shelter. Always take care of people first, secure equipment only if it is safe to do so. If you are under the bridge and can not get to the boathouse safely, stay there.Wait at least a half hour after that last thunder or lightning before you go back on the water.


Heat and Cold


In cold weather: wear a hat, a water-win-proof outer layer, and insulating layers under it. The inner layers should wick moisture away from your body and remain warm even when wet. Coxes dress warmly.

We row even when it is cold. Dress for it. Wear a hat, a water-wind-proof outer layer, and insulating layers underneath. The inner layers should wick moisture away from your body and remain warm even when wet. Coxswains will usually require warmer clothing than rowers.

Apply the "Four Oars Rule":  If the combined water/ambient air temperature does not total 90 degrees (F) or greater (with water temperature at least 45 degrees) a BCR boat must use at least four oars to ensure a minimum of stability in the water. Drink water even if you aren't thirsty. (See Cold Emergencies)

Because water is very good at transferring heat from your body, body heat is lost much faster in cold water than in cold air. Water that is 65 F (18 C) — a relatively mild air temperature — can lead to hypothermia very quickly. If you row over such water, wear a life jacket and/or wetsuit that covers at least your torso. Row within a hundred feet of shore. Row with other boats. Be aware that being able to swim in warm water does not mean you can swim in cold water. See Emergencies.


In hot weather, help prevent heat cramps, exhaustion, or stroke--carry at least a quart (liter) of water and drink often even if you are not thirsty. Wear light clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen.

Baltimore summers are hot. Check the temperature before you leave home, and prepare for it.  Bring at least a quart (liter) of water in your water bottle. Drink often even if you are not thirsty. Wear a protective hat, light clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Take care to avoid dehydration and prevent heat cramps, exhaustion, or stroke. Come in if you feel light-headed, overheated or exhausted. (See below, Heat Emergencies)

Following FISA Guidelines, if the heat index is over 100 degrees, it is strongly recommended - and we strongly encourage - crews to practice on land. The age, health and physical fitness of the crew should be taken into account. If a crew does launch when the heat index is over 100 degrees, practice should be light and duration short.

Other Outdoor Considerations


Be seen, be heard, do not hit anything. When you row in the dark, ALL boats MUST have working lights: Bow lights are red-for-port, green-for-starboard, and the stern light is white. Be certain you are completely familiar with the traffic patterns and locations of the channel markers in daylight so you can give the markers a wide berth and adhere strictly to the traffic pattern in the dark.

Proceed with particular caution when there is trash in the water after a rain.

Be extra alert to other shells and watch for all oncoming traffic, particularly near the dock where traffic is dense.


When fog rolls in, come back to the boat house. Make noise to alert others of your presence.

If fog becomes too dense before you can make it back, plan to follow the shore slowly back to the boathouse. Sit still, listen, row for a bit, sit still, listen again for other boats. If you are disoriented, sit still. Continue making noise.

Bright Sunlight

Wear a hat with a brim to shade your eyes, wear sunglasses.


Usually rain is not a problem. If it is cold, though, dress for it. Bring dry clothing for after practice.