I took the Learn to Row class offered by the Lookout Rowing Club here in Chattanooga back in July, but rowing a sculling shell and cameras don’t mix well.
At long last, I got my husband out to the rowing center to help do some shooting. In these shots, I am demonstrating some of the basic skills we learned in the class: carrying the boat by yourself, getting into the boat without falling in, getting off the dock without falling in, and rowing without falling in.
Note the “without falling in.” That is an important qualifier. A sculling shell is a long and narrow boat; the fact that it doesn’t roll all the time is a denial of physics (and the result of long oars that float on the water’s surface).
In fact, during the first class in which we got into boats and pushed off the dock, I was the only person in my class who didn’t end up in the water, including the instructor. This is such a remarkable fact that I have to think that perhaps I was born to be a rower. After all, I once scraped my face eating a breakfast bar; the odds that I would be the only one to make it through the class without falling in at some point are pretty astronomical.
I did not fare so well on learning how to carry the boat. In fact, I found that to be the most challenging part of the class. It was also something I was determined to master because I knew I was going to be coming out to row by myself early in the morning and there was no way I was going to ask anyone for help.
First, I tried carrying the boat on my shoulder instead of my head. I thought this would be more stable and give me better control over the boat. It did. However, I couldn’t see one entire side and I kept running into things like railings, buildings, other boats, and occasionally other people.
I eventually found carrying the boat on my head gave me much better visibility and the only time I ran into things was trying to put the boat back onto the racks. I eventually learned to carry the boat in and out of the boathouse on my hip, place it on the slings out front, and then put it on my head to walk to the dock. So far, I haven’t broken anything.
On this day, as I was rowing, my port oar popped out of the oarlock. I was pretty proud that I managed to get the oar back into the oarlock without tipping the boat. This is no easy feat–the oars are like training wheels and keeping both of them on the water evenly keeps the boat from rolling over. For some reason, my husband didn’t shoot my amazing dexterity. Maybe he was waiting for the moment when I would fall in?