An excerpt from


Originally Compiled by the Revd J G Wood.


The undated book was in the possession of my uncle, born in 1900.  Other editions were published around 1890.

However I think on internal evidence the rowing section dates from earlier than this (outriggers accepted, but slides not even mentioned) that this would place it later than 1847 and earlier than 1867.  John Wood was born in 1827 so it would seem reasonable that his boating experience dates from around 1850.  He was in Oxford from 1844 to 1878.  The distinction between pleasure boat rowing and racing rowing was much less clear than it is in modern times.



INTRODUCTION,— When sitting down to teach the art of Rowing, we must confess that, had it been possible, we would rather have taken up an oar than a pen. First impressions, however, are not always to be depended upon: in this very instance, we are not at all certain that we cannot give a good deal of information and  do a considerable amount of good even with the instrument to which we have been  reduced.
If you know little or nothing about river-rowing, we may inspire you with a desire to excel in that noble art; we can prevent you from acquiring a faulty style and bad habits which are so fearfully difficult to drop; we can put you up to the boating vocabulary, so that, though quite a young hand, you will be able to avoid blunders which would turn a laugh against you. We can describe to you all the different classes of boats on the river, so that you will know what they are called, and what they are used for, when you see them; and when you hear people talking about “tubs”, “canvasses”, “whiffs”, &c., you will know what they are speaking about; and, finally, among other things, we can even if you are somewhat of “an oar”—give much information which will he most useful to you when on the river, and which, if you have not been taken regularly in hand by a waterman, you must have had very little chance of obtaining. You cannot always have a professional waterman at your elbow, but you may easily carry the following advice in your mind.


PRELIMINARY REMARKS.—Rowing is one of the most useful of the outdoor sports, as it is far more than a mere pastime, and ranks almost on a par with swimming. It is the most healthy of all exercises, as good rowing exercises every part of the body equably and at the same time; and if the rower is in a good state of health, and his strength is not over-taxed, it can not only do him absolutely no harm, but much good; and all violent exertion is hurtful to those of a weak constitution. However, it is not “boat-racing” which we wish to recommended, as that may be, and often is, carried to too great an excess, but the art of “boating,” from which you will derive pleasure, and acquire skill, health, and strength. Before learning how to row, it is essential that you should know how to swim. Boats are liable to be upset even when in the most experienced hands, and any one unable to swim not only risks his own life, but seriously endangers those of others. Many of the rowing-boats on a river are so exceedingly light, or cranky as they are called, that a young oarsman, as he takes his place in one, cannot but feel that an upset is not an unlikely occurrence. The knowledge that he would sink like a stone in such a case would not by any means be an assistance to him in learning how to row skillfully and fearlessly. Almost the same arguments might be used as to the expediency of becoming a good “waterman,” that is, mastering everything connected with river navigation, as well as becoming a good “oar”. You may get into many an awkward fix on the river which, unless you are an old hand or have the necessary skill, will more than likely end in a ducking, a thing to be avoided under any circumstances. Try and avoid being on the water either too early in the day, when the morning dew is unwholesome, or too late, when the heavy evening mist is equally objectionable. Darkness is infinitely more dangerous on the water than on the land: however well you may know the river, only skill will save you from being run down. Changing your clothes, both before and after rowing, is of great importance. “Flannels”—as boating costumes are called —show what you should wear. These should be taken off as soon as possible; and if you are not too tired, a good sponge over, or even a dip in the stream, is a wholesome thing to do before resuming your ordinary dress.

We shall restrict ourselves in this paper entirely to rowing on fresh water for it is scarcely any exaggeration to say that on a river you see good rowing and bad sailing, and on the sea good sailing and bad rowing.

The popularity of rowing is remarkable, it seems so unmistakably a true British pursuit; and yet the first inter-University match was only in 1829; and boating trips, of which there are now dozens every year, were almost unheard of ten years ago. England is almost the only country in Europe in which one style of river-rowing is universal. On the Continent, standing up, forward rowing appears to be a very common method of propulsion, We also use much lighter boats than our neighbours across the Channel; but here again this is quite a modern practice: the earlier matches between the two Universities were rowed in heavy boats, and it was not until 1846 that out-rigged boats were used. Inconceivably light as are some of our racing boats (a wager sculling-boat only weighs an average of 38 lbs.), there is this to be said in their favour, that they enable skill and science to compete on even terms with superior weight and strength.


Before describing all the different classes of river-boats, it will be best to begin with the model of an ordinary pair-oar GIG or DINGY

References to Numbers

1. Stem or Cutwater

5. Stroke Thwart

9. Yoke and Yoke-line

2. Painter

6. Stroke Rowlock

10. Rudder

3. Bow Thwart

7. Stem Thwart

11. Extra Rowlocks for double sculling

4. Bow Rowlock

8. Chain-Rail



The other parts of a boat, which cannot well be shown in the model, are

The Thole

That part of the rowlock against which the oar rests while pulling.

The After-Thole

or Stopper

The opposite side of the rowlock.



support the tholes.


The leather at the bottom of the rowlock.

The Keel

A long piece of wood running along the bottom of the boat.


The planks with which a boat is built.


Those [planks] nearest the keel,


The top straik.


Above the gunwale; seldom used in river-boats.


Against which the feet of the oarsmen rest.


support the stretchers,

The Lands

The inside supports of the-boat.


Pieces of wood which fasten the thwarts to the boat.

Burthens or Bottom-boards.

The flooring at the bottom of the boat.


The space between the coswain and stroke’s seat.

The Waist.

Between the midship and forward thwart.

The Stern-post

fits into the keel, and on it is hung the rudder.


attach the rudder to the stern-post,


Square-sterned boats are made with one.


A long piece of wood tapering off at the sides, and placed at the lans of the second and third straik, counting from the keel.


Where one straik overlaps the other.


The planking of a boat.


comprises yoke, yoke-line, and rudder.



The name given to the rower who sits on the forward thwart in a four or eight-oar;

he would also be called No, 1


The sternmost oar in a boat in a four or eight-oar;

No. 8 or No. 4 respectively.


The steerer, who sits in the sternmost thwart.


is the right-hand side of the steerer.

Larboard or Port.

The left-hand side.

[These terms are really sea terms;

on a river it is sufficient to say bow and stroke sides.]


boats have the straiks overlapping one another.


boats have the straiks edge to edge, which gives a perfectly smooth surface. (Wager-boats are corbel-built.)

Hitcher or Boat-hook

consists of a staff or hoe,

To Bale

To throw water out of a boat.


Another name for towing.


A twist in a rope.


Width of a boat.

Fore and Aft

Front and back part of a boat,

Porting your Helm

is more a sea than a river term:  the effect is the same as pulling the right-hand yoke-line.

Unshipping or Shipping

Taking the oar or scull out of and putting it in the rowlock. Unshipping is done by raising the hand smartly upward.

Backing Water

Reversing the blade of the oar or scull, and rowing forwards.


in technical language means the crew of the boat.


The boat itself.

Catching a Crab

a terrible sound to all beginners—is caused by the oar turning in the water the wrong way; this forces the blade down, and causes the handle to knock the unfortunate oarsman off his seat. The only way of avoiding this misfortune is to unship the moment it is felt that all control has been lost over the oar.


There are three sorts of rowlocks:


introduced by the celebrated Clasper, of Newcastle, in 1841, who also invented the oars and sculls which are now used with all boats;


principally used in sea-boats;


which may be of the gig or skiff clan. (Vide description.)


A GIG.—This plan of boat can be described shortly by saying that it is a broad high boat, with inrigged rowlocks, a straight gunwale, a narrow keel, nearly an upright stern, a transom, and that it carries a steerer.

There are sculling gigs, pairs, fours, and eights. They are perhaps the commonest class of pleasure-boats on a river, and the pair-oar (see model) are the most often seen of the class. Gigs, with short movable outriggers, are very popular out of Oxford and Cambridge. These boats are rather larger and narrower than the inrigged gigs. The rowlocks are either fixed alternately as in all-right boats, or are doubled so as to allow for sculling.

DINGY.—Another name for a short inrigged gig.

SKIFFS were once very popular, but have now been to a great extent supplanted by gigs. A skiff is not very unlike an inrigged gig; it is rather heavier, has not so upright a gunwale, and has a different rowlock, which is best explained by the annexed outline.



It is considered by some, and notably by the Author of the “Oarsman’s Guide to the River Thames,” to be the best class of boats for travelling purposes.

A SKIFF is a short, light sculling boat, with skiff rowlocks.

A RANDAN may be either of the gig or skiff class, and it Is the only boat which admits of a combination of sculling and rowing. Three persons row in this boat.
pulls a bow-oar, 2 rows with sculls, and 3 pulls a stroke-oar. It also carries a steerer. It is generally from 30 to 35 ft. long and 4 ft wide amidships, in order  to give ample space to the sculler. The work in it is very easy; it carries luggage well, will sail very fairly and safely under a small lugsail, and it is easy to get through a lock. On the other hand, it is barely possible to row or scull properly in it ; the only chance is for the sculler to have outriggers.

A WHERRY is a boat we hear of more in history than see on the water. It is of the skiff class, but shorter, broader, stronger, and heavier, with bows projecting out of the water.

A SHALLOP.  An old-fashioned and large boat, used for pleasure parties and picnics. It may have any number of oars. Has a large state-room, and
bows out of the water.

TUB BOATS, originally a Tub, was a name given to a boat which was not used for racing purposes; now the term is applied to all the heavier kind of racing-boats. They are long, narrow, gig-shaped boats, with long fixed outriggers, and may be either scullers, pairs, fours, or eights; the two first seldom carry a steerer. These boats on rough water, from their greater steadiness and from their carrying a keel (an immense advantage in steering), are almost as fast as the canvas or wager-boats. To all-right boats a strap is attached to the stretcher for the rower to put his feet in.

A Pair Oar Wager Boat

RACING OR WAGER-BOATS. —These boats are often called Canvasses or Outriggers. These, however, are wrong terms, there being canvassed and outrigged boats which are not wager-boats. A racing-boat, as may be imagined, is the lightest class of boat, the special characteristics of which are
 - whether sculler, pair, four, or eight (the first two never carry a steerer)—no keel, corbel-built, bows and stern canvassed over and barely out of the water, and extremely long outriggers. (See engraving of wager, pair-oar, and sculler,) All, the principal races are rowed in these boats. An eight-oar is about 6o ft. long, and 2 ft. 3 in. wide; a pair-oar is about 36 ft. long and 1 ft. 8 in. wide; and a sculling-boat is 30 ft. long, 1 ft. 3 in. wide.

SCULLERS or SCULLING-BOATS have been already described under their different classes. In a wager-boat, very great care should be taken in getting in and out of the boat; but when the sculler is once seated and the sculls are flat on the water, they are difficult to upset. Whenever choosing a sculling-boat, the size and weight of the sculler should be borne in mind. The same sculls do not suit every one, and outriggers may sometimes be found to be too small for the sculls.

A FUNNY is a heavy wager sculling-boat; it has a keel, is canvassed over, and is generally clinker-built. It is shorter and broader than a racing-boat. At Cambridge this class of boat is often called a Noah’s Ark, and a regular wager sculling-boat goes by the name of funny.

A NOAH’S ARK.—The Cambridge name for an ordinary Funny. This is’ a very good boat for practising.

A WHIFF is a light sculling-boat, very like a Funny, except in not being canvassed over; it is easily upset.

A GALLEY.--Another name for a tub eight; originally it was only applied to an inrigged eight.

A CUTTER is, properly speaking, any boat which takes a full-lengthed oar. Now the name is generally given to a racing eight.

TOM-TIT or JOLLY-BOAT.—A very short broad boat, useful for sailing.

 A PUNT.—A very strongly-built boat, with straight sides, flat bottom, and square ends. It is used for fishing and wild-fowl shooting. It is shoved along by means of a punt-pole, and has no rudder. Punting is a favourite recreation, but the art is by no means so simple as it looks. It may be easy enough merely to shove against the bottom of the river and keep the boat moving, but the knack of keeping it straight will take a long time to learn. After the shove, which should commence at the head of the punt and be continued to rather past the middle of it, the handle of the pole should be pressed against the side, by which means the natural impulse which the stern has of swinging round is checked. Beginners should be careful that, after a vigorous shove on a soft bottom, they are not left minus the pole, or that the punt has not slipped from under their feet, and left them suspended for a second in mid-air, to be shortly soused into the water. In deep water, punts are fitted with swivel rowlocks.


CANOESThere are four different kinds of canoes.

1. The ordinary river canoe, which is built of deal, is about 12 ft. long and 22 in. wide, and is canvassed over fore and aft. It has little or no keel, and is not suited for sailing;

2. A long, narrow, and light canoe with a long spoon-shaped paddle, only used for sailing;

3. A heavy canoe, with a fan keel, used almost entirely for sailing;

4. The “Rob Roy,” a travelling canoe, designed by Mr. Mac Gregor “to sail, to paddle, and to bear portage and rough handling.” The sketch, on a scale of a quarter of an Inch to the foot, gives a section of one of these canoes.
The original “Rob Roy”, the one in which “a thousand miles” were compassed, was not nearly so perfect a boat for its purpose as the present one, which was designed for the cruise in the Baltic, and is now the model for all travelling canoes, (Searle of Lambeth has built over a hundred of these canoes.)  

The “Rob Roy” is built of oak, except the top straik, which is of  mahogany, and the deck of cedar. It weighs 6o lbs,, and, with fittings complete, about 70 lbs. (An ordinary river-canoe weighs little more than half this.) Its length over all is 14 ft., beam outside fl In., keel i in., and extreme depth it in. The paddle should not be too long; one about 7 ft. long, with flat blades of 5 in. in width, will be found to be the most useful; but for speed a longer paddle, with a spoon or clasper shaped blade, is better. The paddle should have a leather cup or India-rubber ring on the clasp of each blade to catch the dripping water. A waterproof apron must also be used by the canoeist, The canoe sails very well and safely, but care should be taken that the sail—a working lug—is not too large. Canoes are not nearly so dangerous as is supposed. If you sit fairly straight and do not overreach yourself in your stroke, you cannot come to much harm. In paddling, work from the shoulder, and not merely from the elbows, and the exercise, though not nearly so fine a one as that of rowing, and particularly that of sculling, will develope and strengthen some important muscles.


In the beginning of this article we laid considerable stress on the importance of beginning to row well and in good style. This can only be done by the young oarsman placing himself in the hands of a good oar, and implicitly following his directions. Unfortunately, as good oarsmen are not to be found everywhere, the result is that by far the larger majority of young people learn how to row on a sort of innate “rough-and-tumble” way, which is not conducive to good style, though it may enable them to row sufficiently well for enjoyment.

The best test of good rowing is “pair-oar” rowing without a steerer. A pair-oar wager-boat is shown in [an] illustration [above]. The men are “forward all,” and on the point of commencing their stroke. The attitude should be carefully compared with the directions which are given below. The best way of beginning to learn is in an inrigged pair-oar, with a coxswain who should act as coach. The very Worst way is pulling seven “land-lubbers” in an eight-oar with a decent oarsman as stroke, and an old hand to steer, teach, and race. You should choose, therefore, a heavyish boat to begin with. Row really well in that, and a little confidence and practice will soon do the rest.

Step into the boat carefully—no jumping in—and notice how the waterman holds the boat against the bank in order to steady it. See that the mat is fairly fastened to the thwart, and on the proper side of the boat, and take your appointed place. Stroke (No. 2) always sits on the right hand of the steerer, and rows on the port side or left hand of the steerer; Bow (No.1) exactly the reverse.

Understand your stretcher—how to lift it, and what length you require; your knees should be neither too high nor too low. There are three kinds of stretchers: the common old-fashioned one, secured by means of stretch-pieces; those which, in addition to the stretch-pieces, are fastened with an iron band and hook and eye; and those which are secured by means of screws. Stretchers in light boats have straps attached to them. Place both your feet in them, otherwise you may pull sideways, or screw. You ought, however, to be able to row without the assistance of any straps.

The oar, which should be roughened in the handle, ought just to clear the side of the boat; a full-lengthed oar is about 13 ft. 5 in. long, but in an inrigged boat the oar is shorter. Grasp the handle of the oar with both hands, thumbs under, the top hand close to the end of the oar, the other two inches nearer the rowlock. Some oarsmen keep the thumb of the outside hand over; in rough water they must be liable to have the oar jerked out of their hands altogether. Stretch out your arms before you to their fullest extent, elbows straight, hands low, and the blade of the oar at a right angle with the water. Your head should be erect, though a little forward, the shoulders square, the back straight, and your knees well bent. The men in the pair-oar illustration are exactly in this position. Drop the oar into the water and feel the water at once—that is, begin to pull instantaneously. This is what is called the catch in the beginning, and it is, perhaps, the most important part of the stroke. The blade of the oar should be covered and no more, but this should be done at the very commencement of the stroke, and kept to exactly the same depth in the water to the end. There is no greater mistake than beginning with a shallow stroke, and then deepening as you go on. We now come to the end of the stroke. You have been pulling with the whole weight of your body as well as with your arms; you have been pulling with your feet pressed hard against the .stretcher, so as to bring every muscle in your legs and thighs into play. Continue the pull until your body is rather past the perpendicular and your knees straight, when you will find that your stroke has done its utmost, and, that it is mere waste of power to continue it. Bring your oar out of the Water, drop your wrists and turn the back of your hands towards the chest; this will bring the blade of your oar in line with the water, which process is called feathering.

Feathering will require some practice; you should not attempt it at first. At Cambridge, where the water is very smooth, after the feather the blade of the oar is kept very low on the water; at Oxford and elsewhere, it is usual to feather much higher. Though not so graceful to look at, the latter method is by far the most useful.

Your oar out of the water, recover your body with an elastic bound from the hips. Throw forward your arms simultaneously with your body, as already described still keeping the blade of the oar horizontal with the water until you have got your hands well over your toes, when you are ready to turn the blade at a right angle with the water, and recommence your stroke.

We have not half done yet. Besides rowing well on your own account, you should try to row in the same style and pull the same kind of stroke as the other man or men in the boat. You should keep exact time; hurrying on the stroke is a very common fault. Your oar should drop into the water at the same moment as the other oar or oars are dipped, and you should finish the stroke at the same time. This can only be done by keeping your eyes in the boat, carefully watching and imitating whoever is in front of you.

The stroke should be as long as possible: it is the length and strength of a stroke which wins a race, and not the number of strokes which can be pulled in a minute. In swinging up and down on the, stroke, you must swing straight and evenly. Any jerking, screwing, or pulling sideways is utter destruction to yourself and to everybody else in the boat.

In a light or outrigged boat more care will he necessary than in a heavy inrigged one. In the case of outriggers the oar is placed in the rowlock after you have taken your seat, but before you arrange the stretcher.


Sculling is rowing with two small oars or sculls. A sculling boat may be of any size or of any class, only the heavier sort carrying a steerer. The sculler sits exactly in the centre of the boat. The sculls, which should not be too heavy, should overlap three or four inches. The sculler should grasp the handle of each scull, thumbs under, and scull according to the directions given for rowing, with this difference—that each hand has to do in sculling the work of two in rowing. The two pictures give an accurate illustration of the beginning and end of the stroke.
To prevent the handles of the sculls dashing against each other, one hand should be kept slightly uppermost. Sculling, to a beginner, is certainly more difficult than rowing. To make the two sculls do exactly the same amount of work and act as exact counterparts of each other will require considerable practice.


Another difficulty is the steering. At least once in every half-dozen strokes the sculler will find it necessary to turn his head and neck—but not his body—to look behind him. The principal


most of which are given in treatises on the subject, are:

1.      The rower or sculler omits to straighten both arms before him.

2.      Continues to place his hands forward by a subsequent motion after the shoulders have attained their full reach, which is getting the body forward without the arms. Every part of the person should move in unison.

3.      Extends the arms without a corresponding bend on the part of the shoulders, which is getting the arms forward without the body.

4.      Catches the water with unstraightened arms; thus time may be kept, but not stroke.

5.      Hangs before dipping downwards to begin the stroke.

6.      Rows shallow; that is, does not cover the blade up to the shoulder.

7.      Rows too deep; that is, covers the bladed part of the shank of the oar or scull.

8.      Rows round and deep in the middle of the stroke, with hands high and blade still sinking after the first contact.

9.      Curves his back forward or aft. Persistent stooping is most injurious to the rower.

10.  Keeps one shoulder higher than the other.

11.  Jerks,

12.  Rocks.

13.  Bends over the oar at the feather, thus bringing the body up to the handle, instead of the handle up to the body.

14.  Strikes the water at an obtuse angle, instead of at a right angle.

15.  Rows the first part of the stroke in the air.

16.  Cuts short the end of the stroke, prematurely slackening the arms.

17.  Shirks—a combination of Nos. 4 and 16.

18.  Screws or rolls backwards, with an inclination towards the inside or outside of the boat.

19.  Turns his elbows at the feather, Instead of bringing them sharp past the flanks.

20.  Keep the head depressed between the shoulders instead of erect.

21.  Looks out of the boat instead of straight before him. This inevitably rocks the boat. Looking at the blade of the oar whilst rowing is a very common fault with beginners.

22.  Throws up water forward instead of aft,

23.  Causes a splashing by dipping the oar in the water before finishing going forward.

24.  Leans on the rowlock.

25.  Runs away with the stroke.

26.  Rows a single careless stroke.

27.  Moves in his seat whilst rowing.


The steering of a sculling-boat has been already explained.

In a light pair-oar without a coxswain the bow-oar steers, so regulating his stroke as to keep the boat straight in its course. The stroke-oar rows on steadily, in no way interfering with the steering.

A Coxswain should commence learning his duties, which are as important and as difficult to learn as those of a rower, in a small but heavy boat. When he has learnt to steer this boat with a moderate use of the rudder and as few zigzags as possible, let him try a larger one. The coxswain sits on the steer thwart, keeps his legs well under him, and the yoke-lines twisted round his hand. At each stroke his body may bend forward vvenly, but on no account with a jerking motion. To whatever side he wishes the boat to move, he pulls the line on that side. The pull should be a steady and even one, not hard or jerking; the yoke-line should also always be kept tight. Whenever necessary, the coxswain should call upon the bow or stroke-side oars to assist him, by pulling, backing, or holding water, in altering the course of the boat. The only chance of keeping a straight course while steering is to steer for some fixed point. The strength of the current or tide, the effect on the waters by a projecting point of land or by a small bay, the nature of backwater and of eddies, can only be learnt by experience. Wind is one of the greatest enemies of the young steerer. With a strong side wind the stern of a boat has a tendency to turn away from the wind, which gives increased labour to the oars on that side. As in such a wind the boat is driven bodily to leeward, the bows should be directed to some place to windward (the point from which the wind comes) of its destination.

The coxswain, if a good oarsman, has other duties besides that of steering. His position enables him to see what all the crew are doing, and he should not allow any fault to pass unnoticed. Coaching may be done from the river bank, but it is more effective from the coxswain’s seat. It is for this reason that we advise the captain of the boat occasionally to assume the yoke-lines. In a race, besides steering, the coxswain should keep an eye upon the other boats, to prevent fouling. He should keep the stroke informed of the position of the race, state when a spurt is absolutely necessary, and, in fact, bring to bear all the intellect and pluck he possesses on the race.



Boats are generally kept under cover in a boat-house, and the crew are expected to lend a hand both in launching and stowing away. The captain should tell off the crew according to the position they are to row, each man taking his proper oar, which for fours and eights are always numbered. Bow or coxswain should be the first person to enter the boat. The getting into a boat has already been described. All the directions of the coxswain should be implicitly obeyed.

TURNING.—A sculler would turn his boat by backing or holding Water with one scull and rowing with the other. A rowing-boat is turned on the same principle, with the assistance of the rudder.

BACKING.—How to back water has been already explained. It must not be forgotten, whilst backing with the rudder fixed, that the yoke-lines are to be pulled on principles the exact opposite of ordinary steering.

LANDING.—In landing or getting a boat alongside, it is better, if possible, to row up stream. The head of the boat should be steered for the landing-jetty or wharf, and the tide or current will drift the stern level with the shore. In a heavy or inrigged boat, the oars or sculls would be unshipped and placed in the boat blades forward. In a tub or wager-boat, each man, after unshipping, would—according to his turn—rise, take the oar with him, and stow it away.

PASSING.—In passing, a boat—unless there is plenty of room between the boat and the shore—keeps on the outside.

MEETING. —If the boats are very close, the sculls or oars should be unshipped and allowed to drift alongside. The boat which has the tide in its favour must get out of the way. The general rule is, that boats pass each other on the left side; that is, a steerer would pull his right yoke-line, and a sculler would pull his left scull. The rule is the same on a river for boats as it is on a footpath for pedestrians. Different rivers have sometimes different rules. On a race-course every boat is expected to get out of the way of any boat going over the course, whether racing, practising, or otherwise.. The winners should also always be allowed their own course as they return.

CROSSING.—A boat crossing another should, if coming down stream, keep astern of it; the same if crossing the course of a barge, as by so doing you avoid the danger of “heading” it.
TRACKING or TOWING.—All pleasure-boats should be furnished with a towing-rope and mast. If there is any tracking to be done, the steerer should at starting so hold the rudder that the bows of the boat are sent out into the stream, otherwise they would to a certainty be pulled into the bank.

 WEIRS.—In going down stream great care should be taken not to approach too closely to a weir, which in England is seldom protected. Keeping on the same side of the river as the towing-path, and crossing where the ferry shows the path has changed sides, will prevent any unfortunate mishap on a strange river. A weir always announces the presence of a lock.

LOCKS are the greatest nuisances on a river. They occur every two or three miles on the Thames, and about ten minutes should be allowed for getting in and out of one. In every respect it is more difficult to pass a lock going up stream than down: some skill and considerable care is always required to avoid danger. Boats are more easily managed with sculls than with oars.

On arriving near a lock, call out, “Lock, Lock, Lock, Lock, Lo-o-o-ck!”
and keep well away from the gates. You will find all sorts of cross currents and back-waters will try to get the upper hand ; but as long as you keep clear of any obstructions and have the free use of your oars and sculls you are all safe.

On entering the lock you will have to contend against the strength of the water, which, in issuing out of the lock gate, has a tendency to turn the boat round the moment her nose shows inside the gates. Ship your oars and be ready with the boat-hook; and if you have outriggers, be particularly careful they do not hit or get jammed against anything. When inside the lock and the gates closed, you may either keep in the middle of the lock with the sculls out, or be alongside, holding fast to the sides, but 1ooking out that the boat’s gunwale or outriggers are clear of any projection. The boat must be kept as close as possible to the lower gates - the one which has just been passed - as the drawing of the upper sluices, in order to fill the lock, will cause an eddy out of which it is better to keep. When the water has risen to its proper height, the upper gates are opened, through which it is easy enough to pass.

Passing a lock down stream is much more simple. The water outside it is quiet; the principal thing to be avoided is not to go in too fast. When inside, keep by the upper gates, as the water which is being let out of the lock always sucks the boat towards the lower gates. Inside a lock strict command should be kept over the boat otherwise she will either hitch against the side, or be thrown athwart the lock and inevitably be filled.


1.      All boat-races shall be started in the following manner;  The starter on being satisfied that the competitors are ready, shall give the signal to start.

2.      If the starter considers the start false he shall at once recall the boats to their stations; and any boat refusing to start again shall be disqualified.

3.      Any boat not at its post at the time specified shall be liable to be disqualified by the umpire.

4.      The umpire may act as starter, as he thinks fit ; where he does not so act, the starter shall he subject to the control of the umpire.

5.      Each boat shall keep its own water throughout the race, and any boat departing from its own water will do so at its peril.

6.      A boat’s own water is its straight course, parallel with those of the other competing boats, from the station assigned to it at starting, to the finish.

7.      The umpire shall be sole judge of a boat’s own water and proper course during the race.

8.      No fouling whatever shall be allowed; the boat committing a foul shall be disqualified.

9.      It shall be considered a foul when, after the race has commenced, any competitor by his oar, boat, or person, comes in contact with the oar, boat, or person of another competitor; unless in the opinion of the umpire, such contact is so slight as not to influence the race.

10.  The umpire may, during the race, caution any competitor when in danger of committing a foul.

11.  The umpire, when appealed to, shall decide all questions as to a foul.

12.  A claim of foul must be made to the judge or the umpire by the competitor himself before getting out of his boat.

13.  In case of a foul, the umpire shall have the power :—(a) to place the boats—except the boat committing the foul, which is disqualified—in the order in which they come in; (b) to order the boats engaged in the race, other than the boat committing the foul, to row over again on the same or another day; (c) to re-start the qualified boats from the place where the foul was committed.

14.  Every boat shall abide by its accidents.

15.  No boat shall be allowed to accompany a competitor for the purpose of directing his course or affording him other assistance. The boat receiving such direction or assistance shall be disqualified at the discretion of the umpire.

16.  The jurisdiction of the umpire extends over the race and all matters connected with it, from the time the race is specified to start until its final termination; and his decision in all cases shall be final and without appeal.

17.  Any competitor refusing to abide by the decision, or to follow the directions of the umpire, shall be disqualified.

18.  The umpire, if he thinks proper, may reserve his decision, provided that in every case such decision be given on the day of the race.


1.      A row-boat going against the stream or tide should take the shore or bank—which bank is immaterial—and should keep inside all boats meeting it.

2.      A row-boat going with stream or tide should take a course in mid-river, and should keep outside all boats meeting it.

3.      A row-boat overtaking another boat proceeding in the same direction. should keep clear of the boat it overtakes, which should maintain its course.

4.      A row-boat meeting another end-on in still or open waters or lakes, should keep to the right, as in walking, leaving the boat passed on the port or left side.

5.      A row-boat with a coxswain should give way to a boat without coxswain, subject to the foregoing rules in so far as they apply.

6.      A boat towing with stream or tide should give way to a boat towing against it, and if it becomes necessary to unship or drop a tow-line, the former should give way to the latter; but when a barge towing is passed by a pleasure boat towing, the latter should give way and go outside, as a small boat is the easier of the two to manage, in addition to which the river is the barge’s highway.

7.      A row-boat must give way to a sailing-boat.

8.      When a row-boat and a steamer pass each other, their actions should, as a rule, be governed by the same principle as on two row-boats passing; but in shallow waters the greater draught of the steam vessel should be remembered, and the row-boat give way to her.

In selecting a crew for a race, great care should be taken that there is not too great a difference between the weight of the rowers. In an eight-oar the heaviest man rows No. 5, and in a four-oar No. 3. The stroke need not be the captain of the boat or the best oarsman; but he should possess an even temper, sound judgment, indomitable pluck, and, above all, a perfectly steady stroke, so that the time from one stroke to the other should not vary by a fraction. Nos. 3 and 7 in a four or eight-oar respectively are very important oars; they have no one directly in front of them, and upon them depends all the oars on the bow-side keeping time.


Before going in for a race, training is considered to be necessary. This may be described in a few words as getting up at seven and going to bed at ten o’clock; meals at stated periods; the most moderate use of liquids; no smoking; ‘a couple of hours’ sharp exercise on land, and three hours’ practice on the water. The great aim in practising is to row well together. A moderate crew which has arrived at this invaluable result is more than a match for a much more powerful crew unaccustomed to pull in the same boat. The more pair-oar rowing the men have, the more likely will they be to keep good time and pull the same kind of stroke both as to form and trength. Practising should be easy at first; but towards the expiration of the training time, the whole course should be rowed over with a long swinging stroke; the time taken should be kept; short spurts should he attempted and good starts effected. Whenever the crew is found to be rowing wildly, an “ease all” should be immediately called.