Boathouse Working Bee


Our club decided that the boathouse was looking shabby, the gear was not well cared for and we were frankly embarrassed to greet visitors.

Time for action – our training group decided to run a working bee every Wednesday from 5.30 – 6.30 pm until all the jobs we wanted doing were complete.

Running a Working Group

We started with the desired end state in mind.  For us this was:

  1. Nice boats and oars to row with
  2. An orderly boat shed – a place for everything and everything in its place

We planned the jobs so that there were technical jobs which only experienced people could do and then more general jobs which anyone could do.

There was one really big job which was to refurbish a four/quad and so this became the centre piece of activity each week – we started by removing the riggers, all seats, runners and foot stretchers and storing them in a crate.  Any missing parts (end stops for the slides, worn gates, new rudder wires) we made a list and sent off for the spares from our local boat builder.

Meanwhile we had groups working on checking the oars for wear – checking the lengths / inboards were all the same, labelling the oars and spare riggers.  We also organised a skip for old gear which we knew would never be used again – old riggers, single oars which got broken (we stripped them for spare parts).

The skilled technical leaders

These people led two big areas

  1. checking rigging
  2. repairing dings in the boat hulls

The rigging team were paired an experienced person with a newbie and worked down each boat checking spread / span, pitch, footstretcher angle and getting the height of the oarlocks consistent.  We chose to add in red removable washers on each gate so it was easy to change the heights on the water.

The boat hull team had a gel coat repair kit and started methodically working over each boat.  One week we added the repair coat and the next week we sanded it down and the third week we painted.

The result?

By week 4 we had done nearly everything on the job list.  We had planned a reorganisation of our oar racking (handy to know Space Saver Oar Racks!) and also considered how to enable the juniors to store school bags when they visit for sport day.

What would you do in your club with a working bee?


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Graham Spittle

    What a beautiful boathouse you have – lovely architectural lines and wood clad ceiling spans. I assume it wasn’t a flat-pack purchase!
    Carrying out your excellent Work Bee plan must be a joy, as it allows the beauty of the architecture you’re bathed in, to shine through, as well as making rowing life easier for all.
    Boathouse envy!!
    Do you use the boats, to be re-gel’d, in between the weekly stages, or do you have the luxury of spare boats? Potential fleet envy too – oh dear!!!
    If the re-gelling is for specific scratches, rather than a complete re-gel, what product do you use and does it work on carbon fibre clear gels. I have been advised to use clear nail varnish, even by experts, for scratches?

    1. Rebecca Caroe

      Sadly Graham, it’s not my boathouse – but one we wrote about in a blog article! So to answer your questions – yes we used the re-gelled boats in between working sessions. It’s nearly summer so they dry out quickly! We don’t have spare boats – our club is a mix of juniors and masters and some boats get rowed multiple times every day. The re-gelling is only for specific scratches – we were patching and repairing only. The product we bought is this one Personally I would not put much faith in nail varnish – it’s not designed for a marine environment (just my view).

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