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Things were starting to look like a bust for the morning, when finally a car pulled into the parking lot, containing one of the rowers I spoke with last Saturday.

So, rowing! The Berkeley Paddling and Rowing Club seems like it could be a good fit. There aren't really any organized practices or teams, and it's focused on sculling, so it's largely an amalgamation of master's rowers who just want to get out and row. A considerable change of pace from the college kids in Texas. Plus, there's a dock*, so for the first time in many years I don't have to wet-launch. The location is the most convenient out of the area clubs (about 5 miles from home), and there are people who are out in the mornings, so I should be set.

It's hard to know what to expect in terms of actually racing with anyone else here. I'm grateful for the years I've spent in the single, which gives me some useful independence in that I'm not hastily throwing my hat in the ring with people whose inclinations may differ from my own. It still makes me feel a little lonely, though, to see doubles partners out doing their thing on the water. On the other hand, I have a sense that if I give things a bit of time, there will be opportunities to put boats together for some of the local regattas.

We're rowing on a small body of water. I would have thought it hard to find somewhere smaller than Lake Bryan, but here I am. The Berkeley Marina is 1.5 km long, and is basically just a rectangular channel. It might be possible to hold dual races, but I'd be hesitant to do more than that because of obstacles along the shoreline.

The only other users of the Marina appear to be an adaptive paddling program and a waterskiing club. From what everyone has said, the waterskiing club isn't especially well organized, and they're only out on the water during certain times of the year, so I probably won't see them much.

I got in two laps this morning in a Maas open-water openweight single. It felt like it rode a little high in the water, but otherwise it was a perfectly good boat, in WAY better repair than the Cool Runnings, that lightweight single I trained and raced in Texas. It sounds like I can eventually upgrade to racing singles, but if I were in charge, I would have stuck me in the Mass to begin with anyway. You just never know with newcomers.

Getting on the water and taking a few strokes, that year of no rowing just melted away. I can tell I need to do more work to redevelop stabilizing muscles, and my hands are tender, but I am pretty sure I'll be back at it in no time. This is a great time of year to be getting back on the water because there usually aren't too many races in the winter. By the time racing season rolls around, I should be ready to give it a go.

The club has one other incentive to keep me going. At the Annual Meeting, they handed out some special "Century Club" cards to all of the rowers who came down to the boathouse and put in at least 100 visits over the course of the year. It's these silly little goals that keep me going.

I am also exceedingly happy that they have a small gym space as well, with a collection of freeweights and a couple of ergs. If the weather is ever too gross, there are other things I can do. It might seem like a small and humble space, but boy is it luxurious after rowing out of a fenced-in area on a chewed-up beach. There are even bathrooms.

*Albeit a dock that's badly in need of repair, and slated to be replaced sometime this year.



( 13 remarks — Remark )
Jan. 12th, 2016 11:21 pm (UTC)
That all sounds lovely! Docks are sheerest luxury *still* in my mind... my college club didn't have one, so my rowing experience is easily 98% wet-launch. I don't even own neoprene boots any more, though. (Too bad no rowing places are on ClassPass, for all that it would be a terrible fit, heh.)
Jan. 14th, 2016 09:29 pm (UTC)
I've been wet launching for the last 11.5 years, so they feel pretty luxurious to me, too.

The only way I could see a rowing place working for ClassPass would be if they offered some sort of erg "spin" class. That said, I think most of the Seattle boathouses get enough traffic as it is that they aren't looking too hard to bring in more.
Jan. 13th, 2016 03:36 am (UTC)
This makes me very happy for you!

Jan. 13th, 2016 01:52 pm (UTC)
Hurrah!!! Delighted to hear you're back on the water.

I know where you are rowing too, I believe. Has a scenic view of the highway, yes? :)
Jan. 14th, 2016 09:27 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, yes it does...The funny part about that is that it reminds me of hearing all of the traffic outside the Villa Maria house.
Jan. 13th, 2016 04:49 pm (UTC)
Bathrooms! Yay!
(Between ERV Beatrix in Eindhoven, and rowing out of our house, I am spoiled. Now if only I could be *in* the house enough to get actual water time...)
Jan. 14th, 2016 09:25 pm (UTC)
This facility is fairly run-down, so the local rowers are pretty humble, but for me the contrast is so great that I'm head-over-heels happy with it. I can walk down to the water wearing shoes! I don't have to run across a huge field to get to a nasty public bathroom flush toilet! I can bike to the boathouse in only 30 minutes, and then to work in only 20 minutes! I'm rowing in a shell that hasn't dry-rotted from baking in the sun for several decades, and that's actually for heavyweights!

PLUS, it looks to me like I may be able to convince some of these ladies to be racing partners...although I might still be a kid to them...
Jan. 14th, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC)
Also $200 for membership really is a smoking deal. THe club on our lake charges about $800/person ... or $250 for a "private boat membership" where you don't use their boats and you don't get coaching. I haven't quite figured out the point to that, which is why we don't belong. Not worth it when we're only there 1-2 times per month.
Jan. 14th, 2016 11:05 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, believe me, I realize that $200/year is ridiculously cheap. I was paying/contributing $250/semester to the Aggies, although that covered regatta travel and entries (and let's face it, the equipment was junk). I still figured that was a good deal. No coaching here, from what I've seen so far.

It would make more sense to me for a place to have a 3-part system: boat storage/facility use fee, boat use fee, and coaching fee, so people like you could take advantage of coaching and cameraderie (assuming the coaching's any good). But so many boathouse systems are homegrown, and maybe the club on your lake isn't interested in participants like you for whatever crazy reason.

Lake Merritt, which is like 8 miles from here, looks like it prefers to organize its rowers into teams, with corresponding prices that include coaching. All the other rowing programs are further away than that, so I didn't investigate further.

It's also strange/interesting to be in a place that appears to be only master's rowers. Might have something to do with the sculling focus. Altogether, though, I sort of feel like I lucked out by being closest to a low-key, cheap facility.
Jan. 14th, 2016 11:26 pm (UTC)
At this time of year I'd really value coaching even if it sucked. One nice thing in the Netherlands was knowing that even if you fell in during the worst part of the year, the bank wasn't far away and there were likely to be people passing who might help you if you needed it. Here we have a big lake with very cold water ( water comes from the mountains) and conditions can be rough - just being out there with someone in a launch keeping an eye on you would be a huge benefit. I agree that a 3-part system would make sense, or maybe just pay-per session for coaching.

Regardless, this club sounds like a good fit for you - hope it turns out to be so!
Jan. 17th, 2016 04:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, the safety element is a factor! Other rowers have been telling me that the Berkeley Marina is shallow enough that it's possible to stand / touch the bottom pretty much anywhere (but that pollutant levels are high enough that one wouldn't really want to do that). It's also pretty narrow, so it shares some things in common with the canal network.
Jan. 14th, 2016 02:17 am (UTC)

Yay! It's good to have a rowing home. I still haven't figured out how to acquire training partners outside of organized practices, maybe I am too shy. I also worry about slowing people down.

I like the century club, what a great idea! I'm going to propose doing something like that at our club- we could go through the log books and tally everyone's practices. A nice way to recognize people for showing up, when many of those people aren't necessarily competing or winning medals.

Jan. 14th, 2016 09:22 pm (UTC)
Finding good training partners is very much like dating, really. My rowing partner in Arizona has struggled because of this...there's a small pool of people to choose among, and none of the eligible people are the right fit for her tastes and lifestyle.

I also really love the century club idea. I hope it sticks. :^)
( 13 remarks — Remark )

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