The Boathouse Quest and Launch Site Search
Swan Creek Rowing Club, through the efforts of its board of directors and club members, has determined to make a boathouse facility available along the Delaware River in Lambertville. The boathouse should provide year-round boat storage, bathrooms, lockers, showers, an indoor training area, meeting room and space for daily operations.
The floods of 2004 and 2005 forced SCRC to expand this effort to include a search for a suitable launch site to be used until a boathouse can be built.
SCRC has been seeking a boathouse site for more than 15 years now. Many locations both in and around Lambertville have been investigated. None of the sites proved viable logistically and/or financially. The Lewis family generously continued to be our host on Lewis Island throughout this search.
In 2003 a potential location was identified in Lambertville downriver of the “Free Bridge” and adjacent to the Lambertville Sewer Authority. SCRC began discussions with the Black River and Western Railroad (BRWRR) to determine a site and specifications for a structure to be used by BRWRR for its passenger service and by SCRC for its rowing operations. The director of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission, Jim Amon, reviewed these plans. We understand that he was very supportive of a dual use structure on the proposed site. He has now retired.
In September of 2004 Lewis Island was severely flooded and SCRC suffered a near total loss of rowing equipment and shells. Just as SCRC was planning its recovery on Lewis Island an even more severe flood struck in March of 2005. This second blow to the island was devastating to our good friends who own the island. It also punctuated our need to establish a new site for our membership. A site that did not depend on a small bridge designed to wash away during high waters as its only access and preferably one well out of the last two flood zones.
Fortunately BRWRR granted SCRC an easement in May 2005 to the site adjacent to the LSA. Since then we have been working with the new director of the DRCC, NJ DEP, and the city of Lambertville to make best use of the site for current operations.
SCRC is currently based out of this site using the public boat ramp. We are grateful for all the cooperation that made this possible. We are particularly thankful that the Swan Creek Youth Program is once again up and running. It is benefiting nearly two dozen local youth rowers at this time.
SCRC has been allocating a portion of its annual budget to a boathouse savings fund.
SCRC would need the following items available to support club operations.
- Boathouse: with multiple boat storage bays and support facilities. More details below under “Boathouse Specs”
- Land above “recent” flood zones.
- Utilities: Electric, Water, Sewage.
- Parking: Sufficient parking to support daily rowers as well as club meetings.
- Launching Dock: Approximately 80 feet of waterfront would be needed for dock installation. It would be used to launch rowing shells and to moor the coach’s launch.
- Outdoor staging area for daily rowing activities, trailer storage, etc.
- Boat bay dimensions:
- 20-25 feet wide to allow for a width of 6 feet along each wall of the bay to store rigged boats and an 8 foot aisle to walk boats out with 1 foot of rigger clearance on each side.
- 60-65 feet long to accommodate an eight.
- 13-14 feet high to store sweep oars vertically.
- Boats could be stored 4-5 rows high along the sides of the bay. 6-8 high using additional mechanical lifts.
- Storage capacity:
- A 65-foot bay, with boats stored 8 high, would accommodate 32 singles.
- With the club’s current fleet of about 10 club singles and 15-20 private singles, we need a whole bay just for singles.
- A second bay would hold our fleet of 3 fours, a quad, 3 doubles, an eight, with some space for oars and other equipment.
- In order to accommodate future growth and an area for repair, a third bay would be needed.
- Additional facilities: A second floor or additional first floor square footage would accommodate shower facilities, indoor training area, meeting room, etc.
Working with DRCC, we hope to identify a site that is suitable for all involved. We hope to provide a permanent home for SCRC that includes a facility that will serve the membership’s needs and allow SCRC to be even more active if promoting the sport of rowing to our community’s youth and adults alike.
We also hope to develop cooperative relations with the Power Boat Association, Splash (a local non-profit educational program), kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts, and all our other new neighbors.
We will need your help to get this work done. SCRC has a large pool of expertise due its diverse membership. We hope to capitalize on that. You can contact the SCRC board members with questions, suggestions, and to volunteer your time or expertise.