Operational Plan & Safety Management Plan

RFDS Operation Pelican Inc.  Flying Doctor Rowathon

October 5, 2019

Operational Plan


The aim of this event is to ensure the safe, enjoyable and environmentally responsible behaviour of all waterborne personnel involved with the Rowing Marathon.

Organisations involved

Mildura RFDS

R.F.D.S Operation Pelican Inc

Wentworth District Rowing Club 

There will be a number of Support Vehicles following the crews with UHF Radios and also Mobile Phones.

Program for the day 

Date:                               5th October 2019

Starting Time:                6.00am

Starting Location:       Private property East of Trentham Cliffs 

Crews will row downstream on the Murray River from the 904 Km river marker to Mildura Rowing Club lawns, stop for crew changes and morning tea then row through lock 11 to Coomealla Golf Club landing where they will stop for lunch. Then they will row down the Murray to  the junction with the Darling River and up the Darling to  finish at WDRC.

            Finishing Location:                        Wentworth District Rowing Club


R.F.D.S. Operation Pelican Inc. will record crews departing at the start, and will also check 

boats in and out at morning tea, lunch, and also at the finish line.


Safety Management

The RFDS Operation Pelican committee will coordinate:

Ø                       Communications

Ø                       Support Crew Responsibility

Ø                      Mildura RFDS first aid will be stationed on the river to access Ambulance and other necessary support crews

 All communications to ambulance and police will be managed by Mildura RFDS

Wentworth District Rowing Club – 3 boats, 2 people per boat

Rowing clubs 1-2 boats, 2 people per boat

We expect to have approx 20 - 25 rowing boats and will start boats at approx 30 second intervals with a 1 minute gap after each 5 boats and our aim is for each group of 5 boats to have a support boat and to monitor each other’s progress. All coxes will have a copy of the relevant Murray and Darling River Charts to guide them along the rivers. They will also be briefed before the start to ensure all understand the safety plan including communication and emergency access points.



Wentworth Ambulance will have details of the rowing course and they   are aware of access points along both rivers.

Murray River:-

Sturt Hwy                                              Gol Gol

Mildura                                                 Rowing Club Lawns

                                                                Lock 11

                                                                Apex Park

Coomealla Golf Club                           Coomealla

Laza Way House Boats                       Coomealla

Sturt Hwy                                              Curlwaa

Darling River:-

Wentworth Rowing Club                       Wentworth


Morning Tea – Mildura Rowing Club Lawns, Mildura

Lunch - Coomealla Golf Club river landing, Coomealla

Finish -  Wentworth Rowing Club,  Wentworth

Organisers, Support Crews, On Land and Participants on the River will have Radio and mobile phone communication for the Entire Course.

Any Further Information Please contact Sam Cross on 0408 596 390 or

 Bob Symons on 0412 256 344 

Instructions to Crews:

1.Crews should refer to the issued river charts and look for the distance markers as well as people on the bank

2. Check with the time keeper when you start and before you start each leg.

3. Crews should stop for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea and replenish water and supplies

4. Watch out for snags, particularly close to the banks of the river. If there is no river traffic, stay on the RH side of middle of the river. DO NOT CUT CORNERS.

5. Take plenty of water/drinks with you and stay well hydrated.

6. Slow crews may need to shorten changeovers to make the finish before 6.00PM. Time keeper will advise.


Make an early judgment about the likely weather conditions and firstly prepare yourself to be self-sufficient for clothing, food, fluids and add-ons like sunscreen and insect repellent as if you were going to be hiking over rugged terrain or running a full or ultra-marathon or working outdoors all day.

Best to be covered head to toe including hands and fingers under one light layer of loose fitting clothing, except around the chest and abdomen where the clothing should be comfortably firm. The remaining exposed skin needs to be covered under adequate layers of protective cream.

Take a hand towel or piece of towelling to wet and place around your neck to keep cool.

The simple principle is to take it, have it, wear it and then you can always stow it unused in the boat if you don’t need it.

Before, during and after the event you need to consume, in small amounts, enough easily and quickly digestible food and fluid to nearly maintain your body weight. Replace, as you go, what you sweat out.

Rowathon motor boats will have spare water, sunscreen and tape for hands.


Generally stay in the RH side of the middle of the river away from the banks, snags and surface plants – except if there are obstacles or other craft in the middle of the river. When passing a craft travelling in an opposite direction, keep your bow side, (starboard side) near the bank. When a craft is passing in the same direction, the slow boat yields to the faster boat. Be aware of other boats rowing near you and give them guidance if you think they need it.

IF you capsize, (1)  immediately check that all rowers have surfaced by numbering off from bow and include the cox, (2) everyone climb onto and lie on top of the upturned boat with legs straddling the hull and arms on each side and (3) everyone paddle the boat to a landing place where you can all safely stand. NO ONE swim alongside the boat, stay in or under the water, try to save oars, equipment, phones, food. ( Surprisingly and usually, most items stay with and inside the boat.) Wait for a motor boat / medical support to assist you.

Motor boats will be equipped with CB radios for use in seeking support if needed.

IF you break equipment, wait for a motor boat to assist and/or bring you a replacement.



Stay strong and within yourself. Err on the side of caution and take a rest rather than soldiering on when your body is saying that’s enough.

Coxes, give crews a rest every 20 – 25 mins to have a drink and eat some food. Scullers have a break every 15-20 mins or more frequently as required

Every boat should carry in a plastic bag tied to the boat basic rigging tools and a roll of tape to do simple repairs.

Any Further Information please contact Sam Cross on 0408 596 390 or 

Bob Symons on 0412    256 344 


The file below has the RFDS Operation Pelican Inc. Safety Management Plan in the format as issued by Rowing Victoria. This was updated in July 2019.

bob symons,
Jul 11, 2019, 8:52 PM