THL: Stay a safe distance from vertical surfaces if there are significant waves present in the area. A passing boat or ship may generate big waves that escape your attention until there is no time to escape. An example is the North anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge (but there are special cases, e.g. rough water classes or the OWRC regatta, when there is a fast flood coming through the Golden Gate, and it is useful to be close to the wall since the current is slower there).
Outside of resistance type, we found the number-one arbiter of ride feel to be cord quality. Water ergometers tend to employ nylon cords, while air ergometers feature metal chains — a durability factor we anticipated would result in our favoring air. But while all three water rowers aced our expectation of smooth, high-tension strokes, perfecting the chain seems to be more difficult: Some tug with just a slight rumble, others feature bouncy, grinding chains that are incredibly loud, something akin to angry snoring. As for nylon, the best wind and unwind like elastic silk — no slack, no sound, no catching, just perfectly even tension throughout the stroke.