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Old 09-07-2016, 11:22   #16
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

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Originally Posted by coultereng View Post
Just finished building a PT11 and love it. Rows great and sails great as well!
What kind of oar locks did you choose? Would love to see some pictures of yourboat!
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Old 09-07-2016, 13:43   #17
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

dinghys are like thongs one size fits most/positive flotation helps/if you are 6'8" your dingy is 3'6"you may need to stand and sweep
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Old 09-07-2016, 15:02   #18
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

It is nice to have a longer sweep for sculling if your center thwart can not be moved fore and aft. Otherwise you end up kneeling in the bottom of the skiff to scull. I don't mind kneeling and I do not like having to carry three oars. I scull near everywhere and find it a wonderful way to get about. A sculling notch is the way to go but having a method of securing it from popping out is nice when surfing to the beach when your sweep becomes a rudder, when shooting down the face of a wave. The no effective reverse mode in sculling is a pain when you realize the set you took off on was better left to the boogie boarders.
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Old 09-07-2016, 15:31   #19
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

I read a really great article about sculling in Wooden Boat Magazine too many years ago, all kinds of good info but I think I gave it to a friend who never returned it. Sigh.

Anyhell, round vs horned oar locks? Seems like not being able to lose them is a big plus for round but there must be a downside otherwise why would there be horned ones. Any thoughts?
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Old 09-07-2016, 15:31   #20
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

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The dink is a Chameleon Nesting Dinghy designed by Danny Green with a length of 10' 4" and a beam of 4' 2" and has what looks to be a pretty fine entry. I am building the rowing/sailing version.

I thought the designer recommended 7' oars but when I went and quickly looked at plans I didn't see a specification. Maybe it's in there somewhere.

Since I know very little what are the pros and cons of round vs horned oar locks? I mean I guess but probably would be wrong.

Edit: looks like the beam inside the gunwales where the oarlocks would go is about 46" center to center.
Those Chameleon dinghys look good. It should reward the time spent setting it up to row nicely.

On rowlocks, I use closed round rowlocks with slippery plastic oar stops so there is no way they can get lost. The closed design means when you come alongside it is easy to lift the oar and rowlock out in one quick movement with nothing sticking up to scratch the paintwork. Also no chance in rough stuff or surf of an oar popping out.

I haven't used the thole pin style of closed rowlock, but bolger and others seem to like them, due to no problems with the oar walking itself in. I guess my slippery plastic leathers stop this happening, but I would like to give them a go. Rowlocks should be a reasonable fit to the oar, not too sloppy fore and aft, but loose enough vertically to not bind even at steep angles, so you can scull the boat sideways with one oar if needed.
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Old 09-07-2016, 16:00   #21
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

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... but there must be a downside otherwise why would there be horned ones. Any thoughts?
Because they look traditional. They did have an advantage on 30 foot ships boats with 15 foot oars. But not a small dinghy.
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Old 09-07-2016, 17:07   #22
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

You asked, so this is a touch long. But it's what I learned by having a hard dink as my primary, when living on the hook & a mooring for several years.


I strongly second most of what Snowpetrel's said. Especially with regards to having dinghy hull forms that are easy to row, & which are properly setup for the rower(s).
Dory's rock, handling wise! Get one with a tombstone stern.

Pick up a copy of Stan Grayson's The Dinghy Book. It covers most of your questions, & IIRC, the critical dimensions for; where oars locks are placed, seat height, & gunwale height, are in the text.
There's also mucho good information on dinks, & some of their key, little details, in Bruce Bingham's The Sailor's Sketchbook. He used a hard dink as his primary dink for many, many years, to even include lots of towing. So there are even tips on how to fit out your dink for the latter in said book.


Locations of the seat, & the gunwale height are critical. As, for example, while I truly like a lot of the features in the PT11 dinghy, if you look at it, the oarlocks are placed in risers on the gunwale. While I'd personally prefer to raise the gunwales height instead. As you gain bouyancy & stability in doing so.

Wiith poorly setup rowing positons, it's tough for the rower(s) to apply power efficiently to the oars, & to transfer same to the water. Plus which, such is a big safety issue, as without proper ergonomics, it's tougher to be able handle the dink in heavy weather, if at all. It's a make or break issue. And with a good setup, in a well designed dink, you can row in 40-50kts & 5' breakers with confidence & aplomb.

Also, in a lot of dinghies, the seat is placed too high in relation to the gunwales/oar position. As you need enough vertical seperation between the two for the rower to be able to lower his hands below gunwale level, while still having his hands & the oars easily clear his thighs when seated. And many dink's only have enough clearance in this spot to allow a thin, 140lb rower to do so, not a 220lb guy.


For oarlocks, go with round ones, with the biggest pin diameter that you can find. Usually bronze. And you want the sockets on the gunwales to be setup for large pin oarlocks, so that they can take any size oarlock. As big holes can take small pins, but not vice versa.


Use sewn on leather to protect the oars where they penetrate the oarlocks. As yes, tacking the leather in place is inviting rot & breakage in your oars. Plus, they generally don't stay in place as well as sewn on leather. Given that tacks get pinch & side loaded heavily when the boat's being rowed.
Also, I generally epoxy saturate & seal my oars, & then paint them. It aids their longevity, & paint's easier to keep up, on working oars. A place where function trumps pretty, given the severe duty that working dinks see.


A sculling notch is more optional than practical to me. Though you can build one to double as someplace to fit the ship's kedge anchor, when rowing it out.
But practically speaking, if you lose an oar, given that they're short, you're better off using them to paddle, canoe style. Which, yeah, is not practical for long distances, & is one more reason to have a dink that glides easily through the water.


Be sure to incorporate stout, repairable, gunwale strips. Ditto on a built in fendering system. Also, every working dink needs a few layers of sacrifical glass along the keel. As beaches & rocks eat up this area.
Install some non-stainless, brutishly sized towing eyes. Eyes being plural; to have a pair in the stem, & dual ones inside of the transom.


Many of the other little details that one wants to incorporate into a dink are in the above books. And some you'll discover the need for, or "invent", as you use the dinghy more.

PS: A set of handles on the outside of the transom are invaluable when carrying or lifting the dink. Ditto on dragging it around at times. And you may desire another set or three elsewhere. To sometimes include some for passengers to hold on to. And they're handy for lashing as well, so they should be backed & bolted accordingly.
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Old 09-07-2016, 17:43   #23
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

I row and cox 32 ft, 6 oar Pilot Gigs. The whole ergonomic efficiency changes when you fit a floor brace, called a stretcher, against which you can push with slightly bent legs.
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Old 09-07-2016, 18:40   #24
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

As it turns out I have just finished building a Chameleon and will be assembling the oars tomorrow and trying out the dinghy (rowing and sailing) this week. We went with 7 1/2 foot oars with spoon blades and round bronze oar locks. Certainly not an expert in such things, just following the advice of people who seem to know what they are doing.

Have fun building the Chameleon. It is more work that it appears at first glance, but quite rewarding. We got our plans from Danny Greene when we were in St. George's last year on our passage from the Caribbean to New England. Nice guy and very helpful.
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Old 10-07-2016, 05:14   #25
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

The Shaw and Tenney oar length formula -

"To help our customers size their oars correctly, we’ve been using the same formula since 1858: Measure the distance between the center of the port and starboard oar sockets, which hold the oar locks on each gunnel. This is called the “span” between the oarlocks. Divide the span by 2, and then add 2 to this number. The result is called the “inboard loom length” of the oar. Multiply the loom length by 25, and then divide that number by 7. The result is the proper oar length in inches. Round up or down to the closest 6” increment."

I found some threads on the subject on the woodenboat forum. A couple commentors suggested taking that number and rounding up for preformance or down for pleasure.

If I round down for my wife will I regret it later?

I would prefer the boat was easier to row than harder for her and she doesn't exactly have a lot of upper body strength. I don't suppose there are any lady rowers out there who would care to chime in?
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Old 10-07-2016, 05:32   #26
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Interestimg formula, but it doesn't take into account freeboard, or hull type. Eg take two hulls, both 48 inches wide. One is 7 foot long, the other is 15 foot. Id bet the shorter boat is going to feel and work better with shorter oars due to its slower speed for the same effort.

I'd also say 6 inch steps are too big to really get it right in every case. Especially for our smaller dinghys with smaller oars.

One thing I like about skinny bladed oars is the ability to increase or decrease 'slip' and effective gearing by changing the catch and the release. Much harder to do with bigger spoon blades.
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Old 10-07-2016, 06:08   #27
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

My very limited experience is that sculling requires a heavier boat or one with good directional stability. I built a Bolger NYMPH, 8', wide, light, flat bottom, tons of rocker, small skeg. Put a pretty little notch in the transom for sculling. Skinny me did not sink her deep in the water. The oar stayed still, the boat wig-wagged and made little progress. Just like the tail wagging the dog. Probably an extreme example, and better technique might have helped, but not every dink can be sculled readily.
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Old 10-07-2016, 06:16   #28
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

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Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
Interestimg formula, but it doesn't take into account freeboard, or hull type. Eg take two hulls, both 48 inches wide. One is 7 foot long, the other is 15 foot. Id bet the shorter boat is going to feel and work better with shorter oars due to its slower speed for the same effort.

I'd also say 6 inch steps are too big to really get it right in every case. Especially for our smaller dinghys with smaller oars.

One thing I like about skinny bladed oars is the ability to increase or decrease 'slip' and effective gearing by changing the catch and the release. Much harder to do with bigger spoon blades.
^ second that
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Old 10-07-2016, 06:40   #29
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

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My very limited experience is that sculling requires a heavier boat or one with good directional stability. I built a Bolger NYMPH, 8', wide, light, flat bottom, tons of rocker, small skeg. Put a pretty little notch in the transom for sculling. Skinny me did not sink her deep in the water. The oar stayed still, the boat wig-wagged and made little progress. Just like the tail wagging the dog. Probably an extreme example, and better technique might have helped, but not every dink can be sculled readily.
Solution: add a leeboard or dagger board.


As Archimedes was reported to say about a lever: Give me a place to stand.


Your sculling oar/yuloh/yaolu/ro is a sorta/kinda lever in the same way that a screw propeller is an lever/inclined plane.


You need to give your dinghy a place to stand - a keel, skeg, leeboard, dagger board etc will do the job.


A rowing oar is also a lever, but the blade is the fulcrum (the place to stand) and the oarlock is the load. Your hand is the effort.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:25   #30
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

It might be wisest to borrow a few different types & lengths of oars for her, or rather, both of you to try. And then let her pick her own pair. As there's nothing that says that you both have to use the same ones.
Though I'd try to avoid having a giant size disparity between them.

And having a spare pair around, in this case, a his & hers set, is rarely a bad idea. Plus, it'll likely be easier for you to row with her pair, if needed, than the other way around.

Another way to look at it is this. If she were getting into motorcycles, she'd need to pick out a bike that she was comfortable with, as opposed to you choosing it. So...
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