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.
: 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.