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Old 09-07-2016, 05:12   #1
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Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Can't say I have ever given the subject much thought. Seems pretty straight forward right?

Well, I am nearing the end of a dinghy building project which means it's time to do some shopping. Who knew there were so many options for oarlocks? Clamp-on, round, horned, horned with pins, top-mount, side-mount, captive, galvanized, bronze, nylon?

Then there are the oars themselves. Ash, spruce, boxwood, carbon fibre, or "synthetic" which I think is just a plastic blade on a metal tube? Oar leathers? I understand the tacks used to secure them can lead to rot, are turks heads better? Do I even need them?

Will I regret it later if I don't put in a sculling notch now? Do I need one or can I just put another oarlock mount on the transom? Would that be better? On center or off to one side? Can you effectively scull with an oar you use for rowing or does it have to be longer? I'm just thinking in a pinch like if you lose one oar.

As always you thoughts and wisdom are appreciated!
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Old 09-07-2016, 05:57   #2
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

The minutia will drive you crazier.

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Old 09-07-2016, 06:19   #3
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

I will be interested to see what you determine is best for your dinghy.

It has been a long time since I earned my Rowing merit badge in Scouts, but rowing has always appealed to me and I hope to get a dink that is good for rowing and sailing.

I have been greatly impressed by the PT11 sailing and nesting dinghy. I would take a look at what they have chosen for their gear.
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Old 09-07-2016, 06:21   #4
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

In general, sculling is a more efficient way to turn muscular energy into the kinetic energy of the boat. That's partly because the blade of a sculling oar is always in the water, so you are (i) not using energy on the recovery stroke; and (ii) the sculling oar is always propelling the boat.

Sculling oars are generally significantly longer than rowing oars.

Back to rowing oars and gear:

I like an oar about twice as long as the beam of the dinghy.

More important than the style of oarlock is the number of oarlock sockets. Six is a great number, giving you three locations from which to row and allowing flexibility in carrying gear (big sailbags, cartons etc) and the number and size of passengers.

A round oarlock (a circle on top of the tholepin) captures the oar. Rather than a leather, you should be able to find rubber oar sleeves (aka oar collars) the thickness and durability of the rubber collars being the advantage over leather. Then I suggest adding a hose clamp to capture the oarlock to the oar.

Fitting the oar collars such that you have about 2"/5cm of clearance between the two inboard ends of the oar will allow you to use a long stroke for distance work. The alternative is the fisherman style of overlapping oar ends.
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Old 09-07-2016, 06:54   #5
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Getting exactly the right oar length is the most critical part. A few inches makes an enormous difference in gearing. I normally get them overlength and slowly trim them until I'm happy. I prefer to row without crossed looms (but they are almost touching) unless I am punching into a wind where it can be handy to gear down slightly by sliding the oars in an inch or two and crossing looms to make space.

I like skiny symetrical blades, but then I also use a greenland paddle when I kayak. I feel big spoon blades give to much snatch for a heavy dinghy, and they don't give me the same sort of control over the blade angle that I like.

I prefer closed rowlocks that are attached to the oars. Less chance of losing them, and no problems in rough water with them jumping out.

I like the chafe protection and oar stop to be slippery so I can feather the oars and easily adjust the angle of attack and length during the stroke. I use a hard plastic slip on combined oar stop and collar. I hate the rubber ones with a passion. Set the stop inboard enough so the oar doesnt sit against it during normal rowing.

The other key things are getting the seat height and rowlock position just right. Its so important that I like to clamp on the rowlocks for testing before final fitting. If they are set inside the gunwale or outside makes a big difference to the leverage and oar length. If they are inside they often need to be raised so the oar doesnt foul on the gunwale fendering. The other thing that is absolutely essential are good foot braces.

These little things make such a big difference. Sadly most dinghys are never properly tuned for rowing and many people have never experienced how nice it can be to row a well set up dink.

I normally just use cheap pine oars, they are ok in the smaller sizes. But one day I would like to make a nice set of lightweight oars with balanced square looms and nice tapered shafts, and a bit of fibreglass on the end to protect them from rocks.

What sort of dinghy have you built?
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:12   #6
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

A sculling notch is a handy thing, great for rowing out anchors and the like, and strong and simple.

A normal oar does a reasonable job for sculling, but a strong sculling stroke will overload them pretty easily. My brother was banned from sculling after he snapped nearly every oar onboard as a kid by sculling very hard and fast with both hands. Mind you normally sculling is pretty relaxed. Its a handy skill for wriggling in and out of tight spaces. I dont rate it as overly efficient unless its rigged like a yuloh.

You can use rowlocks on the stern instead, they are not as strong, but they do work ok if you are gentle. They raise the oar slightly which can be a disadvantage.

I like the notch on the centre, so I can scull hard with both hands if needed, and it works best for the technique I was taught, but I guess it could go slightly offset, though that limits you to one arm, rather than being able to alternate.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:23   #7
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

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.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:34   #8
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

The more you row, the more you appreciate good oars. I love the carbon ones but I would not have them in a dinghy - too vulnerable and too eye catching. A pair of well measured and shaped pine or spruce oars will do great in any small rowing dinghy. Testing more than one set/design is a bonus - we all have our preferences and every body is slightly different.

Fixed oarlocks are fine for ignorants and beginners and locks that allow you to feather the oar are very good choice as you gain skill, muscle and proficiency. Such oars should have a security leash and oars should have some way of securing them too. Just in case the dinghy flops one day.

Having a lock or a notch for sculling is great and if you are on one set of oars and want to scull too, then you are building longer rather than shorter oars. The sculling oar will have a nice well formed immersed part. There is a special kind called yuloh I think that is the weapon of choice if you want to scull a lot or over longer distances. It is 'bent' and the immersed part is asymmetric.

I love rowing and so does my mate. A shame we only ever have inflatables on our sailing boat ;-(

Cheers,
b.
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:23   #9
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Ask the Apprenticeship shop in Rockport Maine: The Apprenticeshop
They can steer you to books, plans, and all sorts of stuff about rowboats.
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:47   #10
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

A man that passed through our marina builds these SOF (skin over frame) dinghies each winter. We fell in love with it but couldn't justify spending all that money. Before he left for Alaska he told us we were borrowing it for the summer and he would pick it up on his way back south in September. (How cool is that? ) We got ash oars and they work well. I love this dinghy!

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Old 09-07-2016, 08:59   #11
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Can't say I have ever given the subject much thought. Seems pretty straight forward right?

Well, I am nearing the end of a dinghy building project

Are you kidding? Arn't oarlocks, oars etc an intregal part of a boat design??
How can you build one without any idea of the hull designs opitimum location of its main power?

Do sail boat builders just shove the mast in somewhere theres a bit of unused space?

Do ship builders build the ship then put an engine somewhere "below"?

I think you better get onto the designer quick-smart.


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Old 09-07-2016, 09:16   #12
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Are you kidding? Arn't oarlocks, oars etc an intregal part of a boat design??
How can you build one without any idea of the hull designs opitimum location of its main power?

Do sail boat builders just shove the mast in somewhere theres a bit of unused space?

Do ship builders build the ship then put an engine somewhere "below"?

I think you better get onto the designer quick-smart.


Mark
Sorry. I've maybe been thinking too far ahead, like how I should store my sextant in the bow locker in case I suddenly have to abandon ship in the middle of the night.

But hey, better late than never to focus on more immediate concerns, like how I am going to row the damn thing!

The designer provides locations for the oar locks but doesn't have a lot of detail beyond that. Good thing I have CF to cover my ass when it comes to the nitty gritty.
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Old 09-07-2016, 09:23   #13
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Here's a link to one of the oldest and best oar and paddle makers, along with keys to length guides and accessories :

http://www.shawandtenney.com/product-category/traditional-oars

I've had my 7.5' spoon blades for 3 years on 10.5' nesting dink with two row stations. Love 'em and built a thru transom port with PVC tube for access.
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Old 09-07-2016, 09:32   #14
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

To give a quickie answer.. 1# Solo, get the ideal longitudinal spot for center seat. Too much fore and you never go straight, too back kills the speed. With gear just load right to have the same but deeper trim. 2# With one passanger set him/her to stern seat and find the sweet spot for the oarsman. This is the place for the bow seat. 3# Oarlocks, sit on the seat arms down from elbows bend 90 deg forward fingers straight. There's position for oarlocks. 4# Seat hight should be at least 15cm/6" below the oars leweled horizontally. The closer to tights more relaxing to row, in calm water. Choppy you slam the oars on back stroke on the water constantly. So make you pick or have adjustable seat hight. 5# Footrest. Without good footrest to keep you in your place is PAIN. Another footrest for the another pair of foots sometimes hanging from the butt of another oarsperson. 6# Oar length. Long for calm. Short for choppy, again your pick..

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Old 09-07-2016, 10:44   #15
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Re: Sailor's Guide To Rowing

Just finished building a PT11 and love it. Rows great and sails great as well!
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