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Old 22-04-2011, 06:49   #1
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Questions about Oars

I've been rowing a lot more lately, even with the outboard working. at first there were a few days with a bad spark plug where it wasn't by choice.

I'm just using the Walker Bay oars that came with the dink. They have this heavy plastic type coating on them that is scraping and pealing off. I'm thinking of just stripping them entirely, and refinishing. What should I use? Varnish, polyurethane, what?

Or are the WB oars just junk entirely, and should I get new ones? Aluminum? I'm open to any suggestion. Really looking to do more rowing and less motoring.

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Old 22-04-2011, 06:52   #2
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Re: Questions about oars

How about a pair of wood oars? Just let the varnish wear away naturally and not worry about how they look? The wood is easier on things.


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Old 22-04-2011, 06:55   #3
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Re: Questions about oars

Won't the bare wood wear/rot faster?
That's my only concern, not looks.
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Old 22-04-2011, 07:47   #4
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Re: Questions about oars

We recently got a pair of 8' spo9on oars for our 10' dink. Sure added power and smoothness. I'd just paint your oars with one part polyurethane, and keep the can handy for touchup. Make sure it's a light color.
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Old 22-04-2011, 10:16   #5
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Re: Questions about oars

Probably more than you want to know, but Jim Michalak has a good series of articles on using and making oars here:

Jim Michalak´s Articles about oar building and rowing

And a neat plan for getting pair of oars out of two 7' or 8' 1x6s. I've made several pairs of these for my various boats, and they work great. I usually finish them with a coat or two of clear epoxy, with spar varnish over that. The epoxy helps keep the feather edges from splintering, and adds to the general toughness of the surface. Also, seems to help the varnish last longer on the oar. Of course, clear-finished oars look nice, but painted ones will probably last longer if exposed fulltime to direct sunlight.
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Old 22-04-2011, 16:30   #6
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Re: Questions about Oars

If your oars are stored indoors or out of the weather then varnish or poly stuff is ok. Most folks I know paint them white so they don't weather as much. I think the WB oars are ok but oarlock sockets will eventually give way on you. Our solution was to take a nice piece of wood (teak) and make a socket and bolt it where the old one had been. Those replacements have been working very well for a year or more and cost much less than replacements from Walker Bay.

Our club has 5 of the 10 footers.

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Old 22-04-2011, 16:42   #7
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Re: Questions about Oars

my walker bay oars lost their coating loong time ago--i willbe needing to protect and restore them-- cracks ar eforming, so i am gonna penetrat themk with epoxy then wrap with fiberglass and paint. mebbe i can make em last-- may be heavier, but is just more exercise.....
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Old 22-04-2011, 16:47   #8
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Re: Questions about Oars

I recently painted our oars a brilliant cherry red so that they would show up if lost and also deter light fingered gentry. Now I find that when the oars are on the deck or the cabin top, the red abrades on the anti slip and leaves marks. Maybe not a good idea after all!
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Old 22-04-2011, 17:19   #9
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Re: Questions about Oars

Oar-making 101
Built an Adirondack Guideboat/oars a year or so back and found a good tip in the notes of one of the famous old-time builders (Grant): To create the convex surfaces on either side of the blade, leaving a nice ridge down the center, use a 7" circular saw as a "router". It's just about the right diameter. Mount the saw with just enough of the arc of the blade exposed and drag the oar blank carefully across it. Saves a lot of hand work with gouges. Use 2x soft maple. Wood oars are easy to make and so much better than the flimsy junk that usually comes with most dinks. You can also make them the right length so you can get some purchase on the water. The ones that came with my inflatable are barely long enough to reach the water.
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Old 22-04-2011, 17:40   #10
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Re: Questions about Oars

If you want a new outlook on oars, and oarlocks, and rowing equipment, go to to look at what is used for whitewater rafting. Big oars are a real "power trip". If you set the boat up correctly, you can put your whole body into the pull. Of course, once you get used to that, well everything else looks like a toy.
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Old 23-04-2011, 06:49   #11
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Re: Questions about Oars

Wow! Thanks for all the tips. Fir the time being, I think I'm going to go withe epoxy and paint approach. Maybe blue, to match the Turtle...and the name in the Guppy.

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