Sitka spruce allows oars to be strong yet light, making handling easy even in the longer oar lengths and minimising the effort needed for rowing. We are extremely lucky to be given an insight into how the traditional craft of wooden boatbuilding is still being practised and perfected today, as Yvonne Green, Principal of the Boat Building Academy, in the following excerpt from a wider interview, outlines how a simple clinker boat and set of oars is handcrafted by a team of expert boat-builders from the Boat Building Academy, Lyme Regis in Dorset.
One rowing station, one set of leather dressed oars, oar security brass , floor boards, custom paint scheme of your choice. Compared to the cracking that normally occurs with production-made wooden paddles and oars when the blade is dented, a coating of G/flex can offer a huge benefit. The goal of the paddle is to push against the water so that the boat goes forward. Now one can finish the oar with abrasives to a good smooth finish, removing any final lumps and bumps.
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. The primary propulsion will be wind, and when needed I think the 8ft oars will serve well and in my experience, even if they may be a bit short, they will be handier than a paddle.
The bottom line is that the oar length can be calculated based on lengths AB and CD, and vertical distances FG and FH. With minimal effort, each of these dimensions can be determined for any combination of drift boat and oarsman. You can even paint to match your boat of simply finish with any high quality preservative for years of use. Choose your material carefully so you don’t end up with a warped oar 🙁 as I did in my wooden oar making experiment.
Pine is weaker than spruce, unless southern pine, which is seldom found for sale untreated. There is no advantage if you keep the oars out of the weather anyway, especially if you keep a good quality finish on it, which also acts to preserve the wood. With wooden oars, you can row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, or anywhere you please. If you are popping out of your oarlocks when rowing your oars are far too short. If a boat runs slowly into another entity , it will bounce off and change direction.
Figure 2 is a schematic of the same drift boat floating in the water, but now the left-side oar is dipped into the water such that the paddle is fully submerged up to point B. This is the assumed typical stroke position of the oar. Whenever you are not applying power, your boat is slowing down and the slower it gets the more effort required to bring it back up to speed. Wide blades help you power your boat quickly and with efficiency, but often require more energy to maneuver.
All oars have turned handles to give you the best-possible rowing experience, and are finished in two coats of thick marine-grade lacquer. Stiched the leather onto the oar with 0.8mm three-strand waxed sail thread/twine and a sailing needle. An example would be rowing a shallow river with fairly steep gradient i.e. the Middle Fork of the Salmon requires an oarsman to not allow his downstream oar to interact with the river bottom causing broken oars, sprung oarlocks or an oar being shot from the boat like an arrow. If the boat is moving quickly enough that splashes are appearing behind it, running into an entity or block will crash the boat.
Cut the oar blanks out of the plank first, then with the pieces left over, glue them to the shaft of the oar to thicken and strengthen. Dress your new timber oars up with traditional genuine leather oar collars or go for a modern look with tough Scotty plastic oar collars , also made in Canada. Lightweight, durable, and resistant to rust and rot, these oars make a great stowaway on any boat. The factors are the width of the boat between the oarlocks and the height of the oarlocks above the waterline.
If you are worried about the strength you can always make them a bit larger diameter at the oar lock area (the point of highest stress). That way the oars will be a close match on weight, stiffness, and color I like to use soft wood like pine, It is easy to work and makes a light oar. Mast, sprit, sail, one set of oars with leathers, oar security brass, brass oar fittings, center board case, center board, tiller, rudder, rigging, brass tow ring, custom paint scheme.