Wednesday, April 8, 2015
While winter storms raged, four sets of oars emerged from the Doryman boatyard. Two sets of sweeps were refurbished and two were new.
I'd like to call attention to buttons, otherwise known as collars. I'm not in the habit of using buttons on my oars, so they are new to me.
Rowing racers call them collars and they are used for positioning the oars. Mere mortals install buttons on the upper end of the chaffing leathers to keep the oars from sliding though the oarlock and out to sea.
The oars pictured here are to be used for two very different boats, by a person accustomed to using buttons for oar positioning. Thus, you will notice two buttons per oar. These oars are also indexed, which means they have at least two flat surfaces, in the pulling and return positions, to facilitate feathering.
As I said, I've rowed for many years without these aids, but was informed by a competitive rower a couple years back that I was no rower at all if my oars had no collars.
I did not wish to be left out of my favorite activity, so here you see the result: chaffing protection and buttons made of leather. You can purchase these items made of plastic but they cost a small fortune and have no soul.
A very good dissertation on oar design can be found by my friend Tom, at Grapeview Point Boat Works.
Now that spring has arrived, I can be found out in the yard under the cherry tree, sanding and scraping the flat iron skiff, Stewball.
Here we see Stewball last spring, in her "before" condition.
To those who claim a fiberglass boat will outlast a wood one, I present exhibit #1. Stewball is 75 years young, showing her age with grace.
Her hull has been repainted with oil based enamel and her interior stripped of paint. The process of oiling the dry planks has begun. A certain amount of patina will remain of necessity, weathered wood can stain very deep.
One of my favorite designers, Captain Pete Culler, dictated that the interior of a cross-planked bottom should not be oiled or painted. I think in this case, I will follow his advice and leave the pine boards bare.
The cherry blossoms in the photos are a bonus. It did no good to sweep them out - by the time the camera was ready, they'd been replaced.
Stewball will be on the water in a couple weeks. Please stay tuned.