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Old 04-25-2008   #11
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,404
Thanks everybody!

I think I'm going to get the 8 1/2 foot breakdown oars for the mini-me and see how they work. I don't want to be standing up the whole time, but I want to row narrow stuff with that little boat too. This fits the 1/3-2/3 rule with the blades sunk and a couple feet away from the boat. I'll try a few different lengths before my Canyon trip to find what I like for the big boat.

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Old 04-25-2008   #12
DanRauer's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 137
I'll try to keep this short............

I have had this problem on several boats that I have had. I'll fill you in with the most recent problem. I was on a Grand trip this past March. I ran a large JPW cataraft that I just purchased using a frame I had before on a smaller cat (16') . On the small cat I ran 9' oars which were too short for the boat. To combat this I turned my oar towers in to make to feel like I had a shorter oar. This worked fine on the small boat. When I got the new boat I bought 10' oars thinking that that was the size I needed. So I left the towers turned in and setup the oars based on that. I would say that it was slightly less than 1/3 of my oar inside my locks, but I thought with the bigger oar and flex I would be ok. It was far from ok. For the first 80 miles I got my ass handed to me in nearly every rapid. I was rattled hard, and I don't really get rattled. At camp after a scary run through Sockdoglar I was sitting by the fire drinking away my nerves and being pretty silent thinking that tomorrow I'm going through Horn, Granite, Crystal you know. My bro asked me what was up so I told him that I was having problems controlling my boat and I thought I was facing disaster tomorrow. He says, you know to me it looks like your oars are not set up right and seem short on length inside the oar lock. I got up stumbled over to me boat to find that the dude was right and I really never noticed that. Then I figured that I could not take any worst lines than I already was, and change needed to happen right then. So, 80 miles in I completely changed my oar setup. Moved the towers out and slid the oars in and raised the seat. Sounds like a small adjustment, but it was not. The first stroke I took I could feel the power and the flex of the oar that I was not feeling before. For the rest of the trip I regained my confidence and started killing shit. Leverage is key.

My point is that oar geometry is EVERYTHING when it comes to power. I would not guess and I would not rely on the NRS charts (they don't account for seat height). Borrow a set from someone else and see where it lands in the water. These guys are right in 1/3 the length in side the oar locks. Try to get the towers setup at the right height and get the right length oar so in the middle of your power stroke your hands are about nipple height. The higher your stoke, the less power. In my experience it is better to have a longer oar the a shorter oar. Try some on your boat before you spend $, that you will loose anyway when you realize that your oars are too short.

Sorry this is so long, but this has been a problem for me for years and I just starting to figure out what feels "right".

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Old 04-26-2008   #13
laughing water's Avatar
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 32
Stay away from Carlisle.

I know, I know. You're all set up for Carlisle oars. Me, too.
Last season I had to rescue a novice boater in our trip. He had gotten himself and his family into grave danger (Is there any other kind?). To effect the rescue I had to sacrifice my own boat into a rock wall. I am glad to say the outcome was good, all safe, and I was paid many cold beers for my services. But, the handle of my oar impacted the wall, snapped off and was given up to the river gods.
When I contacted my local and, indeed, every national outfitter, I found that one can no longer purchase a $10 handle.
JOHNSON OUTDOORS bought Carlisle and has discontinued selling the handle. They want you to buy a whole new $100 oar. They will soon discontinue selling the blade as well. Even though every outfitter in the U.S. has sold out of them (the market exists and the need is there!), you cannot buy the replacement parts for the Carlisle oars.
Look, instead, to CATARACT OARS . Cataract oars are strong, lightweight and, best of all, you can buy the component you need instead of being forced to purchase a whole, new system at ten times the cost. I have Cataracts as well and they sell a great product.

As for length. I find an 11' oar with an 8" blade on my 17' boat is ideal for big river running like the Green and the Colorado, but only in flat water. If I will be running any serious whitewater, I switch out to a shorter shaft and a narrower blade.
Bottom line. You have to find the oars that suit you. There is no mathmatical computation for a solution.

Originally Posted by Randaddy View Post
So I
Originally Posted by Randaddy View Post
need some advice, and as always, I am willing to listen to a bunch of homeless alcoholics.

So I bought a mini-me and I'm getting a sweet little frame for it so I can roll solo or with a special lady (Yes, by special lady I mean labrador...) I need oars for this. I have heard that some people use 8' oars for the mini me. Anyone have any experience with this? Has anyone used the breakdown carlisle oars? My car is a shoe-box. Any frame/towers/locks advice for a little boat would be appreciated too.

Part deaux: I need oars for my Canyon trip. I will be buying a 15-16' boat, probably Hyside or NRS. How long do people like their oars? Is 9' a good length? How do you determine what is the right size?

Now here's the kicker: I want the oars I get for the mini-me to be my spares. So say I get 8' oars and put the 1' extenders on. This gives me 9' oars. What if I want longer? (or shorter oars for the mini-me?) So, you get the picture, I might find myself with spare oars that are breakdown with extensions on them. Is this a problem? I rowed Westy with extended oars last weekend, but I don't have any idea how long they were. They seemed pretty solid.

Any advice is welcome. Thanks!
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Old 04-26-2008   #14
laughing water's Avatar
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 32
Spare towers!

You have a great point! I got a spare for my Speed-Rail frame. It breaks down to fit in my patch kit ammo-can. I got it before my last Grand trip. Everyone has spare oars, but if you (foul) up an oar tower on a wall or a rock or flipped in some shallows, you're up a stream of manure! You'll spend the next 20 days rowing with your oar strapped to your frame. That sucks! I know. Been there, done that in Westwater on another boat.

Originally Posted by Dave Frank View Post
Just say no to 8 foot oars. I'm no rafting expert, but length of the boat shouldn't matter nearly as much as frame width. Oars are for strength and leverage. If you put your handle such that you less than 1/3 to the inside, it really gets no leverage. I cant' imagine wanting less than a full 10 footer on a GC rig, so get 9s for the mm and extensions to make them into spares.

Keep your frame as wide as is practical. You don't want the oarlocks way out in space, bouncing off of rocks. A commonly overlooked spare item is the oar tower. if you flip in shallows expect to f*** them up. I keep meaning to kep 2 in my kit.

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