Cataract: The Titanic of Oars - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-10-2013   #1
 
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Cataract: The Titanic of Oars

Don't get me wrong. I love my Cataract oars. But a few years back, my brother dropped an oar in the Middle Fork. At first, it floated like a wooden oar, horizontal on the surface. Then it went vertical, like the Titanic, and slipped slowly under water. Same thing happened to my daughter's oar in the Grand Canyon a year later.

Yesterday I decided to seal the plugs in the bottoms of my oar shafts, but when I removed the blades, I was amazed to discover that there were no plugs--never had been any. I'm guessing that Cataract blades incorporate some kind of seal to compensate for the lack of plugs in the oar shafts, so maybe this is punishment for using Carlisle blades on my Cataract shafts.

I contacted Cataract, and they said they'd send me plugs at no charge, but I didn't want to risk not getting them in time for my next trip, so here's my cure:


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Old 06-10-2013   #2
 
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counterbalanced or not counterbalanced?

I'm assuming you are referring to standard shafts. the counterbalance plus the weight of the oar exceeds the weight of the displaced water and they will sink whatever you do unless you add extra external floatation.

also based on your description they must have stayed pretty much level and then you saw the tip of the blades right before they disappeared ...

they make these things called oar tethers that effectively also prevent an oar from waving bye bye ...
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Old 06-10-2013   #3
 
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Not counterbalanced. If you aren't strong enough to hold your oars out of the water, you have no business rowing a raft.

The oars sunk blade first. The last thing we saw was the handle.
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Old 06-10-2013   #4
 
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Originally Posted by The Mogur View Post
Not counterbalanced. If you aren't strong enough to hold your oars out of the water, you have no business rowing a raft.

The oars sunk blade first. The last thing we saw was the handle.
Sorry to hear about all of your lost oars, expensive loss. Nothing more frustrating then investing in a quality piece of equipment only to lose it so soon.

Guess I am officially in the realm of weaklings who shouldn't be on the river. Been rowing counterbalanced cataracts this season and I have no reason to go back to other options. Not sure its about being strong enough (though admittedly I lack the standard macho gene) and more about efficient use of energy. Spent most of my rowing life using heavy and rigid Carlisle oars....does that gain me some street cred for rowing worthiness? THough I will say, rowing the Selway last year with wooden oars provided a different experience that I enjoyed.

As a thought experiment.....if you aren't smart enough to use an oar tether than you have no business rowing a raft? Understand how that may come across? Might be a few more shades of grey out there then you seem to vocalize.

Hope the new system works the way you hope.

Phillip
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Old 06-10-2013   #5
 
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Originally Posted by The Mogur View Post
Not counterbalanced. If you aren't strong enough to hold your oars out of the water, you have no business rowing a raft.

The oars sunk blade first. The last thing we saw was the handle.
This makes no sense. How heavy / what type are the blades you were using?

I would assume if the blades were neg bouyant they would drop vertical and you'd have about 2 or three feet of shaft out of the water. Once the shaft goes vertical there is almost no way for the air to get displaced from inside the handles.

Cataract blades are positively buoyant, I think

I can see however how sealing them should at least give you another pound or so of buoyancy (the weight of the volume of water that can fill the shaft)
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Old 06-10-2013   #6
 
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I've struggled with this debate in my head for awhile. I have cataracts with the magnum blade (HATE the Carlisle blades) not counter balanced. While I don't want to lose an oar if I flip and don't have oar tethers (watching one sink would be a serious bummer), I also have real concerns about using oar tethers. They just seem like terrifying entrapment hazards to me. If I'm swimming after a flip and get wrapped up in a tether attached to an oar it seems like things could go bad fast. So far I've stuck with risking an oar rather than risking a life and skipped tethers.
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Old 06-10-2013   #7
 
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Sorry Phil, I spoke hastily--mainly because the counter-weight question has been thoroughly hashed over. I strongly suspect that most people who find the need to weight their oars are using oars that are too long for the distance between their oarlocks, or they are allowing too much space between the handles.

For most rowers, the optimum oar length will be 1.5 times the distance between the oarlocks (6' between oarlocks means 9' oars), and the oar stops or clips should be 2/3 of the way up the oar from the tip of the blade.

I often see oars set up with the oar stops or clips 3/4 of the way up the oar. That is bound to make the oars feel heavy. With that kind of position, your rowing leverage would be greatly reduced, and you would need to be a much stronger rower.

So, Phil, and all of you short-handle oarsmen, you are not weak. You are probably stronger than I am. But still, I'm a fairly good boatman, and I stand by the time-tested formula.
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Old 06-10-2013   #8
 
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Another counterbalance wimp here. Use'em, Love'em. Anything that helps me out on long days of rowing is good by me. I'd love to be rowing for the next 20 years if I can, and if that means using counterbalance oars to get me there, then so be it.

Sucks that you lost oars. Hope your system helps. Let us know how it works out.
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Old 06-10-2013   #9
 
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Originally Posted by Avatard View Post
What type are the blades you were using?

Once the shaft goes vertical there is almost no way for the air to get displaced from inside the handles.
As I said, I'm using Carlisle outfitter blades, not Cataract blades (the reason I made this choice is a subject for a different thread).

As to how the air gets out, the handles are not airtight. They do allow air to seep out. When I figure out how to seal them, I'll let you know.
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Old 06-10-2013   #10
 
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Originally Posted by Pcdc2 View Post
I've struggled with this debate in my head for awhile. I have cataracts with the magnum blade (HATE the Carlisle blades) not counter balanced. While I don't want to lose an oar if I flip and don't have oar tethers (watching one sink would be a serious bummer), I also have real concerns about using oar tethers. They just seem like terrifying entrapment hazards to me. If I'm swimming after a flip and get wrapped up in a tether attached to an oar it seems like things could go bad fast. So far I've stuck with risking an oar rather than risking a life and skipped tethers.
Cat blades and cat shaft combo alone may be positively buoyant even if full of water. If not, sealing them would ensure that. I guess it depends if the fiberglass and resin floats. Should have checked this last time I cut some.

The issue with no tethers is do you feel lucky if you flip? You and your oars can be separated by miles if you eddy out and your oar continues on. A short tether with a quick release buckle resolves this.

Get the yellow shafts they are easier to spot on the river than the blue
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