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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm putting together a row frame for my boat. I'm newer to this stuff, we have paddled the Yellowstone and Gallitin several times each. I'm in ND so scrounging a crew can be hard. It has been easier to find people to tag along with..
I have some of Raft Frame, Cataraft, Cataraft frame, Whitewater Stern Frames oar towers, locks and tee's coming. I don't see any whitewater for me for the rest of the season. But I can hit a flat water float 3 or 4 times a week on the Missouri river. I plan on using this to learn to row, based on Gary's recommendations for oar length I'm getting 2 pairs of cheap wooden oars in 8 and 8.5ft lengths to figure out what will work for me before I buy some real whitewater oars
Break it down, am I on the right track? Do I need sleeves, rope wraps, oar rights ,pins and clips?
If I head up to the garrison dam at the right time I can catch a release that pushes 8 to 12 mph current depending on the releases. Lots of strainers and sieves to navigate.
Anyway school me on rowing.
 

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Lots o Posts

All these questions can and had been answered on other posts on MB. Before starting 7 posts in a week, try searching old posts. Not wanting to be a dick, but shit man! Search around and put some time in.
 

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willpaddle4food
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You're on the right track. Main thing is to get out there and row. I'd trust Gary's recommendations, too. My advice if you're starting, learn how to row without pins/clips OR oar rights: less hardware to buy now, you'll be on beginner water and you might as well learn how to row open locks while you're at it. You will probably need a rope wrap and a donut for an oar stop, depending on what kinda wooden oar you have. Not that hard to wrap an oar yourself, either. Go for it.
 

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Misspellingintothefuture!
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Watch out!!
You will be hooked, learned to boat as a commercial guide on paddle boats, and had to teach myself to row, have paddled twice in last 6 years now.

Things that jump to mind include, mind your down stream oar,can punch the [email protected]#t out of ya if it hits a rock( have complete dental record in 2 of my handles). All ways, preaty much, use both oars for everything, rowing is a lot like R-2 ing. Ship your oar/oars forward before tight spots so you don't take out passenger with handles or pretzle the shafts.

Back stroke is your more powerfull stroke, just like a paddle boat, but you won't be depending on people who can't back paddle!

6-8 mile an hour current with strainers sounds like a run to get plenty of time on the sticks before rowing.

If you end up going the rout of pins and clips, don't bother with the nrs stirrups, buy carlsons, or make your own out of a strip of plastic, cut from a 55 gallon drum.

Rowing seems easier then paddling to me now, partly cause there is not the speach delay while i call paddle commands, it is more like kayaking.

Enjoy!
 

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All these questions can and had been answered on other posts on MB. Before starting 7 posts in a week, try searching old posts. Not wanting to be a dick, but shit man! Search around and put some time in.
Relax, he's obviously done some research and he has some specifics to deal with. This forum is here to ask questions...it's not like he asked what was the best frame to buy!

phsyco...

First, I wouldn't necessarily waste money buying two sets of cheap 8 and 8.5 foot oars for several reasons... one; I doubt carlisle's are that much more than wood It'd be one thing if you planned on running wood oars, but if your just going to replace them it seems like a bit of a waste. If it were me I'd probably take a guess, get 8.5 polecats and duramax blades. I think your looking at about $150 an oar with carlisle type sleeves/stops. If they're long you can cut them down at the handle and you have solid, yet light oars. or if you're a tinkerer you could go with Gary's oars, make your own out of AL and just buy blades and handles... If need be I could probably make you some wood handles and ship them off.

Two a 6" difference is really pretty minor. You can usually make that up in your setup by sitting higher/lower, tipping the towers a little, etc. But hey, if you have a line on oars at least you'd have a workable spare... I guess in the end the cheap wood oars don't sound like a bad idea, I just think there may be better ideas out there.

As for pins and clips, oar rights etc. I agree wholly with what has already been said. Since your learning from scratch you might as well learn the better way (IMHO). I highly value being able to feather oars. Some don't and each to their own but I think it'll teach you better boat control and the best place to learn is on flat water. Learn the basics before you get into that faster water with strainers. You want rowing to be somewhat second nature before you start throwing consequences into the mix and it's super easy to panic/get confused/screw up when the shit hits the fan - I've seen it way too many times. Don't screw around with strainers!

Beyond that rowing is about coordination and ultimately it's about subtle differences in each arm/hand/wrist to keep you on track without having to move the boat alot and over correct.

First thing that was said to me is that new rowers ALWAYS row WAY too much (read as "hard" maybe...) and RPM's are king. Several smaller, lighter strokes are better than one power dig and the smaller the stroke the less likely it is to over correct you.

Edit, maybe substitute row way to much, to row way to hard, as in work to hard at it...
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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Lessons an old salt learned rowing pig boats;
1) Teach yourself from the beginning; do NOT put your thumbs on the end of the oar. Wrap them around the handle. An exposed thumb on the end of a flapping oar is an invitation to experiencing a whole new level of pain when you whack your thumb on the opposing oar end. Do NOT put your thumb on the end of the oar. Ever.
2) Do not allow your oars to flop in the water. In particular, keep your downstream oar out of the water unless you are actually using it. Nothing worse than catching that downstream oar on a submerged rock and busting stuff up. Plus, it marks you as an amateur, what with that stick flopping about.
3) Pull with your back and legs, not your arms. Your arms are only for guiding the oar, your strength is in your back and legs. Keep your arms straight through the power part of the stroke. A lot of old guides can show you their worn out shoulder and elbow and wrist X rays cause they didn't learn this.
4) Learn to use the current and work with it. Flailing about and bouncing around from bank to bank is neither efficient or safe. Be at one with the river spirits grasshopper! Besides, you're doing all the work and it's easy to tire yourself out before you get to the first rapid. You learn this faster rowing one of the old pig boats, but in any case, even casual observers are more impressed with the rig that just seems to arrive at the right spot at the right angle just when it needs to be there, rather than the flailing panicked rig smashing gleefully into every obstruction.
5) There's an old adage; rig to flip, dress to swim. Same applies to rowing. Consider the full range of your oar's swing; can it pin you against your seat? Can it smash your hand into that ammo can that sticks out? Will it give you a painful crack on the knee if you are incautious? A properly rigged oar boat will always leave you with an out if things get out of control.
 

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I'm still pretty new at this, but the phrase "Pull away from the hazard" has been helpful.
Of course you need to figure out WHEN to pull away from the hazard (pulling away too soon is a waste of energy; pulling when pushing would have been sufficient is a waste of energy -- pulling can be at odds with the flow; pulling when you are parallel with the current and pointing directly at the hazard will not accomplish much especially if the current is stronger than you are -- so be sure you have a good angle to the current to allow you to pull away and across the current. You may already know all this from paddling, but thought I would say it just in case).
I often like to float along close to and facing the shore at an angle; if there is a hazard at shore, I can pull back just a tad (again assuming I have the right ferry angle -- wherever the upstream end of the raft is pointing, that is the way it will tend to move across the current).
I assume the long-timers will correct me if I am misguiding!
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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I'm still pretty new at this, but the phrase "Pull away from the hazard" has been helpful.
Of course you need to figure out WHEN to pull away from the hazard (pulling away too soon is a waste of energy; pulling when pushing would have been sufficient is a waste of energy -- pulling can be at odds with the flow; pulling when you are parallel with the current and pointing directly at the hazard will not accomplish much especially if the current is stronger than you are -- so be sure you have a good angle to the current to allow you to pull away and across the current. You may already know all this from paddling, but thought I would say it just in case).
I often like to float along close to and facing the shore at an angle; if there is a hazard at shore, I can pull back just a tad (again assuming I have the right ferry angle -- wherever the upstream end of the raft is pointing, that is the way it will tend to move across the current).
I assume the long-timers will correct me if I am misguiding!
You are mostly correct; when rowing the basic rule is; nose to the trouble, but keep in mind it is the basic rule, and as in all things water related, the river Gods have a sense of humor.
Keeping at an angle to the current is a secret that can only be learned with experience and a good tutor (whether an old salt or the river God).
In particular with a rowing rig you need to keep in mind that you are not stronger than the current, working with it is the key.
I was never a fan of running the shore, I prefer the deeper water, wherever it may be. Nothing ruins your day quicker than hitting something with your boat, or worse, an oar.
 

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Lots of good pointers on this one. I'm with Andy on The Complete Whitewater Rafter book as a must have reference.
Send me your email ([email protected]) and I'll send you a document I put together for students in my river skills classes on rowing and paddling technique (Colorado Mountain College Outdoor Education Program). Not the definitive work, but a good starter read.
Cheers.
 

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Less is more.

An empty boat will find itself into the perfect line and stay there all day regardless of class. Add a human and it becomes more complicated, regardless of class. Add multiple humans and beer, then you have added mass, which adds momentum and tends to take you further out of the preferred low effort line.

Get the boat into the thalweg and you can expend minimum effort to stay there. But being able to identify that sweet spot in the current is the goal and will allow you to make simple adjustments to stay there. And remember the higher the flow the narrower the line.

Only a whole bunch of time on the oars will get you there.
 

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IMHO I'm pretty new to this myself. What I have found: thumb or no thumb you only need to get punched by that downstream oar once and you won't forget. Start pulling away earlier than you need to! I learned with oar wrights and wish I hadn't now that I know more. IMHO


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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the replies, some good info. I'll be reading this a few more times. And some more after I get my frame built.
 

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While it is true that you point the nose at the problem and try to back away, there are some problems with that. Modern self-bailers track amazingly well to where you point them. So if you point, do not hesitate on the back row, otherwise you are now moving at top speed at what you want to avoid.

It's also not all back-ferries. So times I get amazing speed on a forward ferry when a back is slooow.

Also, biggy, if you're going to hit a rock, T-up, try to take on your very front bow. Easier to pivot off. Taking things sideways usually results in unpleasant results.

I did both an oar guide class, and a paddle guide class. I row +99% of the time. What I got from paddle was forward moves, in addition to oar school back moves. I use both every time I boat. The more experienced you become, the more you develop different moves.
 

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As a novice, a few things have dawned on me.

Take a typical situation where you're back-rowing an upstream ferry angle to avoid some obstacle (hole or rock), and then you need to switch to a different angle (i.e. towards the opposite bank) once clear of the first obstacle, in order to avoid the next obstacle. If, before you've passed the first obstacle, you realize that you've pulled enough to be in the current to clear it, then you can go ahead and pivot the boat to be ready to pull to miss the second; you might even get a couple of strokes in (before clearing the first) to stop the momentum that's then sending you the wrong way (wrong to miss the second obstacle). Obviously this requires some experience to have confidence you're going to clear the first obstacle, since you'll then be facing the wrong way if you misjudged. I hope this makes sense; maybe someone more knowledgeable can correct/clarify.

Many times, as big a challenge as not flipping in rapids is making the miles. This requires staying in the current and missing eddies, and keeping up a rowing rhythm. This works a lot better if you use a stroke that you can sustain more or less indefinitely, rather than alternating rests and bursts of big strokes.
 

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Specific gear is going to be a long term trial and error process.

Technique....I definitely subscribe to the tools in the toolbox philosophy and warn against too many dogmatic "rules". If you can understand the "why" and limitations to such rules you are often better off in the long run.

Ferry angles are obviously key but I am guessing you already have those down from paddle rafting.

Pull strokes are powerful but if you watch enough videos, and as you gain experience, you will see people over-correcting with them as they enter bigger rapids and losing momentum to some predictable results. Knowing when to apply push and pull strokes takes some experimentation and river miles. I highly recommend playing with features early on to gain the knowledge sooner than later.

Playing with micro-features mid-river can be a high asset that I don't see as many paddle rigs using compared to oars rigs. Learning to nip and tuck with the aid of small eddies or slower water behind rocks can open up lines that are critical to success with oars. I know I am still learning to understand how my boat will behave in that regard and have learned a lot from my PNW boating mentors. I spent years playing follow the leader (and losing several beers betting on it) on easy Class II and III pool drops rivers taking lines they may not have been the most direct at the time but taught me how to confidently maneuver my rig more effectively and efficiently in the long run. It really paid off when I rowed the Selway several years ago.

Miles on the water. Have fun with the transition.

Phillip
 

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Just rowed all 85 miles of Deso- if I had a pussy it would have been sore too

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check out this discussion on rowing technique for longer distances:
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/3-5hp-motor-sufficient-57896-2.html

at the end of the day, the only way to learn how to dance is to get on the floor and dance. Keep in mind this rule: it's best to learn hard moves on easy water. I like class II - I have time to look at the scenery.
 

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check out this discussion on rowing technique for longer distances:
http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/3-5hp-motor-sufficient-57896-2.html
Lotta talk about motors, but none that I see, about long-distance rowing. Wrong link maybe ?

at the end of the day, the only way to learn how to dance is to get on the floor and dance.
True. But having a few things explained can help accelerate the process. If someone had told me the two things I mentioned in post #16, if would have helped me a lot.
 
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