Oarlock Resolution

UNA’s winter “To Do List” is actually shrinking. Most of the tasks have been subtle refinements like loops for the reefing crinkles along with rings and snap hooks for easier use of that gear. The previously used cunningham hooks dropped out repeatedly when reef lines weren’t tensioned. Flailing hooks while raising or lowering the sail are never good. Scratch that off the List.

Dynema loops and bronze snap hook.


Mainsail reefing tack and micro block.

Other improvements like the tent and associated canvas storage bags will keep things neat and functional. One item on the list was not one I relished taking on, but it needed to be done. As a sail and oar boat, one of UNA’s strengths should be rowing. After several sessions behind the oars, I finally come to the realization that my little boat needed a better set up. Despite all the testing and fitting of oarlocks in the garage during the build, the in the water test was lacking. At first I attributed the deficiency to my lack of skill (some may still be that). The main reason? The inboard gunwale mounted oar sockets did not get the horns high enough for the oar to clear the outboard edge of the gunwale if one really horsed on the oars and dug deep.

First try: angled sockets.
Angled again.

The solution was to raise the sockets 1/2-3/4″. I did not see an elegant solution with the current angled sockets, so I removed them, fared the gunwale, fashioned new pads from cherry scraps, and fitted standard sockets to them.

New cherry pad temporarily mounted.


Old mounting holes plugged.

I thought the new sockets would be more locked in if semi-recessed. With nearly 10′ oars, there is a tremendous load exerted on this part of the boat. A barbed drill bit and some chisel action helped pare the pad down.

Socket recess.


The old sockets will go toward the dinghy “Gigi”. She hangs in the shed now ready for some sanding and paint. Warmer temps are needed for that.

Socket pads are now epoxied onto the boat. Varnish coats will have to wait for some warmer couple of days. Epoxy was coated inside the body of the pad as well as inside the hole now in the gunnel for the socket and horn to protrude and weep any water that might otherwise collect.


I think this will be a big improvement. The focus can now be on slimming the oar shafts down a tad for a springier pull and thereby lighten the outboard ends for better balanced sculls. Cheers-

2 thoughts on “Oarlock Resolution

  1. Hey Clint! I've been following your new venture with interest. I wish you the best.

    Yes, I'm anxious for warmer weather to test this little boat's systems more. I need to find a copy of “Oars for Pleasure Rowing : Their Design and Use” by Andrew B. Steever. Had one ordered, but then was told it wasn't available. I do have R.D. Culler's “Boats, Oars and Rowing”. That has been helpful.

    The oars need work. I think they are too stiff and not properly balanced. The thought of reworking them doesn't appeal too much, but a nice Spring day would help.

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