After renting a Cataraft built for two and rowing down the Willow from the bridge I have a question about oars.
Most of my experience, no all my experience is rowing a 16 flatbottom boat save the trip mentioned above. On this trip with the cat the oars that came with the rental were fiberglass I think. They had IMO a lot of flex and I didn't much care for. Also they were shorter than I thought they would be. I understand that with a rental you need to consider many things, (I rent boats). These oars did fine and it was a blast and I am in no way dissing the rental or the craft. I just don't have time in this type of boat to have a good idea what works better.
The boat I was in was a Bucks "Double Buck" 13 feet.
1) Aluminum or composite shafts
2) How close together do you prefer the oar to come at the chest?
I prefer composite shafts. They are lighter, stronger and have more flex than aluminum. I like the flex as they are a little easier on your joints, but the lighter weight is more of an issue. Also, I have broken several two piece aluminum shafts from just pulling real hard when they are against a rock or something. You wouldn't think it would happen, but it does. Also, the composite shafts float for a while, and the aluminum ones sink. I've lost a couple that way too. Clumsy me.
BTW, I have never need to break down two piece oars to get them into an small airplane. So far just taking off the blades makes them short enough to fit in. Besides, I have raft frame parts that are longer than my one piece shafts, so if they fit the oars will too. One piece shafts are stronger, lighter, and cheaper. Just something to think about.
Distance between the handles is a personal choice. I prefer they have enough separation to go past my chest if I lean back a bit. This makes it easier to swing the blades to the front while sliding through narrow slots. In that position they are quicker to get back into play than if you swing the handles to the front. This is especially true if you are approaching a drop or hole where you will need to push to get through it.
Other people like the oar handles closer together and never plan on swinging the handles behind them. I know at least one oarsman that prefers that the handles overlap each other by several inches like they might on some rowing skulls. I don't think that is a safe position for whitewater, but to each his own.
Thanks for the responce. I will give greater thought to the composite shaft before I purchase. I will not be doing aggressive floats at least for a few years. Most of mine will be spring and fall cause I am required to be somewhere else all summer. Also most will be with my wife who don't do bubbly water.
The flex on the oars I used might explain why I am not as sore as I expected to be. Aw well the rowing season for me is about to begin.
Thanks again and have a great rest of the summer,
Oars: more questions...
When it comes to composite oar shafts, would the SGG type be the best choice for Alaska? Probably there's a range of opinions, but seems like I see mostly aluminum shaft oars on rafts here.
In a quick search, I found 3 types of oar shafts:
1. Aluminum shaft coated with polyethylene tubing; flexible and lowest cost
2. Flexible Composite: wound glass/carbon fiber/epoxy (example: Cataract SGG); spendier and lighter
3. Stiffer Composite: wound glass/carbon fiber/epoxy, but in a 1/3 lighter stiffer combination (example: Cataract SGX); lightest, stiffest and most expensive