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Thread: Oar leashes: pros and cons?

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Question Oar leashes: pros and cons?

    Oar leashes seem like a good idea, but locally at least, I don't see them much. Do experienced rafters use oar leashes when floating remote Alaska rivers?

    Thanks.

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    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Default

    I never launch without leashes attached. Be it a quick trip down the Upper Kenai or 10 days remote floating.


    An ounce of prevention........
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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Yes and no-

    I'm not consistent with it. I ran them for the first time on a new boat I purchased, because it's rigged with oarlocks and Oar Rights. But on my pins and clips boats, I have not used tethers. My thought was that my clips are pretty tight, making it unlikely that an oar will simply fall off the boat. The other thing is that until last summer I never really ran any whitewater where I was concerned. But when I went through Lion's Head with Jim Strutz, I ran the boat with the tethers.

    I'll have to think about that one...

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  4. #4

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    Yeah, I use them. I switched when I started getting blown oars every now and then on the big water, ww trips I do. They are also nice idiot strings for easy but remote floats where losing oars,even with a spare or two, really isn't an option, as well.

    A big real downside is the entrapment hazard they can create if someone gets a leg or arm twisted up in them from a swim or flip. This was my only reason for not using them from the start. I actually don't use the tethers previously posted but 2 nrs 4' loop straps cut down to about 20-24". Gives you 2 bombproof leashes with a release option for about $10, you can make them shorter too so less chance of entrapment and you don't have a little plastic buckle keeping your oar from sinking but a strong metal cam. Are they perfect? Nah, but they work very well. Also, the shorter loop straps can get in the way if you blow an oar and are trying reattach it to finish out the rapid. I've still always been able to get it back in the oarlock but I have to readjust it sometimes in calmer waters...but at least you have the oar!




    pic of the setup I use on my raft:


  5. #5
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    Thumbs up Oar tethers or leashes

    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    Oar leashes seem like a good idea, but locally at least, I don't see them much. Do experienced rafters use oar leashes when floating remote Alaska rivers?

    Thanks.
    Here in Alaska... many experienced rafters do use (as well as see the value of having) tethers or leashes to accessorize both oar/open oarlock and oar/clip/pin set-ups. Some do not at first, but eventually with more mileage and new found challenges/experiences find tethering a really good idea.

    User defined as part of oar management while on the sticks, loading/unloading, general boating safety, and when getting in or out of the boat.

    Value determined by the fact that a $20 item like the NRS Oar-Tether (also think less expensive yet practical and more versatile 4' NRS Loop cam-straps, climbing webbing, climbing accessory cord, etc.) is a less expensive alternative to loosing essential gear in the field or needing to purchase new oars, blades, clips, sleeves, oar-rights, stops, other related hardware, etc. that might not even be in-stock before your next trip.

    Oar tethers are a good accessory for local and remote rivers not to mention on flat water, lakes and seas. When an oarsperson looses grip or any control of the oarstation, it's far less time consuming and straightforward to get back in the saddle using the aid of a tether device than loosing split seconds or loss of the oar completely therefore (if you've got one) needing to undo the rigging for a spare.

    You may not have seen leashes or variations of such much because there are so many newcomers to rafting with scarcely a clue of truly complimentary accessories. The lack thereof seeding all kinds of Alaska streams with the all too common loot --- lotsa orphaned OARS.

  6. #6

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    i use the nrs oar tethers on whitewater. it's a good feeling seeing them there. on kenai float trips(and similar), they usually stay in the truck.
    i say: when in doubt, bring 'em. take care, abel6wt

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    Default Cons?

    I don't see any. I use a piece of webbing bolted down with the oar stand bolt and a loop sewn in the webbing, just slip the oar in and install the blade. Downside to this is no buckle and when a blade snaps in the middle of a rocky class 4 you have to take the blade but out and stick the spare oar in and that can be a bit tricky. I have however had an oar pop out in class 4 high volume water and by the time I got it put back in the lock the other one had abandoned ship as well, but it was tethered so I just reached over the side and grabbed it and put it back in, and was on my way. I once watched an oar leave a boat and float away in six mile creek, it's fun to watch people finish class 4 rapids with one oar and a really perplexed look on thier face as they float past the eddy and into the next one while trying to get their spare in place.

    Chris

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    Default

    I have used them with oarlocks, but never with pins and clips. The thinking being that the oar stirrup on the pin offered enough safety. However, this has cost me several good oars over the years, so I know my thinking is flawed, even though the knowledge has still not changed my bad behavior.

    I did see a Chugach Outdoor Center employee mock a local amateur who used them on Sixmile once. Something to the effect of, "When you gonna try it without the training wheels?"

    But of course, the COC paddler wasn't buying his own gear either.

  9. #9
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default tethers

    Cheap insurance.
    I lost an oar once on a remote river, and had to make an oar out of the longest straightest alder I could find, then for a blade I used a mashed flat #10 coffee can nailed onto the alder..
    It was miserable..
    This is also in the years before i felt the needed to take along an extra oar..
    Its possible and has probably happened that someone got tangled in the oar strap tethers, but ,, I think you can still get trapped or tangled in other stuff on your boat,,,, I will take the chance and use the tether..
    or "training wheels"..
    As for the comment above that was made by the guide working for the rafting company on Six Mile, about the training wheels.
    ,, Its your equipment, and you paid for it, and anyone that puts down the way you use it .. that person is not worth listening too...
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

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  10. #10
    Member sbiinc's Avatar
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    Default tethers

    I believe in tethers, twice in Alaska I've lost oars that were unrecoverable (at $200+ an oar, oar rights and sleeve it gets expensive) one due to whitewater and one due to bad judgement (floating in the dark and not seeing a sweeper). I've had oars pulled from the raft on more occasions but managed to recover them on every other occasion.

    Since I bought oar tethers I've had an oar or two flip out of the boat but only on one occasion I had a problem; it got caught on a sweeper in a very narrow river.

    Most of the time's I've had my oars swept from the boat have been my fault for not being as watchful as I maybe should have, once due to whitewater flipping me and the oar out, and a few times just from being on waterways as narrow as the boat was wide.

    B

  11. #11
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Instructive and funny too -

    "This is also in the years before i felt the needed to take along an extra oar..".
    Doh! .

    Cheap ($20?) insurance. How cheap is clear in these tales. I guess we can all learn from others' "horror stories".

    Interesting suggestion from indyjones too. Good stuff!

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    Default Jim Strutz

    That's pretty funny, since it was a COC guide in the front sweep cat that had his oar float away. He had just had an off run in at high water in predator and his oar hit the wall, popped out, and floated away. I was videotaping from the bridge, and the best part is the boat right after him had two swimmers from 17 ender firmly attached to his oar, and shortly after that another one came though and went vertical predator and two of it's occupants went swan diving out. It was cool.

    Chris

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    Default

    I just re-read my post and realized it would be easy to get the wrong idea about the COC boater. He knew the other local boater pretty well, and was just intending his comment to be good natured ribbing. It wasn't a mean kind of mocking at all.

    Still, that IS funny, Chris. It's always fun to watch other's mayhem on the water, especially when it's happening to the pros. Predator at high water can really catch you too. It's normally so simple, run after run, but you add a couple more inches of water and it suddenly slams you into the wall. I quit running Sixmile at anything over 10.5' years ago. All the real disasters in that stream are at high water -- usually a nice sunny day in June, when you're feeling braver than you are smart.

  14. #14
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default The pro's

    Jim, I think you were dead on in your earlier post..
    Even if the "training wheels" was said in jest, It makes an excellent statement...
    We all need to think about all of the dynamics involved in water travel.
    Is there a chance we could pop and oar loose?
    Could we get caught in the lanyard if the boat flips?
    is our life vest and helmet enough, or do we even need a helmet?
    It boils down to each one of us attempting to make the better decission for that experience..
    How are we prepared physically? can we leap around our boat and get back in position like we could 10 years ago?
    Lots to think about.
    and not one of us here has the perfect answer all the time.
    Thats why this forum works so well for me..
    I get to hear from the users, the thinkers, the pro's, the new guy,,
    It all makes me want to keep on keepin on the water,,,
    thanks to you all..
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Default Mayham

    Is funny, when no one is injured. I have been fortunate in all my flips to only come out with bumps/bruises and good stories. I have been on trips though where broken fingers, ankles, and equipment were the name of the game. Still, it is ironic that most injuries I have dealt with on river trips were on land or in relaxed situations. One was a broken ankle while tied up to a rock, the boat caught the current and the rock rolled over (luckily all the way over) the girls ankle that was sitting on it. Another time a group of hikers were going up and over a cliff to throw a rope to a guy stranded on a cliff while rock climbing and a rock slide occured breaking another persons shin, and causing some rather nasty foot lacerations to another person in tivas. Water fights have also gone wrong a time or two when boarding another vessel. Ahhh, fun and games. I can't wait, the season is only five months out now boys and girls, get them repairs made so you're ready.

    Chris

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    I made my own that are copies of what you find from NRS, Cascade etc...

    3" or 3.5" steel ring for the oar shaft, and a 2" ring under the oar lock. Can generally be found at Lowes, Home Depot, AIH, etc..

    Webbing and plastic buckles and such from REI so its quick release.


    I was rafting with Jim Strutz in 6 mile years ago and flipped, and lost both my oars... Talk about pita.. putting my boat on top of Jims, and floating the rest of the way out. I got lucky and the oars where found downstream by the takeout...

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    Default Tethers---YES

    I picked mine up after a buddy lost an oar in rapids with his 2 young kids. The kids got soaked once dad lost the ability to keep the boat pointed the right direction. This happened in first 10 minutes of a 3-day float, luckily once through the rapids, the rest of the river was Class 1 so an oar made with a black spruce and duct tape got him through. That was an eye-opener. Since then I've had an oar knocked out twice (but not lost, due to the leash). No downside to it yet.
    Blair

  18. #18
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    6XLeech,

    Good post man. I have learned alot about what to do (and not to do) from reading this. Good info for a new guy like me.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  19. #19

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    I compare oar leashes to wearing a pfd or using a wader belt. Use them at all times and 99.9% you'll never need them. But when the .1% comes, you'll be glad you had them.

  20. #20

    Default re: oar leashes

    if im in water big enough to merit leashes, i wouldnt want them. i dont like the idea of anything tethered and potentially tangled around me or my craft. i suppose a leash short enough (say two inches) so as not to even let your oar out of its lock would be fine. or switch to the stirrup/pin type mounts. anything i tie into the boat (ie water bottles, camera case) is either lashed down tight, or on a leash only two or three inches long so as to never cause a potential snag. cheers, be safe. steve

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