My new boat and Oar Length Question



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  • My new boat and Oar Length Question

    So based on all the feedback from my last thread I decided to get a cataraft. My original intention was to order a set up from AK raft and kayak. However, while I was waiting for a check to clear I found a used Leopard more or less locally. The leopard has custom tubes that are 28 inches in diameter and the frame is also custom sized to take a 178 qt cooler and drop down a couple of inches lower. The boat came with the tubes, frame, a floor, motor mount, two 178 qt coolers, various straps, and five oars for alot less then a new set up was going to cost me. All in all I am pretty dang pleased. I did a short trip this last weekend and was still adjusting things to fit my needs. I am guessing it is going to take a little bit of time getting everything dialed in. One question I did have is the length oars. The boat came with 11' oars. Do I really need oars that long? They sure turned the boat quickly but they were a bit heavy and long. The boat is 8 feet wide assembled. From the reading I have done it seems most folks are using 9.5-10' oars. Is that correct? Can I go to a shorter oar? If so what are the advantages and disadvantages?

    Thanks for your help.

  • #2
    Oar Length

    I don't know, but with 28" tubes, it wouldn't surprise me if you needed a longer set of oars than usual. I installed the higher risers on my boats for the oar locks and wound up getting 2 sets of 6" longer oars because the height made my original oars too short. I was "spinning out" so to speak, when rowing. I found myself having to hold my hands much higher than comfortable (almost in my face actually) to keep the tips in the water and was using far too much strength and concentration to do a simple thing like row my boat. So, now I have 2 sets per boat, and am undecided as to weather the higher oarlock stanchions are worth having to use longer oars. It's nice to have them taller because it seems I'm always tying drybags on either side of me and sometimes I screw up and find I can't lower my oars enough to make a "free sweep" on the return stroke, thats better with the taller stanchions. But, the bummer is, on really narrow creeks, it's nice to have shorter oars cause a lot of time I find theres no water out there where my longer oars now reach to... and I wind up rowing against brush or the bank! (Lots of traction, but I have a hard time adjusting back and forth from rowing water, air, alders, and gravel!) Anyway, I suggest you try them out for a while and see how they work for you on some easier water before you jump right into somethign difficult. Good oars are a bit on the expensive side in my book so I'd hate for you to wind up like me and have 2 full sets just because I can't make up my mind which ones I like best! Happy Boating! Chris


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