Thursday, 14 May 2009

A quiver of rudders

That new rudder blade that I made for OB is too small. It turns the boat fine and is lighter sailing off the breeze but is not big enough for going to windward.

At first I thought I’d just knock up a copy of the previous rudder, which I’d butchered to make the current one but the shape of the available ply off-cut got me thinking. It was a small piece of ply; barely big enough to create a rudder blade with sufficient surface area unless I changed the rudder shape. So I drew and cut a new blade with more surface area on the leading edge rather than the trailing edge where it had been before. I like the resulting shape. And I love the way that small boat building and owning allows you experiment in this fashion. I don’t know the exact optimum surface area for the Light Trow rudder and what I’ve made is only based on intuition.

Then I looked at another off-cut and found that I could cut something similar to the rudder that Gav originally drew. I had to lose one aft corner so it is slightly smaller than drawn but I’m keen to test it.

Anti-wrinkle cream

I’ve been back to the rowing club several times now. Learning to row as part of a team is a challenge and not stopping to enjoy the view is one of the hardest parts.

But the rowing has been a lot easier since I changed boats. The veterans with whom I went out the first few times are a hard-arsed bunch. They smoke, they spit and their beer guts are pure muscle. And though I qualify in age for this boat I’m still a bit too soft and pink to make the grade. I’m now rowing with the junior team. We are rowing to compete so there’s no let up in the hour’s training session but there are other beginners onboard and if someone occasionally catches a crab we all get a brief rest while we untangle the oars. And when there’s football on the telly we knock off early.

Technically I’m too old to row with these bright young things but I act light on my toes and hold my tummy in and nobody seems to have noticed the permanence of my crow’s feet. I feel like an infiltrator and am not sure I actually want to compete but at least until my behind is as tough as a baboon’s I’ll keep applying the anti-wrinkle cream and plucking the grey hairs from my beard.

'Estrop' versus grommet



I’ve always rowed OB with a rope grommet holding the oar to the pin. I have now changed to an estrop, however, and am trying to ascertain the pros and cons of each.

When rowing there isn’t a marked difference though the grommet does seem to hold the oar to the pin more firmly. Comfortable rowing depends on the grommet or estrop having the correct tension—too loose and the oar’s all over the place. Tension varies as the rope stretches and the amount of stretch depends on the type of line and how wet the rope is. The estrop is adjustable and, having three turns of rope, stretches less than the grommet but a well-made grommet shouldn’t stretch beyond what is normal for the type of rope.

The most obvious advantage of the estrop over the grommet is that, being attached to the oar, it’s more difficult to lose. The last time I had an oar come off a pin the grommet plopped into the sea and sank. The other advantage is that when I take the oars off the pins and stow them in the boat for sailing in rougher weather, the estrop, with its long trailing end is good for attaching the oars to the thwart. This needs a picture to explain and I’ll post one soon.

For the moment I shall continue to row with estrops but in my heart I think I actually prefer grommets.