GP14 Sailing Forums Forum Fitting rowlocks/ oar length

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    • #24352

      Hi all, I have an old GRP (8049) that I am slowly upgrading and hoping to tempt my young daughters into sailing with me. They have some interest in rowing, which might help them feel comfortable in the boat. Any advice on fitting rowlocks and position? I’m thinking of sitting in and getting a feel for what is the right position. Also, what length of oar?  I’m thinking they would need to be quite long. If anyone had anything suitable in the midlands area, that they would consider selling, please do message me.



    • #24353
      Oliver Shaw

      Rowlock/Crutch Socket location:

      It would indeed be a good idea to experiment with a mock-up,  to see what is comfortable.    However the following dimensions have proved to work well for me,  and also for my various crews,  on two successive boats;   so they may well be a good start for you.


      Approximate measurements from A Capella

      (Measured, albeit only with tape measure, so a little crude, 12/01/22)

      Distance abaft centreline of thwart 19” or 48 cm

      Distance forward of at face of transom 53.5” or 136 cm

      As far outboard as possible; those on A Capella are not really far enough outboard.
      This is in order to avoid oars chafing on rubbing strake on the pull stroke.
      If using flush rowlock sockets it may also be necessary to raise the rowlocks slightly by means of a collar.

      Spindle diameter 12 mm (less than ½ inch)


      Length of oars.   Absolutely the longest that you can stow in the cockpit,  and even then you will feel that you would have liked them slightly longer.   I cannot remember whether A Capella‘s oars are nominally 7′ or nominally 8’,  but I will try to remember to measure up when I am at the boat in the next day or two.    However do be aware that the lengths of manufactured oars do not appear to be exact round numbers whether measured in Imperial or metric units.   If you can try a selection for size,  so much the better.    Or you could try a length of 2″ x 2″ timber to see what you can stow.


      Stowage of oars.    On A Capella (a Series 2 boat) I have them on the cockpit sole,  as far outboard as possible,  retained outboard by a length of shockcord.    That requires that the loom end be passed under the thwart (from aft) when stowing it,  and the maximum length is then determined by what will clear the stern deck as you work the oar forward under the thwart.

      On Tantrum (a series 1 boat,  with the original twin-slat side benches) back in the late sixties and early seventies I had the oars mounted above the outboard slat of the side benches,  retained in place by plastic “Terry” clips.   There,  choosing the length is less critical;   the oars merely need to fit into the cockpit.

      Hope this helps,





      • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Oliver Shaw. Reason: Completion of reply after "blind" copy and past of data, which for some obscure technical reason was not visible until submitted
    • #24356

      Mike,  I have just measured the rowlock socket position on my newish wooden Dinghy “Neema” The centre of socket is 1370mm from rear of Transom measured along the side deck. The deck is approx 125mm wide at this point and centre of socket is 40mm from outer edge. When measuring under deck the socket is approx 30mm from inside the hull. The socket is mounted through an under deck support block which sits tight up against the rear side of the 3.5 station former this sits at 1395mm, so the socket is approx 25mm to the rear of that former.  Having read a few rowing blogs on line with them giving various formulas and ideal measurements I soon realise that the only measurement that I could glean was the one for how far aft from the seat to place the sockets. The Ideals seemed to place the socket smack on top of the 3.5 former. So to place it just fore or just aft was the decision to be made. I think I read somewhere on this forum that Oliver Shaw place his sockets just aft of 3.5 so I did like wise. Mind you if you decided to place them just in front of 3.5 I think that would work to, just sit with bum overhanging thwart a bit.

      I purchased 8ft oars which arrived being only 7ft-10 1/2in and these fit easily under the thwart from the rear. There seems to be room for slightly longer oars may be 4 or 5 ins longer ( they say the longer the better ) If you are going to just row with your family (No mast) then even longer will do but you will need to stow these on the side decks .

      All the best   Windy

    • #24357

      Thanks Oliver thats a great start – good idea to get some 2×2 and check stowage. I’ll take those notes down and see what that looks like. I see one oar seller recommending oar length as 1.5x beam so will add that to the mix.

    • #24358
      Oliver Shaw

      Oar length;   those on A Capella are 82½”,  or 2085 mm,  long.    So they are probably a nominal 7′ (84″).   I did warn you not to expect round numbers!

      They fit nicely between the forward buoyancy tank bulkhead and the aftmost side bench support.

      Hope this is helpful,



    • #24359
      Simon Heath

      I’ve just got back from a holiday in Wareham, Poole harbour and have some very imporatant advice! Don’t buy the shiny chromed brass rowlocks as they have a fatal flaw. They break! Buy the galvanized ones. I have a pair of Lahna Seagrade 2.7m oars which seem about perfect length, just fitting in my old (I believe) series 1 with wooden benches and full length buoyancy tanks I store them on the floor as they take too much of the seat. They can be left in the row locks on the deck just in board of the rear horse.

      The oars  didn’t sit quite comfortably in the row locks as the internal diameter was a bit low. I tried them out at my sailing club before venturing out to sea and they needed a bit of a push and twist due to the rubber collars to get them so they didn’t get in each others way.

      I sailed down the first part of the Wareham channel from our slip at Redcliffe campsite, about the first 1km, as we turned up wind, just after Ridge Wharf yacht centre. I decided to drop the sail and row as it was too narrow to tack. Pushed one of the oars in place then the other and it went ping and jumped out the row lock base. Thought that’s odd – I’ve got cotter pins to keep the row lock in place. Then realised with a heart sinking feeling… it was the rowlock had snapped at it’s narrowst point. Thankfully I’d read a lot of the advice on here, so had an anchor with 2m of chain and 30ft of rope, which was dropped after I managed some SUP Style rowing to the bank standing up with 1 oar, Then we wedged the boat in place at the rear by using the oar. But I’d now lost my means of propulsion. Thankfully after a 30 minute wait we managed to flag a passing tourist trip boat for a tow back up stream. Had no one come, I’d got a phone and floating handheld VHF to call the marina.

      Having just done my Powerboar 2 last year meant I knew how to hitch on a tow unlike the boat owner who wanted to tie us on. It’s much safer to have a loose wrap around a cleat and hand hold it so when the tow slows, you can pull in the slack and not risk getting the prop wrapped. Same at the end of boat being towed. Either one can let go if something goes wrong.  Also keep the tiller on, but raised so it’s just in the water so you can help navigate tighter turns, and as we did…. get a slingshot back onto the slipway where I was able to land us perfectly.

      The new 10mm galvanised locks I bought from a chandlers in Poole didn’t quite fit, thankfully my parents have retired down there so dad came out with an 11mm metal drill to widen the base plate and now they fit perfect.

      One thing you may want to practice with daughters is rowing with the tiller in place. My 8 year old was zig zagging us all over the place on the first trip even though she can sail an oppy. However on 2nd trip my mum came along So with the new rowlocks we managed to get out the River Frome, had a beat up wind in the main channel back and forth. I didn’t realise outside the channel it was only about 2ft deep at hight tide, not enough for a centreboard!,  so would have rowed a bit further had I known, despite having just bought the Poole Harbour map. I had done some training with Rockley last year based up the top end of the harbour, and despite it drying at low tide, at high tide a dinghy can clear the shallow water.  We even managed to beat an Elan 22i into the moorings near Hamworthy, despite me having to have a tack as I was running out of sea on a close haul.

      We sailed all the way across Poole Harbour including the main ship channel and had to avoid larger traffic (which was my main mission… to practice my COLREGS), over to Baiter Park, dropped mum and daughter then back, a bit faster this time with the boat heeled, to a secret slip so we didn’t have to pay £14 at Baiter Park.

      Am currently looking at electric outboards with hydro-generation, as I’d prefer to be getting down the river much quicker. According to Google maps it’s 3km. And we’re likely to camp there again.  Plus having 2x 2.7m oars  means you are quite wide and have to keep out of everyone’s way, Long term plans are for a 32+ foot yacht with tender, so its helping spread the cost of the upgrade 😉 The electric outboards allow you to store the battery inboard to help boat balance and most important don’t make a racket or stink when running.

    • #24364

      Thanks also Windy and Simon for the advice. Sounds like you had fun in Dorset, Simon.

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