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Rowing/Sculling a Dolphin (updated March 30, 2012)  

February 28, 2012. Recently, we had a request for information on rowing/sculling a Dolphin. We know of three Dolphins who have, or had such a system, Feather, Monika,, and Acamar.

Feather (left) has a great picture of her sculling oar but we don't have current contact info - our staff is working on this...

Monika (below) has a picture of her oars shipped, and comments; and Acamar's page has no pictures and comments only.

Still, its a pretty good start on this subject - for a boat that's probably displacing more than 5000lbs!

Responding to our request for information Alan Brothers sent in the following email regarding rowing his Acamar.

Hi Ron,

I used to row Acamar.  There were times when I even cruised without an outboard.  I installed wood blocks outside the cockpit to hold the sockets.  At some point the wood split and I discovered it was just as easy to leverage against the Genoa winch.  At first I had a loop of rope to hold the oar next to the winch, but later discovered by twisting the oar on the return stroke it would stay in position.

The oars are 9 feet long with leathers to protect the wood.  I would stand in the cockpit facing forward with the tiller between my legs.  It wasn’t very fast — maybe one, or one and a half knots, but it got me into the anchorage a few times after the wind died, or to just move the boat short distances when I didn’t want to bother with the outboard or sails in light wind conditions.

I read what Larry Pardey wrote about using a sculling oar and it sounded like it would be a lot more effective, but if I remember correctly, it requires a specially shape oar and I never tried it.   


Here is a bow on picture of Rod Kulbach's Monika with her oars set up in line with the upper shrouds. Below are Rod's comments (minor edits)

Hello Ron

I found that the oars work well, with me standing, facing forward, rowing in the classic fisherman style where you use your whole body, sort of lunging in slow motion. I average 1knot plus for easily an hour or more. If this sounds like no big deal, why bother, it's still better than drifting and spinning, maybe missing the way in to an anchorage, or missing a favorable tide.

It takes some extenders for the oarlocks to get them high enough to be comfortable in that standing position, but most of us can figure our some clever way to do that, maybe a pipe or tubing within a pipe or tubing, maybe something you could stow when not in use...

I found a company building pole vaulting poles; they're epoxy or graphite and glass, and I asked for any seconds they might have and they did. Once done, they can work as whisker or downwind poles: again, not hard to figure our some end fittings (just tapered wooden round stock that jams into the grommet).

Anyway - hope you're well, stay in touch,


If we get more info on this subject we'll update this page. In the meantime, for homework, here are some websites worth checking out.





March 30, 2012. Over the past weeks we have had an exchange of emails with Nene Wolfe (Moonshadow) about propulsion - oar propulsion. With the help of a couple of Dolphin owners (Acamer and Monika) Nene has come up with a system for Moonshadow. Last month we started a page in the Technical Section/Propulsion Systems/Sculling and Rowing and this contribution will be added to that page. Here is the last email and some pictures

Hi Ron,

Greetings to you, hope you are out in Marionette  sailing (6 more weeks! We live in Connecticut not temperate Alaska!) - OK -  update with oars, pics to follow  in another email.

I bought  10 ft   break-apart  Carlisle  oars from  NRS.  I used nylon webbing wrapped around the stanchions in prussic style with a piece of parachute cord tied to the top of the stanchion to keep the webbing from slipping down to the base. Webbing worked way better than rope.  This setup allows for easy rowing without getting the oars hung up or allowing them to slip or slide out and fall into the drink.

Moonshadow doesn't have a second winch in the cockpit like some other Dolphins seem to have. If it had a second one I think it would have been in a better position to rig up a hold for the oars.   Hence the last stanchion use;  it’s a smidgeon too aft  but works OK.   Have to sit on the lasarette to row. Not Sure what the torque is going to do to the stanchion in the long run .

It takes some strength (and a good friend!) to row Moonshadow but it works - its not a fast way to move but quite maneuverable  just the same.  I am happy to have this setup. Thanks for contacting  Acamar and Monika for their experiences, very much appreciated !

in Juneau AK


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