Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my dinghy cruising blog about my John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. Built over three years, Arwen was launched in August 2007. She is a standing lug yawl 14' 6" in length. This blog records our dinghy cruising voyages together around the coastal waters of SW England.
Arwen has an associated YouTube channel so visit to find our most recent cruises and click subscribe.
On this blog you will find posts about dinghy cruising locations, accounts of our voyages, maintenance tips and 'How to's' ranging from rigging standing lug sails and building galley boxes to using 'anchor buddies' and creating 'pilotage notes'. I hope you find something that inspires you to get out on the water in your boat. Drop us a comment and happy sailing.
Steve and Arwen

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Split oars and fibre glassing oar tips

 I noticed a split in one oar so I needed to do a repair. They are rather battered oars and have seen better days but I tend to use them as temporary ones on Arwen until such time as I build a proper portable rowing seat and alter the rowlock blocks to accommodate my longer oars that I built a couple of years ago. You can find details about those oars here

This is the starting post - there are several about making my new oars and testing them out. 

Anyway, back to the temporary ones! The split. A rushed repair, because I am hoping to sail next week. I sanded the broken areas to remove any old varnish and then on the split oar. I then cut some fibreglass tape I had over from another project long ago into strips - one I used to go across and around the blade tips - cutting darts into the cloth at each end so that it would correctly.

After doing the cloth and mixing up epoxy, I knocked in the tip of a thin flat screwdriver blade to prise the crack apart further. Trickling epoxy into the crack was difficult and I used a trick recommended to me by someone on one of the dinghy cruising Facebook forums; namely to use a shop vac - hoover in the UK - on the underneath of the crack. The suction pulled the epoxy further into the crack. It actually worked!

The cloth tips were put on and wetted out and folded over correctly . I added a little more epoxy on each side to ensure the cloth wouldn't dry out. It is a balancing act - too much and the cloth 'floats' off; too little and it dries out and there are areas where no epoxy takes. 

Its rough and there are ridges even after sanding 

Another strip was then butted up to the first on each side of the blade as well. The issue here would be the join line - because of the nature of the cloth - the butt between them would be slightly raised which would require sanding later ad possibly some fairing in. 

The end result?

The cloth and epoxy set correctly. No dry parts; no floating away from position. I trimmed off all he rough edges using my multitool saw blade and then sanded each blade. As I suspected, there was a ridge between the two sets of cloth and sanding just wouldn't remove it. 

It was now that I discovered that I have no fairing compound. I thought I did, but alas none to be found on the epoxy shelves.  After a few minutes reflection, I have decided to leave it as it is. I have sanded it all as smooth as possible but getting fairing compound now with only a few days to Christmas will be difficult.  With Omicron spreading rapidly in Plymouth and our area now one of the highest affected areas in the UK, we are trying to avoid any unnecessary contact with others so that we dont have to self isolate over the Christmas period, jeopardising plans with family. 

They are temporary oars and a rough-ish job will do. The first undercoat has gone on. I will paint the tips five coats of paint and then sand and re-varnish the oar looms and top parts of the blades. 


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

I would like to do the same - but I am not convinced I could make it work, as my oars have been used in salt water so much that whenever I touch them (especially at this time of year) they feel damp... I wonder if a fresh water rinse and scrub would help..

steve said...

I think that is worth a try. I left mine out in the rain for a few days and then bought them in to dry out and scrub lightly with sandpaper.