Rowing advice requested.

I have never rowed with crossed hands, but it looks like I will have to learn since I don’t want to put outriggers on the Big Honkin’ Canoe.

Any beginner’s advice is appreciated.

A Few Tips

– Last Updated: Mar-30-10 11:23 PM EST –

If you do what comes naturally, you'll be fine. That said, there are a couple of methods for crossing hands, and it sometimes pays to be ambidextrous at both methods.

The way I prefer most of the time is to cross one oar handle in front of the other on the power stroke. I normally alternate which hand has the farther reach on every stroke, except when there's a substantial crosswind. In crosswinds, the boat tends to veer to one side, so by always reaching a little farther with one hand, I can apply a stronger and longer stroke on that side, to whatever degree is needed to cancel the boat's tendency to turn. Consistently crossing hands the same way with each stroke, always reaching farther with one hand and pulling a longer distance on that side as well, is also necessary for long sustained turns AND really sharp turns.

The other method is to cross one hand on top of the other. This causes one oar blade to go deeper in the water, which usually is no big deal, but I prefer to keep them at the same depth, which is why I normally use the first method. However, there are times when it's really handy to lean the boat while underway, something I sometimes do to reduce the "grip" of a strong crosswind on the boat or to prevent waves from coming over the side. Also, on one of my boats, leaning is a great way to carve turns. When leaning the boat, crossing one hand on top of the other comes naturally, and doing so will prevent one oar blade from going deeper than the other.

Mounting one oarlock higher than the other is a racing-boat method, which is also applicable to any of the "fitness rowing" boats. However, mounting one oarlock higher than the other is a really bad idea on general-purpose boats, mostly because it prevents you from being able to lean equally well in both directions. A very small amount of height differential between the oarlocks will really screw up your ability to lean the "other" way. It even screws up your ability to reach farther with either hand when crossing by the first method I described (it will be easier for you to try this yourself to see why than for me to explain it). The ability to be ambidextrous regarding which hand reaches farther or which hand is higher is a huge advantage unless you only are on the water in "nice" conditions and if you don't want to improve your ability to turn to both the left and right. In short, only racers get an advantage from mounting one oarlock higher than the other.

On recovery strokes, you can use these same principles to keep both blades just barely above the water or both blades plenty high so they don't hit waves, whether the boat is level or sharply leaned in either direction.

Trim your finger nails
Infact you may want to try some of the gloves that water skiers use to give you more protection and grip.

And I like all the advice above.

The only time I tried it,I had open
oarlocks and the oars kept jumping out. Now I have closed oarlaocks.They aren’t pinned in though.I’ll do some practicing and let you know.

You might try pinned oars too

– Last Updated: Mar-31-10 12:56 PM EST –

I suppose the purists might cringe at this, but I don't think that pinned oars are such a grievous sin when used on a utilitarian boat. Pinned oars are traditional on guide-boats (to allow the rower to put down his gun or fishing rod and quickly grab the oars and go without any attention to "set-up"), and I really like them when operating the blades close alongside one end of the boat. I do that when surfing on a wave, where I can keep the boat from broaching by instantly using one blade like a rudder without having to twist my hand into a position it isn't built to do. I use the same rudder motion sometimes when rowing "backward" in tight spots to pull the leading edge of the boat around a curve. When coasting through tight spots among fallen tree branches while rowing in the "proper" direction, I can change the boat's heading by ruddering at the rear or the front without doing anything difficult with hand-positioning, and that is handy during that time that the oars can't be extended to the sides. You can even make your boat go straight sideways with oars (though it's not nearly as easy as with a canoe) with one blade forward and the other back, but I wouldn't be able to do that maneuver without pinned oars (I must admit that if I need to go sideways more than a little, I just park the oars, get up on my knees, and use a canoe paddle - it's easier!).

I know feathering "works" because I do it on every stroke when paddling a canoe, but only in very strong headwinds to I really notice the effect of a non-feathering oar. I don't worry about it too much because because the boat isn't for racing and the oars provide just a fraction of the overall wind resitance. Further "no worries" thinking comes from the fact that when rowing I can outrun any solo canoe into a strong headwind. If you become good at using non-pinned oars, that's great too. It's probably better in a lot of ways, and you won't run the risk of going to Rower's Hades.

Pinned Oars
I like them for whenever I’m fishing or taking pictures doing anything besides just rowing. The only time I don’t like them in in the wind.

In Whitewater I like them more often than not.