Category: X On And In The Water
A rowboat is a safer craft than a canoe, and rowing is not a difficult
feat, but there is a difference between the rowing of a heavy
flat-bottomed boat and rowing a light skiff or round-bottomed rowboat.
In rowing properly one's body does most of the work and the strain comes
more on the muscles of the back than on those of the arms.
In paddling you face the bow of the canoe; in rowing you are turned
around and face the stern of your boat. In paddling you reach forward
and draw your paddle back; in rowing you lean back and pull your oars
forward. When beginning a stroke grasp the handles of your oars firmly
near the ends, lean forward with arms outstretched and elbows straight,
the oars slanting backward, and, by bearing down on the handles of the
oars, lift the blades above the water. Then drop them in edgewise and
pull, straightening your body, bending your elbows, and bringing your
hands together one above the other. As you finish the stroke bear down
on your oars to lift the blades out of the water again, turn your wrists
to bring the flat of the blades almost parallel with the water but with
the back edge lifted a little; then bend forward and, sweeping the oars
backward, turning the edge down, plunge them in the water for another
pull. Turning the wrists at the beginning of a stroke feathers the oar,
the forward edge of which is sometimes allowed to skim lightly over the
surface of the water as the oar is carried backward. In steering with
the oars you pull hardest on the oar on the side _opposite_ to the
direction you wish to take. A little practise and all this comes easy
The thing for a beginner to avoid is "catching a crab." That is,
dipping the oars so lightly in the water as not to give sufficient hold,
which will cause them, when pulled forward, to fly up and send the rower
sprawling on her back. In dipping too deeply there is danger of losing
an oar by the suction of the water. Experience will teach the proper
depth for the stroke.
On some of the Adirondack lakes the round-bottomed rowboats are used
almost exclusively, but the boat with a narrow, flat bottom is safer and
is both light and easy to row. A cedar rowboat is the most desirable.
The oars should be light for ordinary rowing yet strong enough to
prevent their snapping above the blade in rough water.
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