Monday, October 3, 2011

Up the Creek...

For cruisers, the dinghy fills the role of the family car. But what if your family car broke down? Steve and Lulu on s/v Siempre Sabado tell us that you'd be up the creek...
...with a broken paddle.

We were rowing back from shore the other afternoon, having returned the Terminator to John on Trick as they were headed back to Puerto Escondido. I'm merrily rowing along when *SNAP* the port oar just broke in two, Right at the oarlock where, of course, the greatest stress is. Lulu took the broken piece and used it as a paddle. I would row with one oar and then Lulu would correct our course with the paddle. Slow, but we got there. About a week ago, Mick from s/v Kashmir lost an oar sometime during the night. Now he had just one oar which wasn't doing him much good. We borrowed his remaining oar but the mismatch made rowing pretty difficult.

Nothing left to do but repair our own oars.

The repair was nothing Earth-shattering but it worked out well. We happened to have a couple of pieces of closet rod stock on the boat. It was bigger around than the interior diameter of the broken oar shaft so I had to plane it down to size.

Once it was small enough to just slip into the shaft, I put one end in and pinned it in place with some screws.

Then I slipped the other end over the protruding plug and screwed in in place.

And voila! we once again had a matched set.

The repair went so well that today, I cut the other oar apart at the stress point and inserted a wooden plug in it, too. Figured I'd head trouble off at the pass for once.


  1. SV C'est la Vie - We are fellow porta-boat owners that would like to see some more information on SV Siempre Sabado replaced the original seats with the sea teak seats seen in the images above.

    Nice splice on the oars. We ditched the orginal porta boat oars a long time ago. We attached 16" 2"X2" oak stringers to the hull at the gunwales and installed oar locks that allow the use of standard wood oars.


  2. Jeff -

    If Steve doesn't pick up your question in a day or two, I'll email it to him...


  3. Jeff,

    I made the oak seats when the plastic ones started to break up. I usually tie the boat alongside while at anchor and secure it fore and aft. The front "mooring" line was simply wrapped around the outboard end of the forward seat. After a couple of serious northers ran through La Paz, causing the dinghy to rock and roll and lurch alongside, I found the mooring line to be sawing its way through the plastic seat.

    I located some nice oak boards in La Paz and used the plastic seats as a pattern to get the basic shape. I then transfered measurements from the plastic seats to the oak seats to get the right placement for the swing-up legs. In order that the legs swing mostly out of the way, I routed a path for the legs to nestle into when folded, similar to the plastic seats. This being Mexico, I had my doubts that I would be able to find any kind of hardware to attach the legs to the seats. Not because the hardware wasn't available but because I didn't know how to ask for it. And, most of the hardware stores in La Paz are run sort of like auto parts stores: a few things to browse but mostly you have to ask for what you want. Anyway, I used a saw to remove the plastic brackets from the bottom of the plastic seats to be re-used on the oak seats. In order for the height from seat bottom to boat bottom to be right, I had to countersink these into the seat bottom (more routing).

    Once the legs were mounted, it was just a matter of installing the seats and marking and drilling the hole for the pin that keeps them in place. The white seats were a godsend during the hot Baja summer and the wood seats give (I think) the boat a cleaner, tougher appearance.

    I like the idea of the stringer at the gunwale. We removed the foam flotation strip because the sun was deteriorating it and we always had little flecks of black foam in the bottom of the boat. I keep an eye on the square tubing that PortaBote uses for mounting oarlocks and fully expect them to rip out one day, being just riveted in place. I think I'll make the oak stringer one of my next projects.


  4. Steve,

    thanks for the details on replacing the seats. I pleased to hear you were able to reuse the hardware from the legs. I was unsure if the plastic bracket would come off in one piece. I'm sure the white is much better on sunny days.


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