03
Nov
09

Sculling Eleanor – what does it take?

I had been wanting to scull Eleanor since many years ago, but all my previous setup were just not right.. and I had no idea what was wrong. .. There were nobody that had any real sculling experience that I could understudy around me. Internet info was as good as it gets, but not enough to help me understand whats wrong with my setup or my strokes. .. It was pure good luck that, after 3 yrs of not thinking about sculling, I discover a sculler among our midst!

Mock up with sculling oar lock.

1st prototype with sculling oarlock.

My sculling lesson with Terry rekindled my interest in sculling Eleanor. It was a matter of setup and strokes. Now that I am getting the strokes right practising on a dinghy, next step is to figure how to make it work on Eleanor. 19ft and 1 tonne, that makes sculling Eleanor alot more dependent on setup. I mean, sculling is possible, all it takes is either superpower or super efficient setup for the small size little o’ me.

Hard work, cant keep it up for long.

Sculling near the aft, short pivot distance, small leverage = high energy needed for each stroke

This is our 1st setup, 1 weekend after my sculling lesson. We could scull Eleanor using this setup, but it is very slow and very tiring.

What is wrong with this picture? Overhead sculling?

Sculling from midship, better leverage but oar has tendency to dig in, resulting in overhead sculling

Not something we could keep doing for 15mins.. and not sure if we were making any real progress at all..

Golf ball? Is it gonna work?

Oar pin with golf ball for pivoting

Using this setup, we analysed what could be done to improve the strokes with alot less effort. 1) A lot of energy is spent on keeping the oar in the right balanced location in the oarlock. The oar has a tendency to slide, and so I have to work to counter. 2) Adding a oriental lanyard may help “cocking” the oar and keeping it in place, such that I am not sculling with hands above my head.

Oar held in exact place by base. Golf ball pivots for the blade angle.

Sculling in action.

I recognize that, the 1st step to efficient sculling would be to not waste energy balancing the very heavy 14ft oar. A oarlock design that fixes the position of the oar will be the 1st improvement that we should work on.

After 1 week of internal brain storming, this is my new setup. Using a long bolt, golf ball, thick walled PVC pipe section and small PVC pipe to cover the threads. Setup the large “pin” as shown. Attach the large “pin” to the oar, fixing the position of the oar at my most prefered sculling seat position. The sculling base is a piece of Aluminium plate, stuck onto wood with a 2″ wide, 3″ depth hole. The base is mounted onto the utility bolt studs that was meant for a swim ladder. This is just a mock up and every material used were just whatever we had in stock.

Our 2nd setup worked much better. We were definately making progress, albeit slow… at 0.5kn (measured using the GPS). In this setup, it was easy for me to get into the swing of things and I could scull a solid 1hr without getting 1/2 as tired as before! That was the good news. Posing with the sorta working Yuloh oar.

There were afew things that surprise us. We never thought, that the slight curve on Eleanors’ transom would make a significant difference sculling blade angle. The starboard angle was alot more than the port angle as a result of the slight tilt. That was enough to give Eleanor the tendency to veer starboard and we could not compensate for it using the tiller… but possibly a slight modification to the base would be enough to change that. The other surprise was, that the oar had too much buoyancy and so the oriental lanyard didnt work. We pull on it and the oar jump right out of the water. hmm…

Okay, so we get a 0.5kn with this setup. My target is 1.5 to 2kn. We will be back to testing after some tuning.. come back again next week if you are interested to know what we did and how it performed.

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2 Responses to “Sculling Eleanor – what does it take?”


  1. 1 dayton altman
    November 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Lang,

    I’ve thought about sculling but instead installed a set of oar locks and made
    two 10′ oars from masts from Bolgers oldshoe, again i’m trying to ween myself
    from the cursed internal combustion engine but that addiction seems likely to
    continue since we’re 8 miles from the Ocean. dayton

  2. 2 funvinyldecals
    November 10, 2009 at 6:29 am

    I thought I could use a pair of long oars with custom oarlocks mounted on the winches. But I thought it might be too much work for 0.5 kn.. or at best 1kn for a boat like Eleanor. Sculling is probably much easier for the same distance travelled. As you can see, I also have a 0/B. Its 5HP 4 stroke Suzuki. I could travel 5kns and the 5gal tank will go for a full 20hrs. Thats a 100nm range just on the O/B alone. But thats not the point for us sailors.. 🙂


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