Yes it does take a bit of practice but this is
skill well worth acquiring.
is a handy way to
propel a dinghy through a crowded anchorage, not only can you face
see where they're going but steering is easy.
It is also an efficient way to move a sailboat when the wind has
dropped or any
boat if the engine is playing up.
I first became intrigued with this method of propulsion when I saw
heavy, traditional, French fishing boat being sculled out of the
Les Îles des Glénan.
When you are sculling you are exerting the propulsive power slowly and
continuously making it easier to move large loads relatively easily.
The Oar or Paddle.
If this is something you are
thinking of doing with a light dinghy over short distances then a
can be used quite adequately, preferably one which is at least two
length of your boat.
However, there are several
designs of paddle shaped
especially for this technique which are easier and less tiring to use.
Perhaps the best
known is the
Specialist sculling oars
usually have longer shafts and
longer blades than a rowing oar.
And more important they are
angled so that virtually no
wrist rotation is required.
The yuloh is usually made from
two or three straight
pieces set at an angle so the blade curves down into the water at an
about twenty five degrees.
The long blade should be
shaped so that it is flat on the
bottom and curved on top.
When used with the flat side
down the oar reverses pitch
easily at the end of each stroke.
The Chinese also
attach a rope
from the handle end down to the deck.
While this helps keep the oar
from digging too deep, it
is mainly used to help twist the oar and assist the sideways pull.
A deep oarlock will make
sculling much easier for the
novice as it will help overcome the beginner’s tendency to allow the
to jump up out of the rowlock, some even use a captive rowlock or a
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