Taking a break from the start up work for the business and the worries of how to make it all work is important for me. Moreover, getting on the water is my professional development. Using boats, thinking about how they go through the water, and trying new oars or different ways to rig the boat for sailing all matter to my finished products coming out of the shop.
Oars are a key product for my business and every time I row some new nuance of rowing and oars is realized. In these photos, you can see Portland Head Light and the stern of Drake and the oars I made specifically to Drake and my physique and style of rowing. The Spruce oars are spoon blade oars with lead in the handle so they counterbalance beautifully. These 9'1" oars are excellent in rough water because the blades are only 4-1/2" wide and have their maximum blade area outboard, providing the most propulsion. I don't need to feather these oars even going upwind. Certainly, there is more resistance but the energy feathering in rough water isn't always worthwhile.
Those two elements above won't change much. The hull form and my bodily form won't vary over time, but the conditions around me will. Wind, tidal current, waves/chop, my energy level and boat speed will all change. Upwind rowing and downwind rowing require different oars, for instance. You want a shorter oar to enable a higher stroke rating going upwind. Downwind you can use a lower rating and a longer oar and/or a larger blade area. Choppy conditions may require switching to the shorter oar. But once the wind goes calm and the water is flat, the longer oar will be more efficient. So, a good rower and rowboat needs to carry two sets of oars. For Drake, the ideal combination would be a 8'9"-8'10" spoon blade oar for upwind work and a 9'2-9'3" with a short, wide carbon blade for downwind work or calm conditions. It takes time to figure out what works for you and your boat. After a full season, I'm realizing this and luckily the 9'1" spoon blade oars have been a great all around oar to use for Drake and I.