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So, I've got a question, and an anecdote.

I've heard stories of sailboats, even over 35 feet, being sculled into ports, without motor. Most of these stories come from either Bermuda or China, consequently (and seem dated). In fact, in China there is a saying "a scull equals 3 oars", though this is beside the point...

Has anyone ever seen this done? I'm sure it's not easy, but it seems invaluable, especially if you're minus the iron jib. So basically my question is whether this is a practical thing to do for a moderate/heavy displacement 27 foot boat, full keel with cutaway for-foot, attached rudder, or any boat for that matter.

That and I basically want to see what everyone thinks of this idea, because if you can still maneuver the boat it seems pretty ideal.

Thanks.
 

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Telstar 28
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Yes, it can be done. But you need a fairly long oar to do it with and a set of thole pins or some other notch for the oar on the transom of the boat.
 

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A dockmate does it quite often, first time I offered him my dinghy engine and found out he does it for recreation, as Dog said he uses a very long oar and a couple thole pins. I'm not sure what his boat was when first built but it is now a 27' junk rigged ketch with a very large unstayed wooden mainmast. I swear that my description of this boat is accurate.
 

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There's a group of guys out in Bellingham WA call the Oar Club. They sail boats of all types (from a J30 to a Atkin double ender) sans engine and use sweeps and sculling oars for propulsion when there is no wind. The guy who started the group, Jerome Fitzgerald, wrote a great book called "The Purpose of Sailing" in which he details just how efficiently one can handle a boat with no engine. If you're interested in this stuff it's definitely a worthy read. Personally, I'm currently looking into a sculling or for my engineless Triton.
 

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Super Fuzzy Moderator
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Sculling is a pretty cool thing to do. If the idea appeals the obvious thing to do is rig up a pair of thole pins (to be honest a rowlock will suffice) on the stern of your dinghy and have at it.

Does depend somewhat on your dinghy of course. Inflatables are not the best nor are today's typically lightweight and tippy fibreglass things but something with good directional stability is worth a shot.

Succeed and admiring glances will be your reward. Fail...well lets just say that standing in a dinghy in the middle of a mooring field going round in circles does not increase your overall standing in the community. :) Trust me, I know. :eek:.

btw....skulling a sub 30' engineless craft is a whole heap different to trying to punt something with a bloody great lump of cast iron under the cockpit, !!!!
 

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"Nevis Nice"
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When I was a teenager, our family spent summer vacations in an old farm house on Gwynn's Island, VA, on the Chesapeake Bay. We were adopted by a local waterman by the name of Fossie Smith. He taught me a lot about life on the Bay. One of the things he did was to take the time to teach me how to scull an 18' crab skiff. It's an absolutely Zen way to propel a small boat. You have to do it to understand that.
 

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I read an article some years ago that Lin and Larry Pardey had a sculling oar made for Taleisin. They had it custom made and brought it back in the hold of an airliner. As I remember, it was waaay long and had a long thin 'paddle' section for flexability. Taleisin is not a lite boat...so it must work.

I'm not THAT much of a traditionalist and I'm lazy, so I'll be firing up the iron genny thank you very much.:)
 

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When I was a teenager, our family spent summer vacations in an old farm house on Gwynn's Island, VA, on the Chesapeake Bay. We were adopted by a local waterman by the name of Fossie Smith. He taught me a lot about life on the Bay. One of the things he did was to take the time to teach me how to scull an 18' crab skiff. It's an absolutely Zen way to propel a small boat. You have to do it to understand that.
Absolutely. Sadly not many of us have 18' crab boats. A mate of ours has an absolutely lovely 'peapod'. I've never sculled her but she is a joy to row. To get the most out of sculling (or rowing for that matter) something better than the average yacht tender is required. Its most unfortunate that for most of us these days our tenders are rubbish when it comes to rowing.
 

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Twice now the stupid air pump that runs on dead dinosaurs quit. Both times, I was in the harbor with no wind. Stands to reason, that's the only place I'd run the engine anyway.

Day before yesterday, there was not a breath of wind near the harbor, and the bucket of demented parts quit with me 600 feet from the slip. So I sculled home. Sculling involves moving the tiller back and forth like a fish moves a fin. You move it rapidly in one direction, then slowly in the opposite – just like you would move your arms while swimming under water. You change course by moving the tiller only from the center to the opposite side in which you desire to turn. I enjoyed moving along slowly, propelling myself with the tiller. It works, but it's slow. It took me over an hour to get to the mouth of the harbor. I'm not complaining.

I believe this technique is possible on a boat having a wheel instead of a tiller – but considering most boats with wheels require more than a full revolution of the wheel to move the rudder through a full side-to-side deflection, the technique would rapidly exhaust anyone using it. Chalk up another advantage of tillers over wheels.

So once I was in the harbor channel, all these boats passed me. While passing, one skipper asked: "Are you aground?" I said, no, I'm just sculling back to my slip. He looked at me as if I had grown two heads. A sailboat came along (under power) and asked if I needed a tow. I said: "No. Do you?" I then laughed and thanked him, and explained that I was moving along fine by sculling. He said: "Doing what?" I repeated my explanation. He said: "Don't you know that's impossible without a special mount for a long oar?" And I said: "Gee, I wish you'd told me that before I'd sculled my boat this far."

I got it all the way into the harbor and into my slip. The same gentleman was standing on the neighboring dock watching me round the corner, turn 90 degrees right, line up with the slip, and propel my boat ever-so-slowly into its berth. He was all bug-eyed at my violation of the laws of physics. Good thing there weren't any physics cops to catch me.

I sail a Pearson Ariel. It's 25 feet 7 inches overall, and 3,500 pounds gross. For sculling, I believe that size doesn't matter, but patience does.

Your actual mileage may vary.
 

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When I was a teenager, our family spent summer vacations in an old farm house on Gwynn's Island, VA, on the Chesapeake Bay. We were adopted by a local waterman by the name of Fossie Smith. He taught me a lot about life on the Bay. One of the things he did was to take the time to teach me how to scull an 18' crab skiff. It's an absolutely Zen way to propel a small boat. You have to do it to understand that.
Wow, hphoen, what a small world. I learned to skull at Gwynn's Island, too. Barn Creek. And knew Fossie. We sill have part of the farm on Barn Creek. Email me if you get a chance. ernie45atAOLdotcom.
 

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On the hard
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Twice now the stupid air pump that runs on dead dinosaurs quit. Both times, I was in the harbor with no wind. Stands to reason, that's the only place I'd run the engine anyway.

Day before yesterday, there was not a breath of wind near the harbor, and the bucket of demented parts quit with me 600 feet from the slip. So I sculled home. Sculling involves moving the tiller back and forth like a fish moves a fin. You move it rapidly in one direction, then slowly in the opposite - just like you would move your arms while swimming under water. You change course by moving the tiller only from the center to the opposite side in which you desire to turn. I enjoyed moving along slowly, propelling myself with the tiller. It works, but it's slow. It took me over an hour to get to the mouth of the harbor. I'm not complaining.

I believe this technique is possible on a boat having a wheel instead of a tiller - but considering most boats with wheels require more than a full revolution of the wheel to move the rudder through a full side-to-side deflection, the technique would rapidly exhaust anyone using it. Chalk up another advantage of tillers over wheels.

So once I was in the harbor channel, all these boats passed me. While passing, one skipper asked: "Are you aground?" I said, no, I'm just sculling back to my slip. He looked at me as if I had grown two heads. A sailboat came along (under power) and asked if I needed a tow. I said: "No. Do you?" I then laughed and thanked him, and explained that I was moving along fine by sculling. He said: "Doing what?" I repeated my explanation. He said: "Don't you know that's impossible without a special mount for a long oar?" And I said: "Gee, I wish you'd told me that before I'd sculled my boat this far."

I got it all the way into the harbor and into my slip. The same gentleman was standing on the neighboring dock watching me round the corner, turn 90 degrees right, line up with the slip, and propel my boat ever-so-slowly into its berth. He was all bug-eyed at my violation of the laws of physics. Good thing there weren't any physics cops to catch me.

I sail a Pearson Ariel. It's 25 feet 7 inches overall, and 3,500 pounds gross. For sculling, I believe that size doesn't matter, but patience does.

Your actual mileage may vary.
Nicely done....
 

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Telstar 28
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Of course, sculling with the rudder tends to be possible only in fairly benign conditions....any sort of contrary current or wind and you're toast.
 

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I've never sculled. I did row my previous two boats (20', one ton; 26', four tons) when necessary. Usually I just waited for a breeze. Rowing them wasn't hard, there was no point in trying to go fast, a steady stroke yielded half a knot. I made a long oar from a piece of spruce staging plank.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I used to row my Folkboat, which did not have an engine. I had a single long sweep which had a loop of line that I tossed over a winch and rowed facing forward. Once up to speed it was pretty easy to keep moving. I would tie the helm slightly over and then varied the speed of my stroke to hold a course.

I have tried sculling bigger boats on a number of occasions and its not that efficient without a properly shaped oar, and I found it hard on the wrists having to rotate the blade under load.

I would not suggest sculling a boat with its rudder as a regular means of transport since it wears out the pindles and gudgeons or the rudder post prematurely.

Jeff
 
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