Shaw & Tenney Blog
At Shaw & Tenney we think an artisan paddle should be just that, a work of art, not just a colorful pattern on a piece of wood. We also believe that every paddle we make, whether it’s hanging above your hearth or in the boat house ready for the next adventure, should be of the same exceptional quality and functionality.
As another incredible summer draws to an end here in Maine, we wanted to celebrate the season by giving one lucky customer a piece of art that would keep them inspired until next spring. Enter to win a limited edition signed print of Second Machias Lake with custom frame made from the 100 – 400-year-old river wood recovered from Quakish Lake in Maine.
In May, our general manager Sam Martinelli and his girlfriend Sarah paddled the entire 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway alone. The annual R&D trip.
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary, Shaw & Tenney created the new Allagash Paddle, part of our Signature paddle line, featuring and engraved map of the entire Waterway hand-drawn by Sam.
Here is the trip in Sam’s words and his awesome photos.
Everyone at Shaw & Tenney is a craftsman, what we do is unique and really a lost art.
We regularly make long oars from 12’ up to 21’ for all kinds of vessels. From Monomoy lifeboat oars racing in the Bay Area Whaleboat Racing Association in San Francisco to a single 17’ oar serving as the sole auxiliary power for a sailboat circumnavigating the World. Large 15’-2” Lifeboat oars for Carnival Cruise Lines lifeboats are no exception. We recently completed 20 of the oars shown here with a few of our craftsmen for one of their cruise ships. We are the only manufacturer of long oars in the USA and one of a handful in the World.
How to Size Your Oars
To determine the correct length oar for your boat measure the distance between the port and starboard oar sockets. Then apply the Shaw and Tenney oar length formula to determine the oar length that will provide the correct 7:18 leverage ratio. This length will provide an oar where 7/25 the length is inboard of the oarlocks and 18/25 of the oar is outboard of the oarlocks. It is the ideal ratio to row almost all boats. Sized correctly, when rowing your hands will be 1 to 3 inches apart and you will be pulling directly towards your abdomen. If you are popping out of your oarlocks when rowing your oars are far too short. If you prefer an overlapping grip, add 6” to the calculated oar length. If you have more than one rowing station in your boat, measure both. Typically they will require two different length oars which is fine if you’re going to be rowing tandem and need two sets. Otherwise you’ll need to compromise the correct length to work properly in both stations. If you are rowing more than 75% in one station size the oar to that length. As always feel free to call us and were happy to help you select the correct oar length and blade style for your boat.
The Original Shaw & Tenney Oar Length Formula
To help our customers size their oars correctly, we’ve been using the same formula since 1858: Measure the distance between the center of the port and starboard oar sockets, which hold the oar locks on each gunnel. This is called the “span” between the oarlocks. Divide the span by 2, and then add 2 to this number. The result is called the “inboard loom length” of the oar. Multiply the loom length by 25, and then divide that number by 7. The result is the proper oar length in inches. Round up or down to the closest 6” increment.
How to Size Your Paddle
For traditional wooden paddles the ideal length for the Stern paddler is the bridge of your nose or 6 inches less than your height. For the bow paddler the paddle reaching the cleft of your chin or 9 inches less than your height is correct.
For our Racine paddle if you are over 5’6” tall select the 63-1/2” length and the shorter paddle if you are under5’-6”tall.
When paddling solo we typically recommend a bow length paddle. For Canadian style solo most paddlers prefer an even shorter paddle.
For paddling canoes when standing (yes our mother let us do this) a 69 inch or 72 inch paddle is usually about right.