How to Figure Out the Size of the Oars You Need for Your Boat

Written by kathryn hatter
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How to Figure Out the Size of the Oars You Need for Your Boat
Determine the proper size oars for your boat. (boat by lake image by NatJag from

As you outfit your row boat with the necessary accessories, properly fitting oars is of paramount importance. To achieve effective and comfortable oar strokes to propel your boat through the water, you must have oars that work proportionately with the size of your boat. One way to figure out what length oars you need is to measure the width of the boat, then perform a simple math equation. Armed with this information, you can select appropriate oars for your boat.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Calculator

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  1. 1

    Measure the beam of your boat (the width) at the point of the oar locks (the clips that hold the oars in place) using the tape measure. Divide this number in half. For example, if your beam measurement is 60 inches, divide it in half to get 30 inches.

  2. 2

    Multiply the halved beam measurement by 25, then divide the answer by 7. Using the same example, you'd multiply 30 by 25 to get 750. Divide this answer by 7 to come up with 107.14 inches. Finally, divide this number by 12 to get an answer in feet (8.92 feet).

  3. 3

    Round the number up to the closest 6-inch increment if your boat is longer than 10 feet. Round your answer down to the closest 6-inch increment if your boat is shorter than 10 feet. Using the example above, you'd round your answer up to 9 feet if your boat is longer than 10 feet, and you'd round it down to 8.5 feet if your boat is less than 10 feet long.

  4. 4

    Purchase oars the length you figured in Step 3. According to Barkley Sound Oar and Paddle Ltd., you may wish to increase or decrease your oar length by 6 inches depending upon how you hold the oars.

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