New Oars for The Small Reach Regatta – By Richard Honan

Our Spring 2016 catalog featured Richard Honan, boatbuilder and signmaker and – as it turns out – rower extraordinaire. Richard has been building boats for years and we have blogged about his amazing accomplishments many times in this space. Richard has a serious following of jealous friends and he often sends them all email updates when he does something cool or builds something he is proud of (most everything he touches is worthy).DSCN3436

So when Richard told us he was heading to the Small Reach Regatta in Herrick Bay (home of Wooden Boat in Brooklin), we were thrilled to hear his newly fashioned oars were yet another TotalBoat project of his. These gorgeous oars were no afterthought and as Richard told us, he coated them with “TotalBoat Lust Varnish, my new favorite varnish.” Read on as Richard explains how he repurposed some old oars he had on hand for the Melonseed skiff he built and was planning to use for this fun regatta. 


Brothers and sailors – Bill and Richard Honan at the Small Reach Regatta in Brooklin,. Maine

The Small Reach Regatta requires you to have oars aboard your small “sail-and-oar” sailboat, and this fun, multi-day event is fashioned after the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (popular for larger classic yachts) and the european style “raids.” Turns out it was of great interest to boatbuilders like Richard who have some sail-and-oar boats on hand, and time to ghost around this beautiful area in Maine for the few days with like-minded sailors. DSCN3430  DSCN3437SmallReach boats Honan - small reach

From Richard Honan: We’re required to have oar propulsion for the Melonseed for the Small Reach Regatta. Since the 16’00” is 5’2” wide, my regular 7’6” or 8’00” oars were not going to be long enough. Also, the 1” height of the cockpit combing necessitated making raised oarlock pads. I banged out a pair of 9’6” spoon shaped oars, making sure they could be stowed under the deck without blocking access to the beer cooler. Hopefully, my brother Billy, my able bodied crew on this voyage , will find these oars to his liking. There will be between 65 and 70 other similar sized sailboats joining us (Billy and I) for five days in Brooklin Maine.

ProudMary_ Honan

Eddie Breeden – photo.

Last week I discovered that my 7’6” oars from my 15’00” Duck Trap Wherry pulling boat were not long enough for the 5’2” width of the Melonseed. I came up with an idea. Last spring I purchased a used Piantedosi sliding seat for my Adirondack Guide Boat. The sliding seat came with a pair of 9’6” primitive oars with plywood blades. To be honest, they probably would have been fine for the number of times that I’m going to row my Melonseed.
But, being a semi-retired guy who can’t leave well enough alone, I decided to modify them. I saw a standard blade shape for some sculling oars that struck my fancy on the Angus Rowboats website ( I cut the plywood blades off the shafts. I cut up some spruce 2” x 4” ’s, epoxied the spoon shaped blades on either side of the shaft and did a little shaping, add some some cherrywood tips, some Lust Varnish and “Shazam” . . . we have a pair of beautiful, custom made Melonseed rowing oars.

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