A River Connection, Part Three In A Series

How does “The Feel Of Water” translate to the actual experience of rowing a set of Sawyer oars or paddles? How a set of “tubes” or “sticks” work is easy to describe, but the historical uses of rowing for moving goods across oceans, an advantage in warfare, and today in multiple sports and recreational uses, have been changed by technology. Today’s highly-crafted wood and composite products do have heart and soul, as our Ambassador Greg Hatten shares here and on his blog.

A few years ago my nephew Ben came out to Oregon from Tennessee for a three day river trip on the McKenzie. As a high school senior from east of the Mississippi, he had never seen the rivers or the drift boats of the Pacific Northwest and he was pretty excited about the adventure. After we’d spent the better part of the first day on the river together, I invited him to switch places with me, sit on the rope seat, take the oars and row the boat. While only about half the passengers in my boat take me up on the offer, I hadn’t even finished the sentence and my nephew was reaching for the oars. Most of the people who come to the river in my boat have little or no experience on western rivers so rowing a drift boat is outside their comfort zone. It’s a big leap to get on the oars with little or no context for moving water or maneuvering a boat with nothing but a pair of 9’ oars.


For some, the reward for taking that chance can be one of the highlights of the entire experience. I want them on the oars so they can feel the power of the river pushing hard against the blades. I want them to feel that tension and resistence when they pull hard enough to make the shafts flex under the strain. Ideally, I want them to feel the boat move in response to their strokes. It’s the Oars that connect people “physically” to the river. The Oars are an extension of the arms and when those muscles pull powerful strokes against a strong current the rower suddenly become “connected” to the river, the outdoors, the whole wild and scenic experience. It’s magic. Not every oar delivers the connection – I know… I’ve rowed them all. Too stiff and it feels like rowing with “boards”….. too flexible and it feels like rowing noodles. The flex needs to be “just right” for the rower – and every rower has a slightly different preference… it’s a very subjective thing.

MF Salmon

Sawyer Oars consistently delivers on the “connection” by building oars with just the right amount of flex for our Pacific Northwest Rivers – which run harder and faster than most. I’ve rowed Sawyer Oars for years and am always thrilled with their craftsmanship, their attention to detail, and their consistency. For just over fifty years, they have been delivering on their brand promise – building quality oars for all types of river runners. They are located in a place that keeps them true to their roots and their craft – on the banks of the Rogue River, in the heart of the state with the most Wild and Scenic Rivers in the United States… Oregon. Thanks for making us “FEEL” the connection to the Wild and Scenic Rivers we love to run.