River trips bring out a lot of emotions and the experience can leave a mark for a long time, especially if you get a tattoo.
“We all play a role in either our success or failure…You will row!” If you’ve spent any amount of time on the water, you’ve heard this before. On a guide boat heading towards a big hole in the river, or the hallowed words of Hunter & Garcia, “Seems a common way to go, get out and row..” Last week, a social media post from Master Gunnery Sargeant Jeff Shaffer thanking Sawyer for creating a unique service award caught our attention, and it seemed there was more to the story to share.
“The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides bending the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner.” ~ The Scroll Marked III, OG Mandino, The Greatest Salesman In The World
Jeff, thank you for creating this unique recognition award and including Sawyer in the process. How did this idea come about?
“I am responsible for the training and development of Marines attached to Marine Corps Recruiting Station Cleveland, Ohio, which covers northern Ohio and southeast Michigan. Prior to being assigned to this unit in July of 2017, I started thinking of something which could bring these Marines together, and help them understand their individual importance. I wish I could say the idea behind the oars was something I could fully take credit for, but that’s not the case. It was actually based on what P.J. Fleck, now head football coach of the University of Minnesota started with his first football team in 2012. When I saw how he used the oar as a symbol to bring his team and community together, it just made sense.”
Rivers are known to forge nature, and the humans that live and play in their deep canyons, broad plains, and treacherous waves. The power of water, the forces that bend and shape us; what connection do you personally feel to the water, and what does the oar symbolize to you and to the Marines?
I have always been an outdoorsman, gaining a love for nature very early in life. For me, water, especially that of our rivers, lakes and seas, represents life, and is something to respect and appreciate. I unveiled this idea in 2017 at an annual planning conference I put together in West Virginia. Mid-week, I took them on a rafting trip down the New River. We discussed afterwards the journey we had taken, and then I tied in my “Row the Boat” vision. This must have resonated well, because they all wanted to get back on the water as soon as possible. We just so happened to be right in the middle of the Fall Gauley Season, so we rafted the Upper Gauley, which was just tremendous! This was repeated again this past year, and will likely occur again this year.
When rowing a boat, everyone faces the aft of the vessel. The oars are being pulled through the water while traveling to the destination, with those who are rowing only focused on keeping their oars in the water. Everyone in our unit “Rows the Boat”, and so, everyone has an oar. The oar represents the individual. It is the tool necessary to move the vessel towards our goals. The “vessels” are the small units which make up the organization. Certain people/organizations in our community also have oars, something we are continually building upon. There is a compass as well, which is embedded in the blade of the oar of those in supervisory positions. They are responsible for keeping the boat on course, and providing those with the oars in the water directions to ensure the vessel is heading towards the destination.
Every oar has a plaque affixed to it, which has the Marine’s name, the unit logo, and the phrase, “Row The Boat.” Based on each Marines’ performance, there are different items which can be attached to their oars, as well as Para-cord wrappings. At the end of their tour, they take their oar with them as a symbol of their importance to the unit.
The Sawyer “Smoker” Oar became our official oar after I had ordered a few other examples from other companies, and was less than impressed in their quality. When I called to find out about the oars, I had a conversation with Aaron Stone (Account Territory Manager based in Colorado) and explained to him who I was and what I wanted the oars for, and he was more than happy to assist me with my vision. It turns out, he is a Marine (Once a Marine, Always a Marine), which made this whole idea that much more perfect.
The oar is a specially-made SMOKER Utility, a quality solid ash oar for small water craft, fishing pontoon boats, dories and drift boats. Built with the same profile as our Sawyer Utility Oar, but with the added strength of solid ash, making this the toughest commercial grade wood oar made. They truly are the best oar for commiting situations where strength and long term durability is essential. Good match, I’d say.
Next up, wise words from the Bighorn River, MT. Until next time, Eddy Out.
A young man from east of the Mississippi, the largest river in the United States, travels west to experience the Wild & Scenic Rogue River in Oregon.
Smoker Oars have been 100% Made in USA since 1921. Over the years, Smoker Oars has made the toughest oars on the planet from solid Northern White Ash. Smoker Oars were part of the US Marine Corp and Navy Seal secret missions leading to the success of World War II. Smoker Oars were the first oars down the Grand Canyon. Here at Smoker Oars, we’re proud to launch the lightest weight yet incredibly durable Smoker Bandit series for modern day combat fishing in high performance drift boats.
The Smoker Bandit and Smoker Bandit Shoal continue the legacy of the highest quality, rugged and now lightweight professional grade oars for our global network of professional fishing guides. Our professional anglers row over 1,000 strokers per river mile sweeping the river for the perfect catch. The proprietary blend of carbon twill reinforced with tough fiberglass make for the perfect flex and feel on every stroke.
The Smoker Bandit blades are handcrafted with the toughest materials known to whitewater.
Lengths are available from 8″ up to 10’ at 6″ increments.
For the longest life and best performance, we recommend packaging these beauties with the legendary Cobra Oar Locks. The Cobra Oar locks give the highest range of motion while protecting the shaft in extreme conditions.
For more information or to order your own set, contact Team Sawyer below via email, or call (541) 535-3606
Sawyer is proud to partner with artists and Save Our Wild Salmon conservation efforts to protect and restore wild salmon, steelhead and the healthy river systems they depend on. “Save Our Wild Salmon is honored to partner with Sawyer on this project to raise awareness and funds to support our advocacy efforts,” says Joseph Bogaard, executive director of the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition. “Healthy fisheries, healthy rivers and responsible companies like Sawyer Paddles and Oars remind us all about how environment and economy can, and must, go hand-in-hand.”
Hear from Ty Hallock about his design and inspiration and learn more at his website – http://www.tyoutdoors.com
Salmon and Steelhead are iconic species in the PNW. What do you want people that aren’t familiar with the efforts to save them to know about the work and your art being done on their behalf?”
Even though I drew a Brown Trout for the Artisan Series Salmon and steelhead have a special place in my heart. I was a pretty serrious fly fisherman when I moved to the Columbia River area in 2002. I instantly fell in love with the area and all the fish found in this amazing place. I was living alone when I first moved to the area. I fished everyday for three months until my wife could join me from California. It took me a long time to catch any steelhead but once I did it increased my passion for fly fishing. I noticed some issues while fishing all the areas around hood river. I was working for USGS tracking salmon through this river system. The dams had/have passage issues and it was great being apart of this tracking to help identify problem areas in the Columbia. I always want to do more to help but never really know what to do. I give art to many different agencies that help protect and help preserve habitat for many fish species. To have my art help these iconic species is a true honor and I am happy to help!