I am often driving around the countryside collecting or delivering oars, but now I’ve done it internationally!

One client has asked for 10 oars to be painted. Not only would the artwork on each need to be the same, the oars would need to be a matching set. I had more than enough individual oars in stock, but not set this large.

Luckily I had recently arranged to purchase a large number of timber oars from a club in Ghent. These were patiently awaiting the next big regatta so that they could ‘hitch’ a ride back to the UK on a trailer, but now I had to go and collect them!

After braving a slightly rough Dover-Dunkirk ferry crossing (it’s been about four years since I’ve been at sea, and that was in a 41ft racing yacht) I drove to Ghent. Luckily the club had accommodation upstairs which made my journey a bit cheaper. My host helped me load up the car with all the sweep oars before we headed out for a celebratory beer.


There was a set of 10 Sutton oars that would be used for my big job. The remaining six were a mix of ages and manufacturers.

The journey home was surprisingly uneventful. With the oars well secured there was no trouble on the road, and I was very relieved not to be stopped by a traffic cop or a customs official at any point. The seas were even calm on the voyage to Dover.

Back at the workshop I set to the hard work of stripping off about eight layers (and 40 years) of paint. The bare blades were in very good condition overall with few repairs needed. The oar shafts have now been stripped back and are each getting three coats of new varnish. With 30 coats to complete I did get off to a great start with the recent warm weather, but the cold return has put the brakes on things a bit!

I hope to be able to show the complete renovation in a week or two. The whole job is due at the end of May, so with the permission of the client I plan to do a big reveal later on.