That was the ticket. The "new" oars work like a charm. My fingers are numb from stitching the leathers on, but this morning the wind died down so I took her down the channel to the mouth of the harbor. She rows like a dream!!
I need to tweak a few things:
1.) The oars need buttons - Turk's Heads, or leather, I haven't decided. I also need to remove a bit of material from the inside of the oarlock horns. The diameter of the oars with the leathers is a bit snug in there.
2.) I need blocks to elevate the oarlocks about 1" - 1 1/4". My return stroke is a bit wonky, and a small change will go a long way. I have some beautiful locust scrap for these.
3.) Depending on how she feels after making and installing the aforementioned blocks, I may make a new thwart to move myself forward an inch or two (see below).
4.) Some kind of rack for an adjustable foot rest is in order. Frames in a traditional faering are spaced a bit closer together (35-ish inches vs. Valgerda's slightly larger dimension - I have not measured it recently, but recall it at about 38") so that a rower can brace his feet aginst them. As things are now, in order to brace my feet against the frame, my torso interferes with the end of my pull. A foot rest may also eliminate the need for for moving the thwart forward.
As you can imagine, with the exception of the first item, all of the above changes affect each other. Trouyble-shooting 101 says that one should change one item in a system at a time and check results. This holds especially true here.
I don't want to change the geometry too much to suit my rowing technique as I fear I may lock myself into some bad habits. I have never rowed any real distance before. Obviously I have rowed out to a mooring numerous times, but these distances were a matter of a few hundred yards or less. I have never rowed any "quality" craft other than a brief excursion on a sliding seat shell, in which I was a danger to myself and others, and a few mornings on my father-in-law's Gloucester Light Dory. As with anything worth doing, I will need lots of practice before I can begin to do it "right."
If anyone in the Cape Ann area wants to come down and offer some coaching, I'll be happy to get the input.
I'll keep her in the water for another week or two, and she'll get hauled for the winter.
I'd like to continue with building the rig, rudder, hardware, and other remaining items, but I'll need to take a hiatus from the Dark Secret project to get some other stuff done over the winter.
The Thistle needs to have her centerboard trunk out and back in, as well as a significant amount of finish work, Strider's re-power and topsides projects need to get wrapped up (there are many more winters' worth of work to do on her before she is done, but I need to get her back in the water next year), and, most importantly, I have to get a short list of projects done at the house so that my wife doesn't kill me. She has been extremely patient through this project and I don't want to blow it with her by de-prioritizing real priorities.
My hope is that by carefully managing my time I'll be able to get all of it done. I'd like to do the Small Reach Regatta next year with Dark Secret, but there are never enough hours in the day. Something has to give. If I need to back-burnerize anything on the list, it will be the Thistle.
I am hoping to conscript someone to get a few shots of Dark Secret underway. We'll see how that works out...