Latest News: Forums Cruising Fitting Rowlocks

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  • #4388

    Dear Cruisers

    We are fitting rowlocks to a Wayfarer Mark 2. Have read the notes on page 59 of the Wayfarer book. Going for these off

    My question is, can you just drill the hole, fit the plate and have done with it? Or is there a need to have a metal sleeve into which the rowlock fits?

    Any other tips gratefully received,

    Trevor Thompson

    Bob Harland

    There should be some timber pads under the deck to help support the rowlock plates. The hole should pass through the timber. There is no need for anything beyond the plate – as long as you have the timber pad.
    The screws for the plates should go into the timber.

    Be sure to get the hole in the right place.

    hope that helps



    Many thanks – so drill the main hole into the wood block beneath (noted that) fit the plate over the hole (screws also into wood) and all should be well? Is there a way to stop your rowlocks being lost over the side if you accidentally/somehow lift them out with the oar whilst rowing? What keeps them in place?


    Bristol UK


    I’ve fitted rowlocks to Wayfarers on three separate occasions (and two different boats).
    First one was in a composite MkI which had wooden blocks in place under the side decks. I spent a lot of time sitting on the thwart pretending to row and ensuring that I got the holes in the right place. I put them as far outboard as I could without the rowlocks hitting the hull. However after a season’s use I had to admit that I had made a mistake, as the sockets needed to be further outboard. I subsequently had a capsize and lost my rowlocks, so ended up with a new set which included new plates, prompting me to improve their positioning.
    For my second attempt, I made little marine ply wedges to fit under each rowlock plate; this meant that the rowlocks would be canted outwards slightly. matching the slope of the hull, and enabling me to put them an in further outboard. It doesn’t sound like much but the difference was huge- wish I had done it like this first around. Oh, and I also tied the rowlocks in with a length of thin line so that i wouldn’t lose them again.

    (A couple of years later, I sold that W and got my current one, to which I fitted rowlocks, which I duly lost in a capsize. I am now on my fourth set of rowlocks and, yes, these ones are tied in!)

    Bob Harland

    The rowlocks do want to be as far outboard as possible – but the gunwhale construction does limit this. Ones I have seen tend to be eccentric on the wooden pad.
    The problem being that the oar will tend to foul the outer edge of the gunwhale – this depends on the length of the oars and to a lesser extend the rower’s technique. Raising the rowlock can help – but then may leave a bit of a lump for the crew to sit on when sailing.
    When I fitted out our World I drilled a small hole first – to be sure the position was correct.

    Everything should be tied on or secured to the boat in some way – especially if it does not float. On rowlocks, either the small eye in the end, or a snug line around the neck. Have the lanyard long enough so that the rowlocks can be unshipped and sit snuggly somewhere without detaching the lanyard.
    BTW rowlocks do come in different diameters, so make sure you match them against the oars+collar diameter. The idea being that the oars will not lift out of the rowlocks when you are rowing. The oar has to be placed in the rowlock where it is thinner. You should not have a problem with the rowlocks lifting out of the sockets when rowing.
    PS Galvanised are perfectly adequate as far a strength is concerned.




    Thanks for these further refinements. If one goes for the canted plate method (raising the inner edge of the plate I assume), would one design the wedge and then drill the main hole for the rowlock secondarily – to get the correct angle into the block. I’m hearing the rowlock should sit as far out as possible. Our sweeps are 8foot in length.

    Kind regards



    May I just confirm – no “sleeve” is required?


    Hi, We fitted plates to our Mk2 and screwed them into the wooden plate as described, but after a short time the screws had pulled out, so we replaced the screws with bolts. This meant taking out the buoyancy to do the job and refitting it, a bit messy but easy enough and much more secure for a long row. Hope this helps. Vince



    I really like the idea of bolts rather than screws



    1) making the wedges- they are very thin so the exact angle of the hole doesn’t matter really. On my MkI the wedges were about 5mm high at the inboard side and came to a point at the outboard end. The wedge should match the angle of the hull so your measurements may be slightly different. You don’t want to raise the rowlock sockets any higher than necessary as you will be sitting on them! I used marine ply and I think solid wood would just split when you put the hole through it.

    2) On Oar length, I had 8ft on the MkI which was OK, but for some reason on my World these feel too short now- maybe the thwart is lower and it makes rowing uncomfortable? I am experimenting with longer oars that are about 9’6″.

    3) A ‘sleeve’ (I think a ‘collar’ is the proper term?) will protect the oars from chafe, and help to locate the oars in the rowlocks.

    4) Through-bolting is better than using screws, and if you have access to allow this I would do it this way without doubt.


    Interested to see your comment Vince as I find I have exactly the same problem. How did you remove the buoyancy? And how did you re-fit? I was hoping that some Araldite would keep the rowlock sleeve in place without having to remove the buoyancy blocks, but clearly bolts would be better. Also while there is a timber support on the starboard side, there’s just GRP on the port deck.


    Another couple of thoughts/options:

    Raise the rowlock in the hole by fixing a packer under the neck of the rowlock. Mine are raised by probably 25mm and this doesn’t give your crew an uncomfortable seat.

    My rowlocks are kept below deck held in a short length of garden hose fixed to the side of each thwart, secured with a line of course.

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