I have a 1983 Keith Steele drift boat that I restored last year and I am working on a few upgrades. When I purchased the boat 2 years ago, it came with 9 ft long Sawyer wooden paddles. They are very heavy on the hands and while I put up with it last season, they are hard on the arms and my wife does not like to row because of the hand weight. The oars weigh 8 lbs. 9 ounces each.
Due to their length I can't move the oar lock ring any farther out on the oar because the butt of the oars are within 4 inches of each other already and they would cross in the center. I am considering three approaches, either individually or perhaps several in tandem. 1)Buying counter balance sleeve weights to add to the top end of the oars, 2) Stripping and resanding the oars and perhaps shaving some diameter to reduce oar weight, and/or 3)Cutting off 6 -12 inches from the handle end and reshaping a new handle.
Any advice one way or the other or any additional ideas would be appreciated.
Seems like #1 would be the most conservative/safest bet. Personally I'd try #3 if I had the tools, but that is because I like 8.5' oars with a 16X48 boat and I don't like the feel of counter-balanced oars.
Can you borrow a set of 8.5' oars before you go there?
I altered my oars after a few times out. They too were heavy. So I reduced the diameter of the oars from 1 7/8" dia to about 1 5/8" dia below the wraps. It made a big difference and so far they are much better rowing. I also thinned the blades a little at the transition to round and in the center of the flat section of the blade.
I'd think while your doing this I'd shorten them the 6 inches as you mentioned.