How To Modify Dinghy Oarlocks
Row your (inflatable) boat: If you acquire a sturdy set of oars and modify the oarlocks, you can propel your dinghy without using an engine.
Unfortunately, the standard equipment on most inflatables (pictured) isn’t designed for powerful rowing.
If your dinghy has a different oarlock design, this whole operation can be performed on a variety of other inflatable boats as long as the fabric is Hypalon-reinforced. This is what I had to do on our latest inflatable, which came with the boat we bought. First you need to acquire a pair of the Avon-style oarlocks, which are available at Defender, or you can even remove them from an old Avon inflatable.
Next you’ll need to remove the oarlocks that came on your inflatable. You should work on a fully inflated boat. Use a heat gun to soften the original glue, then pull off the fittings. The only tricky situation arises when a manufacturer has installed oar holders over an air-tube glue seam. It can still be done by warming the piece to be removed very slowly and pulling it all off before the seam underneath gets hot.
Pulling the fitting off may leave blobs of old glue on the surface. To remove it, use mineral spirits or 3M Adhesive Remover. You must sand the fabric before gluing. Put the new Avon oarlocks in the right spots, mark the outlines, then place masking tape to border the areas to be sanded. The more abrasion, the better, so use 60-grit sandpaper on a small sanding block. Abrade the undersides of the new oarlocks as well. Refresh the masking tape, then wipe everything clean with toluene or a similar solvent.