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Jon Boat Oarlock Installation

by Eric Cedric

Jon boats are low-to-the-water fishing boats typically used by bass and crappie anglers. Jon boats often are equipped with high-backed swivel chairs on the decks to give a high stance when fishing. A kicker motor (small gas powered motor) or light electric trolling motor is often used with these boats to give quiet propulsion through the fishing waters. An alternative to using a motor is to equip the boat with a set of oars. To use this setup, a set of oarlocks must be installed on the boat. Clamping on the oarlocks removes the need to drill any holes in the boat.

1.

Measure to the center of the boat. Go to each side of the boat and on the inside of the hull, mark the middle point. Find the inside lip at the mid-point on both interior sides of the hull.

2.

Position the oarlock on the marked point on the inside of the hull. Take the oarlock mounting bracket, a metal sleeve with the oar-pin inserts, and rest it on the hull lip, so the bracket and oar-insert are on the inside of the boat.

3.

Slide the retaining pin through the top of the bracket and slide the washer and nut onto the threads where they extend out the bottom. Hand tighten the nut.

4.

Align the opposite side oarlock directly across the boat and repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the other oarlock bracket.

5.

Tighten the nuts using the power drill and socket.

6.

Place the oars into the oarlock inserts and see if they are too loose. If the oar pins are too loose, remove and then slide in a nylon bushing insert into the oarlock. Place the oars back into the inserts and check. The oars should move fully, with no more than 2mm on either side in the inserts.

7.

Slide the insert-pins through the holes in the oar-inserts to lock them in the oarlocks.

Items you will need

  • Oarlocks
  • Measuring tape and marker
  • Retaining pins-bolts, nuts and washers
  • Bushings and rigging-pins
  • Nut and nylon washer stacks
  • Nylon spacers (optional)
  • Power drill with sockets

Tip

  • Jon boats are narrow, with most being approximately 4 to 6 feet wide. As a general rule, an oar should have two feet of handle-rowing space on the inside of the boat. This two feet should be one-third the length of the oar, with two-thirds sticking out for blade use. Look for 6-foot long oars for Jon boats.

About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.