Oar/paddle while rigged for sail

Hello! First time posting here,

I spent the last year restoring a Mirror (62183) I adopted from a friend, and yesterday I sailed it for the first time. I am pretty new to sailing but I have a small amount of experience, and a lot to learn.

Can anyone recommend the best way to oar or paddle a Mirror while rigged for sail?

On my way back to shore, I met with some opposing winds while tacking back into the cove that I launched from. The wind turned me about and sent me away twice before I resorted to the oars. I struck the main & jib, and my crew mate held the boom up as I rowed. We felt (and probably looked) very clumsy doing this.

Is there any advice for a better way, especially for single handed sailing? I read that some people prefer to keep a paddle on board instead of oars when sailing is the main objective. Has anyone fitted a small electric outboard?

Thanks in advance for any ideas!

I keep two paddles in my Mirror in case I have a crew. When I paddle any distance I take down the jib and the mainsail and then paddle.

62816inBerlin's picture

A pair of oars is best for single-handed or two aboard. You do have more leverage and in tight spaces you can still scull over the stern with one oar.

If there is any amount of wind, take all sail down if you intend to row dead into the wind. If there is no wind, you can lower the gaff, tie the boom and sail to it (securely!) and then raise it high enough to be clear of your head (as shown at 15 seconds into the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfWEUnwlEJc) . Then tighten the mainsheet to stop it swinging to and fro. An alternative would be to have a second line to just tie the boom up - I used my reef-position halyard for that purpose, as can be seen at 3:53 into the same video.

However it sounds as if you should learn to tack upwind more efficiently. A Mirror should be able to do ~ 60° to the true wind (my guesstimate, felt - but does anyone have a polar diagram of a Mirror in moderate winds?) so unless you are in a really tight channel or in so shallow water that the board has to be up, you should be able to tack home.
Gernot H.

elbsegler's picture


you estimated 60° to the true wind. I surely do not have a polar diagramm, but my GPS measuremant, with about 2-3 Bft, moderate waves ~30 cm, no current, on the Grevelinger Meer (NL) showed a tacking angle of about 100°, speed 3,5-4 knots, with club sails and the Jib fairleads on the gunwales. That´s not so bad for an old fashioned gaff rigg. But only 2 knots of current against the course, as occurs in many tidal areas, would make tacking almost impossible.

Greetings from Hamburg

62816inBerlin's picture

@Elbsegler : where are your fairleads? I was reluctant to put in an optimistic figure because some Mirrors still have the fairleads on the gunwale. My boat goes upwind a great deal better since I moved them in onto the side deck (also as a matter of necessity - see pages 6 and 7 of my 2011 story ). I could do with a new-cut jib, though.
BTW: JF 2017 - Brandenburger/Plauer Seen in der KW 29 19-23 July.

Cheers and a happy weekend!

Andyh's picture

I added a simple topping lift to our Mirror which is simple and works a treat.
Thinnish halyard, tie bowline to end of boom, take up to small block attached to top of mast, then down to small block attached near to kicker. Take rope back past centreboard casing to which fix an appropriate cleat. In order to depower the main slightly or take boom right up to gaff just pull and cleat. Cheap,reliable, very easy to operate and above all effective.

curlew's picture

You can drop the sails and row normally. Or you can top up the sails somehow out of the way. Or you can hold the boom broad off by tying it to a shroud. Or in light conditions you can row and sail. Sometimes I row with just one oar on the leeward side, I hold the tiller and sheet in one hand and the oar in the other. It is also possible to row facing forwards whilst sailing, useful for short distances. If moving just a few feet, you can use an oar as a paddle. Sometimes if I need to move the boat a little when my boom tent is up, I can crawl onto the foredeck and paddle either side from there. Not easy but possible.

+1 , easy and cheap to rig: Reefing points and a topping lift are the best mods I have made to my mirror.

How is the block attached to the top of the mast? does it have a separate wire strop? I'm thinking of doing this mod as a quick way to move the sail out of the way for short periods when oars are needed.

curlew's picture

My boat is non standard, but I have a double topping lift, which is very good as it catches the gaff as it comes down. It starts from the boom and goes up to the mast, where it passes behind the mast. Then back down to the boom the other side. Adjustments made by a cleat on the boom. A bee block used on the boom so that the line can run forward so it is more accessible.

Pamelita's picture

Thanks curlew. I did exactly what you said. Works great. I screwed in ss eyestraps on either side of the mast to run the line arond the mast. Starts at end of boom, goes up and around mast, then back to an eye strap on end of boom on other side and forward to a jamb cleat.

wgsmith 20647's picture

I keep a paddle on board (clipped in the fore deck). This is usually enough to get to shore against an off shore wind where I am at. I keep the sails up and out of the way, and often get wind bends from the trees around my lake to help me get in. If this does not work, drop the sails, and you can 'easily' paddle in single handed.
BTW if you put clips in the fore deck, make sure they are water tight by dipping the screws in varnish first....... Enjoy!

curlew's picture

I have a slab reefing system. When winds are light and you need to row, you can raise the boom using the aft reefing pendant. This keeps it clear of your head and is very convenient. David