The Proper Care and Refinishing of Cataract Oars

By Phil Lehman

Take Care of Your Oars

There’s nothing quite like sunshine and rowing. Spending a day on the river can really boost our vitality and health. But what about the oars we punish with our unrelenting pursuit of action and adventure. Our days basking in the sun and running the river aren’t kind to the oars we rely on. Are we taking care of them like we should?

The suns UV rays take a toll on unprotected oars. Ultraviolet rays will eventual deteriorate your oars. Storing your oars long-term in direct sunlight will degrade the surface even faster. Cataract Oars coats each oar in a protectant to keep the oars looking fresh and at their best. However, even the best protectant can’t hold back the sun forever. So, when not in use, keep your oars stored out of the sun and in a dry area.


Still, years of good use will begin to depreciate your oar’s finish. But, lucky for us, refinishing a Cataract oar is easy. Start by scuffing the surface of the oar shaft with a red ScotchBrite pad, or similar product. Wipe away any debris and let the shaft dry. Then spray the surface with 2-3 coats of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane or other brand of clear gloss. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for coating and drying times between coats.

You can stop there, satisfied that your oar is sufficiently protected, or you can add an additional layer of UV protection with a coat of 303 Protectant. If your oars have seen the rigor of countless trips down the river, refreshing them is simple and cheap.

Inspect not Neglect

Storing your oars properly will extend the life of their finish. To protect oars from wear, store them on a rack handle up. Avoid contact with the blade and the ground to prevent scuffing and scratching on the gravel or concrete. In fact, we recommend removing the blades when not in use. Our blades have a grooved shaft insert that prevents silt build up. Still, it’s always best to separate the blade and shaft after a trip.Be sure to inspect and clean your oars regularly. These babies are your lifeline out on the river, so treat them good. Real good. Visually Inspect for damage. Clean handles and grips. Preventative care goes a long way in extending the life of your oars.

Transporting Oars

But what about when your out and about with your oars? We recommend using a storage bag to transport and carry your oars. Not only will a storage bag block out the UV rays of the sun but make handling multiple oars much easier. Bundling oars and carrying them down to the launch is risky business. Blades knock against each other, and the chances of an oar slipping and being dropped to the ground is high. Avoid these hazards by bundling the oars in a storage bag for carrying. If you don’t have a storage bag, then carry oars one per hand. Don’t overload yourself. And if for some reason you have to lay your oars down on the ground, be gentle.

“I have a pair of Cataract oars, 15 years old, that are starting to shed fiberglass. Can you recommend a sealer I can paint them with?”


Take care of your oars right and you’ll get many years out of them. We receive calls from our customers that after 15/20 years are ready to refinish their oars and want to know how we do it. The best is what we aim for, nothing less.

Tell us about your experience with Cataract oars. What’s your story?

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