Damage inflicted to the steering module (oar lock, steering arm, steering arm platform) can be as equally detrimental as gunwale damage and just as costly. If the damage is severe enough the boat will be rendered unusable. Fortunately steering module damage is completely preventable using common sense steering practices.

Basic Anatomy of the Steering Module:

  • Oar Lock: Comprised of a metal u-bolt that is secured to the steering arm via metal washers and nuts.
  • Steering Arm: Wood beam that is bolted to the steering arm platform. 
  • Steering Arm Platform: Platform that is used to secure the steering arm to the rear stern. 
  • Rear Stern: Irreplaceable structurally part of the boat. If the stern is damaged the boat is totalled.

Degrees of Steering Module Damage:

  • Damage to the oar lock: Moderate fix.
  • Damage to the steering arm: Difficult fix. 
  • Damage to the steering arm platform: Extremely difficult fix.
  • Damage to the stern: I hope your insurance covers Dragon Boat replacement.
Steering Arm Ripped From Steering Platform Oar Lock Damaged From Oar Undertow Steering Arm Platform Replacement

Common Causes of Steering Module Damage:

  • Oar undertow
  • Collisions

Nearly all damage to the oar lock and steering arm is due to what we like to call "oar undertow". Oar undertow occurs when a steers person makes the mistake of keeping the oar in the water when the boat is in reverse and as a result the steering oar is towed down into the water, wrapped under the steering arm and dragged towards the front of the boat. When oar undertow occurs the steering oar acts as a giant pry bar which generates an immense amount of torque strong enough to bend the oar lock, break the steering arm and rip the steering arm platform from the stern.

What to Do In The Event of Oar Undertow:

  • Have paddlers hold the boat hard immediately.
  • Return to dock and report any damage.