Oar saddle
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A rowing frame is disclosed which, in the preferred embodiment, is adapted to mount on an inflatable boat. The frame can be disassembled and/or folded into a small package for storage, compatible with the deflated boat. The rowing frame assembles into a rigid configuration that mounts on the gunwales/side tubes of the inflatable boat. Mounting slots, tabs, and straps are provided for attachment to the boat. Each saddle includes a mounting for an oar tower support. The rowing saddle includes a vertically extending oar tower that, in the water, provides fore and aft support to the oars, resists lateral forces, and propels the boat. In alternative embodiments, the frame can be mounted on any other small boat or dinghy, and when not in use, can be disassembled and stowed.

Rotchy, Kent Davis (Santa Rosa, CA, US)
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What is claimed as new is:

1. For use in combination with any inflatable boat, an oar saddle adapted to be supported by the boat, and said saddle comprising of: a. a first saddle/frame member adapted to mount over a first radius of the inflatable side tube. b. a second saddle/frame member adapted to mount over a second radius of the inflatable side tube, substantially athwart ship from the first radius of the inflatable side tube. c. in some cases, a first and second athwart ship connecting members are added, one being adapted to ride at the floor of the boat athwart ship, both joining said first and second saddle/frame members. d. each oar tower affixed to said first saddle frame member centered or outboard of the inflatable side tube and extending vertically to house an oar lock tower. The oar lock tower has a hole that accepts almost all available oar locks. Resistance to lateral vertical motion placed on the oars and the saddle frame provides the structural rigidity to the combination necessary for propulsion, with the boat merely furnishing the necessary buoyancy to the combination.

2. For use in combination with an inflatable boat having buoyancy tubes, a rowing saddle or cradle/frame comprising of: a. first and second frame members adapted to partially wrap the buoyancy tubes forming to the sides of the boat; said saddle/frame members being secured in place when the buoyancy tubes are inflated. b. in some cases, first and second forward cross members rigidly interconnecting said first and second saddle/frame members athwart ship.

3. A kit of disassembled components adapted when assembled to form a rowing combination for an inflatable boat having buoyancy tubes, comprising of: a. For larger boats, a forward cradle member including attaching to each saddle enclosing elements, and upper and lower athwart ships cross members giving lateral support to inflatable side tubes.



The present invention relates to a floating, buoyant hull structure such as (but not limited to) inflatable rafts and inflatable kayak-type boats, and more particularly to a rowing saddle and frame that is adapted to be mounted on a floating, buoyant hull structure such as an inflatable boat (including rafts and kayak-types).

It is common knowledge that most rafts and inflatable kayak-type boats can be converted to row-able boats by the addition of an appropriate frame structure to support oars/paddles. Typically, a rowing frame is made up of aluminum tubing running the length of the raft, providing points of attachment for the rowing oar to set in and the framework for coolers and gearboxes to be attached to. This has generally worked well in most applications when there is room to store and transport the bulky and heavy aluminum pipe used in the framework.

Since the advent of rubber and plastics, inflatable boats have increased popularity. These inflatable boats, which during the war were utilized as life rafts and dinghies, have been improved and developed to the point where they are currently being sold by specialized (Clavey River Equipment) and national (NRS, Sterns and Avon Inflatables) companies.

Manufacturers catalogs can include the following types of boats: dinghies that range from eight to 20 feet in length, sport boats that are adapted to operate with outboard motors, and rigid inflatables, which can include a fiber glass rigid hull. The sport boats range from five to 16 feet in length, and the rigid hull boats range from 13 to almost 18 feet in length. In recent years, there have been a large variety of inflatable-type crafts arriving on the market. Versions include inflatable kayaks, inflatable canoes, and many other shapes and sizes of inflatable boats.

Inflatable boats have achieved widespread acceptance and distribution as life rafts for aircraft and marine vessels. In such cases, they are compact, and easily stored, deployed and—using compressed gas cylinders—inflated. In recent years, inflatables used as life rafts have been modified in a variety of ways. However, such a structure is not easily propelled without the use of a conventional paddle or kayak paddle and, would generally drift aimlessly at the mercy of the winds, waves, and prevailing currents.

A common feature shared by the inflatables is the largely flat sole, or floor, made of a fluid, impermeable, flexible sheet. In higher-end inflatables, a plastic impregnated fabric is used, while less sturdy versions utilize a heavy gage film such as P.V.C. A primarily cylindrical inflation tube provides buoyancy and also serves as the hull of the craft. The buoyancy tubes can be adapted with tubular frames to hold coolers, camp gear, oarlocks, outboard beckets and lifelines.

The buoyancy tubes can be subdivided or compartmentalized for safety so that a rupture does not necessarily cause the inflatable to lose buoyancy. Another feature of most inflatable boats is their substantial resistance to capsizing, resulting from rotation about a longitudinal axis. Adding to this the wide beam and low center of gravity makes the boats extremely stable.

The very flat bottom of the inflatable, while of great benefit in assuring stability and resistance to capsizing can subject the boat to “skidding” under the force of the strong weather or rough water. This can cause paddling to become harder since the craft is very sensitive to unequal application of propelling forces by the paddles.

Some of the newer raft designs also have tubular chambers that run the length of the craft. These can give the boat some directional stability and in addition to acting as a built in rudder. Because the inflatable is not rigid and, on the contrary, is resilient and flexible, no serious efforts have been made to adapt the large cumbersome frame and oaring connection of the boat to a compact, removable package that attaches to the boat. Most inflatable rafts are used either for emergency use or by river rafters for fishing, hunting and sight seeing. When rafting in the river, the user needs to direct the movement of the boat while the river pulls the boat along the current.

Within the last decade, many companies have discovered a market for a long, narrow raft design. These longer inflatables are generally designed for white water rafting, as a one or two-person boat. Because these boats started out as inflatable kayaks or inflatable canoes, kayak or conventional paddles usually propel them. As the designs evolved, the width of the crafts increased to add stability, gear storage and total load capacity.

The use of kayak or conventional paddles is not as functional in a wider craft because of the additional body movement required to propel the craft. In many of the wider crafts, when using a kayak paddle, the blade is almost vertical over the rower/oar person and showers the user with water. The use of an oar assembly provides more than twice the maneuverability and propulsion of conventional or kayak paddles.

Many of these inflatables are the boat-of-choice for fly-in trips, or are shipped to exotic or distant destinations via a mail or freight delivery service. Some are carried in by horses, and others by Sherpas. Because of the travel method of these rafts, the lighter the better, and the use of a large frame assembly is a disadvantage in many of these situations.

With a suitable newer design of a lightweight oaring saddle adaptation, the overall weight of the equipment when packed for shipping or transportation would be greatly reduced, while providing the same benefits of a larger tubular rowing frame. Fitting the oar saddle adaptation to the inflatable allows the oars to propel the craft in the desired direction with minimal physical exertion on the part of the person rowing.


According to the present invention, a disassemblable rowing saddle frame is provided which is adapted to mount upon and be supported by the buoyancy tubes of the inflatable boat. In larger applications, additional connection members at floor and side tube height combine to provide a support structure, which is sometimes necessary for sufficient structural stability for larger boats.