I liked the shots of the boats with the sculling oars. It always amazed me that you can really get some momentum going with just one oar off the stern.
I've never done it but I remember reading how to do it in an issue of WoodenBoat Magazine years ago.* The Chinese scullers do it the same way as the Venitian scullers--- the trick is how the oar is twisted between one stroke and the other.* It is not simply swept back and forth.*
One difference between the Venitian and Chinese setups is that the Chinese have a thick braided rope that runs beween the end of the scull and the deck.* They pull on the rope to bring the scull to them and push on the scull to move it away from them.* It may be that the rope is fastened to the scull in such a way to help twist it when it is pulled toward the boater.
The Venetian setup does not use a rope but the scull is set in a very unique "oarlock" attached to the side of the boat with (as I remember it) a pair of curved notches that the scull is rested in.* The boater uses whichever of the two notches will give him the boat handling characteristics he wants.
But the trick seems to be "in the wrist" or how the scull is twisted for each stroke.* However they do it, the boats move forward in a straight line rather than yawing back and forth as one might expect.* And a boat can be moved remarkably fast using a scull if the boat is designed for it.
BTW, don't look to the "gondolas" at the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas as an example of how to scull a boat.* While the "gondoleers" have sculls, the boats are actually powered by electric motors and a propeller underneath the hull.* The gondoleer uses two deck switches like the ones we use to control our anchor windlasses to power the "gondolas" forwards or backwards.* He just moves the scull back and forth for effect :-)
-- Edited by Marin on Wednesday 14th of December 2011 03:21:29 PM