The Scullmatix is a simple device to make sculling a boat almost automatic. It is made from 1/8" stainless steel plate and has two 5/16" SS carrage bolts with wingnuts. It weights just under 2 lbs. It is very robust - it should last several lifetimes.
A little history
Nearly a year ago, I learned of Guy Capra and his amazing automatic sculling machine. He had invented a simple device that would allow anyone to move a fairly large boat around with a single oar. You have probably seen this done, especially in movies set in Hong Kong or similar exotic locations where the natives propell their sometimes large craft with the simple use of an oar over the stern of the boat. Perhaps you tried it yourself and found it impossibly hard to do. Guy's genius is that it makes the process as simple as wagging the end of the oar back and forth. Here is the video that Guy made after his first prototype:
As you can see from this video, he is able to propel the boat and steer it with only an oar, a wooden handle and the Scullmatix device.
Where did it come from?
I immediately contacted Guy to ask where we could buy his wonderful invention but was told that there were none but his in existance. So knowing that our friends at Race-Lite were very good at making things out of Stainless Steel I suggested that we have some made here in the states and a deal was struck.
So, Prototypes were made and sent to Guy for approval and when we had it right, I tested one for myself. I found it did everything it was supposed to do - even to the point of working on the little jonboat in the video below. You will notice Sandra protesting my movement because it is such a small boat. The Scullmatix really shines when used on a larger boat - like the typical trailersailer.
How does it work?
The principal behind the Scullmatix is very simple: The offset between the handle and the oar causes the blade to turn to the proper angle to move the boat when you sweep the handle in one direction. Then, when you sweep the other way, the handle shifts the angle the other to keep you moving. It is only necessary to keep your grip somewhat loose to allow the handle to make this shift. Watch the two videos and you will get the idea.
How do I set the thing up?
The ScullMatix is designed to be used with a handle that is 1-1/2” (40mm) diameter, and an oar
that is 1-3/4” (45mm) in diameter. This system allows you to automatically replicate the
complex movement of sculling simply by alternately sweeping the handle back and forth.
Furthermore it allows the use of a standard oar rather than a dedicated sculling oar. It comes
with two bolts in a square base with wing nuts so you can mount or dismount quickly without
You will need: A wood handle about 40 inches long – a round post hole digger handle will work – and a standard rowboat oar, the length depending on your boat.
Set up and in use your Scullmatix should look like this:
• Insert the handle into the smaller side of the Scullmatix, leaving it a bit proud as shown
• Insert the oar into the larger side of the device which should now be on top. Make sure
the blade is perpendicular to the plane of ScullMatix. Now, very firmly tighten the wing
nuts with pliers or a wrench.
• Drop the assembly into your oarlock or sculling slot with the ScullMatix on the inside. All
should easily take a natural position with the blade horizontal in water and the handle
in the down position as shown below.
• With the blade of the oar in the water, begin sweeping the ScullMatix from one side to
the other, and so on.
• Let the handle rotate freely as you sweep back and forth – this will allow the blade to
naturally take the correct angle for sculling. Notice that is reverses position on each
The boat will begin to move from the first sweep. When the boat reaches speed, your effort
will be reduced and you will move forward slowly and surely! Sculling is a low power propulsion
system which should preferably be used when there is little or no wind. Under these
conditions, the ScullMatix will allow you to move heavy boats with ease of operation and little
It Works! - and quite well, I might add. Granted it is low power and a little slow, but VERY VERY easy to do. I used it on an old 14' aluminum Arkansas Traveler river boat (pointed nose). I cut a piece of 1 x 6 appx 18" long and then a "U" shaped notch in one end. I then used a "C" clamp to attach the piece to the transom with the notch "UP" (of course).
I had a head wind at times of 5 to 10 MPH, and was still able to make very satisfactory headway. Turning is not a problem, once you have the hang and feel of the oar.
Replace the bolts and wing nuts with plain hex head cadium plated or galvanized - the stainless (if that's what they were) gauled when trying to tighten them and had to be "cut" off and replaced -
A regular "oarlock" would be better, and I would recommend using leather around the oar to prevent excessive wear.
Hope I got the spelling right. Tried out the Scullmatix today at Lake Woodlands with my second generation oar and its a treat. Can do 1.5 - 2.0 mph per GPS without any trouble. May be able to quicken things a bit with practice but it works well now. For me it seems to work best in a two handed mode, one hand on the oar over the skullmatix and the other hand on the extension shaft. The two handed mode makes it easy to maintain proper incidence....and now that I think about it, would make reverse easy.
Sculling one handed almost always ends up with the oar going wildly out of proper angle of attack after only a few strokes. May be an inherent problem with 12'-14' slightly limber oars. Second generation oar blade was carved out of a cedar plank and replaced one of the split tail oar blades.