Letter: A river cannot match the pull of the ocean

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lord Broadbridge (letter, 16 June) may have aired the preferences of river oarsmen to be called oarsmen and not 'rowers', but the trireme is a seagoing ship in which a person, properly speaking, pulls an oar and does not row it. To row at sea one needs two oars, one in each hand, a process called 'sculling' on rivers, whereas sculling on salt water is the use of one oar, but over the transom of the boat to propel it by moving the oar from side to side. There could scarcely be more disparity between riverine and marine terms.

As the use of oars at sea has shrunk to casual ferrying about in harbours, riverine terms more rooted in sport rowing are taking over. In the Trireme Project we have had, with regret, to abandon the term 'pull' and use 'row' instead, but prefer the collective 'oarcrew' for our stalwart volunteers of both sexes.

Yours faithfully

J. F. COATES

Architect of the trireme Olympias

Bath, Avon

17 June

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