It's been a while, but I'm starting to get the itch again. Both to write, and to boat. Not necessarily in that order.
Once again, I paid my six bucks to the Forest Service for the "four rivers" lottery, and once again, I got shut out. That makes me 0-14. Fortunately, a friend, probably in his first or second try, pulled a Selway permit, and invited Sparky and me. I've never been on the Selway, so it should be an adventure.
A day or two ago, through a mutual friend, I was asked about oar length and boat size, and since my opinion on such things should be of great value to everyone, I'll reprint my answer here so as to enlighten the hoi polloi.
I don't think I know more about it than Chris, but in my opinion, the two most important variables to consider are the pivot width (frame width) and oar stand height (which includes tube diameter). In my opinion, if you really want to power your raft, you need to have close to a 2 to 1 ratio of oar outside the pivot to inside. This means the oars will feel relatively heavy when they're out of the water, but if too much of the oar is inside the pivot point, it will feel light, but you lose leverage, and won't be able to make the raft move well.But on the other hand, I am a rowing snob.
If you're concerned about how heavy they feel, you can get counterweights from Cataract that will make them feel really light. Given my preference and a frame that will handle them, I run 9-9.5' oars on my 14' boat, 10' oars on a 16' and 11' on an eighteen.
The big consideration I'd have with buying the ones from Colorado would be the shipping cost to Alaska: I don't know what it will cost, but I'd be willing to bet you wouldn't save much if any money over buying them new locally. Though I also have no idea what they cost locally.
If possible, you want your oar handles at nipple height when you're pulling back: ergonomically, that's the most efficient position. That means that when seated, and the oar handles are at arms length and nipple height, the blades of the oars are completely but just barely under water. This (coupled with the 2 to 1 rule), is how I determine what length oar I use on a given raft. Additionally, ideally, you want the handles to only have about an inch or two of space between them at their closest point. If you find that the handles hit you in the chest this way, you need to either move your seat back or your oar stands forward (either is easy with an NRS frame). If your oars have much more space between them than that, you again put your shoulders in an un-ergonomically efficient position, and you won't be able to push or pull as strongly.
When Chris' dad and I were on the Grand Canyon, one of the people who was driving a small cat had a really strange set-up where he had almost 18" of space between the oar handles, and had his oar towers as high as he could make them. So when he went to pull, his hands were really far apart and almost over his head. Needless to say, even though he didn't have a particularly heavy boat, he was having a hard time making pulls, and moving downstream. At one lunch about halfway down the river, I messed with his oars while he was on a hike: pivoting his oar towers out so they were lower and wider, and moved the handles closer together (by moving his sleeves down the oar). This got him in a much better position ergonomically, but now he had the pivot points of his oars too far out so he didn't get much leverage. I fixed that by stealing the oar extenders off CBsr's spare oars. After we started floating again, he was amazed at how much easier it was to row, and how much more powerful he felt. He wanted to make me a saint. The point being, this stuff does make a big difference, both for how you feel rowing, and for how well you can move your boat.