Early morning mist on the Hudson.
Eight foot Shaw and Tenney spoon oar with D shaped shaft under leathers, Concept2 oarlocks jacked up as high as they will go on pins made by Bob at Springfield Fan Centerboard Company, dacron cord instead of a button, traditional guide boat oarstraps.
I would like to raise the oars even higher. A weakpoint of the guide boat design is that your oar handles can get tangled with your knees on the backstroke. In rough water this can cause you to catch a clam. So I'm thinking of getting another pair of oarpins which would be .75 inches taller so I can row dory style.
I also have traditional pinned oars (non rotating) shaped to the Grant design. They work great, are very quiet and trouble-free except for the grease getting on everything. Are they as fast? I don't think so.
When you feather an oar the backstroke is completely effortless, so the backstroke is deeper. The oars just slip back further because there is no resistance, and you get a longer stroke. You have a longer stroke and a decrease in frontal area against the wind because the oars are turned sideways on the backstroke. You have to do the feathering properly though, with pinned oars all you do is pull, it's easier. In the end you're limited by the hullspeed of the pudgy little boat, but feathering the oars should be a bit faster than pinned oars especially in a headwind.
Here's what I do about not being able to see where I'm going. These are cycling glasses really. At the bike store get a "third eye" mirror and just use the first joint. I fastened it to the temple piece by wrapping it on with thread. It's so close to your eye that you can really see a lot. Might not work with bifocals.