To muffle the oars

to put something round that part which rests in the rowlock, to prevent noise in rowing.

See also: Oar

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
References in periodicals archive ?
For instance, legend has it that a girlfriend of the one of the participants offered her petticoat to muffle the oars on a boat trip across the Charles River.