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Thread: Cruising Rowboat

  1. #1
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    Default Cruising Rowboat

    On one hand we have delicious to row boats like light dories, guideboats and whitehalls. On the other we have ponderous looking ocean rowboats that plod across the atlantic like buses. Is there space between these two extremes for a cruising rowboat?

    I would like a solo boat, not fitted out for sailing (though maybe a small mizzen could help steering), something like this:

    15-17' (bigger won't fit in front of my house)
    Satisfying to row, though not necessarily blazing fast.
    A cuddy with 36" of headroom where I can slump out of the wind and rest for a while - no need for a totally enclosed cabin.
    No faffing about with rudders and other in-water appendages.
    Capable in rough conditions, easily rightable/re-boardable after capsize.
    Can sleep aboard under a decent boat tent.

    My first thoughts are something like a swampscott dory with a raised foredeck and a small mizzen to balance out the windage. I have a hope that this raised deck if kept clean enough would not cause too much drag when rowing directly upwind, indeed, it might even act as a fairing for the oarsman.

    Does this sound possible?

    * I don't want to cross oceans, take out 6 people +dog or put it on the roof of my car.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarkey View Post

    * I don't want to cross oceans, take out 6 people +dog or put it on the roof of my car.
    Are you sure? (grin)

    No hard cuddy - even the heavy trans-Atlantic boats rarely have 'em. Welsford's beach cruiser "Walkabout" should be perfect with the planned tent. Just build it without the foils or spars - if you must.

    http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans...bout/index.htm
    Last edited by Thorne; 10-23-2010 at 06:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    You're on the right track thinking about a Swampscott. A glued-lap gunning dory built light would fit the bill. Several Oughtred designs would also meet your requirements.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    The late Phil Bolger designed a couple of cruising rowboats. A nice one appears in his book Small Boats. It should fit the bill.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Doh! It was the hard cuddy that I really wanted! All the ocean rowboats seem to have enormous cabins - I only want a little bit of shelter from changeable UK conditions.

    Walkabout is one of the boats I have been sketching raised decks on - I think with an extra strake forward and a heavily crowned foredeck I could get the minimal headroom I need. I was also thinking that an inclined full-height bulkhead to recline against would close off a big buoyancy chamber in the bows good for light stowage and reducing inverted stability. Other candidates so far for the same treatment have been the CLC Northeaster and the Oughtred Skerrieskiff 17 - this last one looks the best so far to my eye. I reckon that with my weight low under the foredeck and a small mizzen trimmed in tight the boat would sit happily in most conditions while I grab something to eat or drink. A double ender would probably be best for this mode as the boat drifts backwards.

    ETA:

    I am only familiar with the Bolger cruising rowboat in 'Boats with an Open Mind' - I will have to search out the other one, any idea of the design number?

    A gunning dory would be a very good call I think, I will pore over some more drawings......
    Last edited by Clarkey; 10-23-2010 at 07:22 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Several of these have been built as pure rowing boats stretched 10%, they work well and it would take very little to put a cuddy on forward of the rowing station. Mind the windage though, you'll need to alter the skeg so it wont tend to have the bow blown around when you are rowing into the wind. Yes I can help with that.

    John Welsford

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorne View Post
    Are you sure? (grin)

    No hard cuddy - even the heavy trans-Atlantic boats rarely have 'em. Welsford's beach cruiser "Walkabout" should be perfect with the planned tent. Just build it without the foils or spars - if you must.

    http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans...bout/index.htm
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    The Bolger row boat is on pg.25 of his book Small Boats, International Marine,1973. "Proposed rowing cruiser for John Zeidler." No plan number is given. A reasonably able boatbuilder could build it from the plan shown in the book. I think she'd be a fine vessel for the purpose.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Tell us more about your rowing experience, and where you plan to cruise this boat. If you don't carry an outboard and won't sail, you MUST rely on oar power to get you out of whatever situations Nature and Neptune can dish out -- and they are an inventive duo!

    All it take is a wind shift and storm cell to turn a protected anchorage into a lee shore -- and you won't always be able to pull the boat up out of the water onshore. The more windage you have the harder it will be to row not only into the wind and waves, but across the wind.

    If you put enough windage on the boat (low cabins, raising sheerstrake, spars, etc) you may need to put a leeboard or CB in the boat to give you the ability to row across the wind and waves. Even rowing a comparatively heavy 350lb 14' boat with low freeboard and no mast mounted, I've had to lower the CB a bit to keep control when rowing downwind in a steep swell.

    Rick Thompson's Walkabout set up for rowing only -
    Last edited by Thorne; 10-23-2010 at 09:49 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Second Thorne's comments. I enjoy rowing the HV 16 and frequently adjust its tracking characteristics with the centerboard, particularly crosswind. And when I don't need the board, it is in the trunk and the boat feels more lively, quick and responsive with less wetted surface. There is an entire school of kayak design that utilizes adjustable skegs. Be cautious in adding windage to an existing design. A cruising rowboat, I like it. Different kind of boats, but check out Rowing to Latitudes by Jill Fredston for inspiration.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorne View Post
    Tell us more about your rowing experience, and where you plan to cruise this boat. If you don't carry an outboard and won't sail, you MUST rely on oar power to get you out of whatever situations Nature and Neptune can dish out -- and they are an inventive duo!

    All it take is a wind shift and storm cell to turn a protected anchorage into a lee shore -- and you won't always be able to pull the boat up out of the water onshore. The more windage you have the harder it will be to row not only into the wind and waves, but across the wind.

    If you put enough windage on the boat (low cabins, raising sheerstrake, spars, etc) you may need to put a leeboard or CB in the boat to give you the ability to row across the wind and waves. Even rowing a comparatively heavy 350lb 14' boat with low freeboard and no mast mounted, I've had to lower the CB a bit to keep control when rowing downwind in a steep swell.
    I am a dogged and moderately powerful rower - my best effort was a day spent rowing 27 miles up the river Thames in a traditional Thames skiff and I have done a few 20 mile days in the Venitian lagoon in traditional boats. The use I envisage for this rowing cruiser is on rivers, in sheltered harbours (like Chichester Harbour in the UK) and the odd rigorously planned coastal hop with diversion ports and a good weather window.

    I don't want to carry an outboard (although maybe a Torqeedo electric would find a space on board sometimes) and I think in a small, light, mostly open boat sails are not going to provide much easier progress than oars when conditions turn nasty. I would carry a parachute sea anchor as a last resort. In years of sailing and rowing in the UK I have come to appreciate that even the smallest amount of snug shelter can be very welcome in our changeable conditions and I would be prepared to pay a penalty in windage for it.

    I understand that daggerboards and rudders can be used to trim the boat for rowing but my (probably flawed) reasoning goes like this: The aim of these devices is to keep the boat in a steady orientation relative to the wind - therefore it may be better to use an 'air rudder' to ensure this. A super flat, maybe even rigid mizzen of minimum area might well cause less drag than water foils. I will have to experiment but my experience of rowing similar boats with and without boards/rudders is that these appendages cause considerable drag themselves.

    Rick's Walkabout is truly lovely and a beautifully built example. I think I would be tempted to leave it as standard length though, over the course of a day I would rather have the lower wetted surface than the higher potential speed afforded by the long waterline. I would passage plan for a 3 knot average speed, which seems realistic in moderate conditions.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    The Gartside Flashboat looks interesting:






    There are details on the building method here. There are a number of other interesting rowboat options by the same designer in this page.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    I row a comparatively light fast boat like Thorne's, I've read books by the people that row the atlantic. One of the things that struck me about the ocean crossing boats is they have so much windage that rowing against the weather is impossible. The lighter faster boats can make several knots in conditions that the ocean crossers cannot move in at all.

    I understand they are different boats for different purposes, but I found the trade off interesting.

    I'm afraid if you build a cuddy cabin you will end up moving a long way in the direction of the ocean crossers. Moving too far could even be dangerous if the windage overpowered your rowing.

    One possible compromise I've seen on some of Bolgers boats is a raisable cabin top. You might be able to build it in at deck level but pop it up when you want headroom in a safe anchorage.

    It's an interesting design problem.
    Yachting, the only sport where you get to be a mechanic, electrician, plumber and carpenter

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Gartside's design #92, the 20' pedal boat, really got me thinking. Lots of possibilities there.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    There is a small fleet of cross atlantic rowboats in Antigua. Indeed, it seems to be a one way ,one time, down wind, down current trip. Large cuddys on both ends.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    It is the huge gulf between the ocean rowboats and recreational open water dories/peapods/handliners/whitehalls etc. that makes me believe there must be room for something in the middle, perhaps tending strongly towards the lighter end of the scale. There seems to be a belief in canoeing circles that spray covers significantly reduce windage compared to a completely open boat - I think that a very low cabin may not be too bad in terms of overall drag. I am only considering something that comes up to shoulder height on an oarsman seated on a thwart 8-10" off the floor. A pop-top might well be a viable solution but I imagine that such a structure would add more weight than a simple raised deck?

    It is interesting that recent ocean rowboats seem to be reducing in size - 'JJ Insure and Go' is only is only 18' and has some fascinating features, good looks not being one of them however.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Hunter View Post
    I row a comparatively light fast boat like Thorne's, I've read books by the people that row the atlantic. One of the things that struck me about the ocean crossing boats is they have so much windage that rowing against the weather is impossible. The lighter faster boats can make several knots in conditions that the ocean crossers cannot move in at all.

    I understand they are different boats for different purposes, but I found the trade off interesting.

    I'm afraid if you build a cuddy cabin you will end up moving a long way in the direction of the ocean crossers. Moving too far could even be dangerous if the windage overpowered your rowing.

    One possible compromise I've seen on some of Bolgers boats is a raisable cabin top. You might be able to build it in at deck level but pop it up when you want headroom in a safe anchorage.

    It's an interesting design problem.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Thanks, Songololo, for the link to Paul Gartside's site--a new discovery for me and some beautiful boats. Clarkey, I know you don't want any "appendages" in the water, but you could do a lot worse Gartside's 16 ft Open Water Cruising Skiff "Bob", Design #115 or the lighter 15 ft Light Rowing Skiff, Design #94. Either boat could be completed without the rudder and yoke lines (though you might need a small skeg) and you'd have the option of adding the sailing rig later. The boomless lugsail with its short mast is perfect for a boat that will sail only with the wind to its back.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    I'm not sure if the accomodations on these will be too spartan for you, but check out these boats:

    http://www.angusrowboats.com/boats.html

    They're designed to hold a full-size bicycle and trailer in the stowage compartment--the designers (a husband/wife team) have used these boats (with bikes and trailers) to travel completely human-powered in a combined land-and-sea journey from Scotland to Syria. The boats raft together to support a tent platform between them, but if you're alone I imagine you'd have to sleep ashore.

    Tom

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by Clarkey View Post

    I don't want to carry an outboard (although maybe a Torqeedo electric would find a space on board sometimes) and I think in a small, light, mostly open boat sails are not going to provide much easier progress than oars when conditions turn nasty. I would carry a parachute sea anchor as a last resort.
    OK, here is where we disagree. If you rigged the boat for sail, you have the ability to claw your way off a lee shore under sail as long as the wind is blowing and you've got enough depth for the centerboard and rudder. The boat will often be much more stable under sail than under oar, as for the former it has the force of the wind (sails) and counterbalancing force of the lateral resistance (hull, CB & rudder) to pin it in place as it moves rapidly along.

    And you keep mentioning a spar in the posts - some sort of mizzen. But these are normally used with a forward spar and sail to balance the rig and allow the boat to point into the wind for mainsail reductions/reefing/changes. I don't think that a mizzen alone would do a cruising rowboat much good. In comparison look at the stabilizing sails used on some powerboats - they are usually mounted in the middle of the boat.

    A mizzen sail up while rowing would create massive weather helm, which you'd constantly have to correct while rowing. Even just the spar mounted will slow you significantly -- I've done a fair bit of rowing with the mast up on my dory skiff and it ain't fun! (mast too large to fit in the boat)

    If you are going to mount spars then by all means do so -- mount both mainsail and mizzen! Then you can sail or row when you please, plus have uprights for a boom-tent if desired.

    I've lived in the UK but never rowed the coastline -- but what I've seen often looked distinctly unfriendly. Don't think that a parachute anchor would really help the average pulling boat, as you normally aren't offshore far enough to benefit from the slowing effect before hitting rocks -- and you also need to be able to handle the waves breaking over the boat as the sea anchor slows the boat below wave-crest speeds.

    Again I'll give my advice for a partially-decked sail and oar boat rigged with a small tent of some sort. A popup canvas cuddy could be also rigged, but you'd have to get back out in the rain to row the boat, and I don't think that you'd ever really be able to drift for hours or overnight on a sea anchor without risking hitting the shore or being run down by a powerboat or freighter.

    The UK has a long and quite wonderful history of boatbuilding, so why not benefit from that? People have been rowing and sailing the shores there for many years, and recording it since the early 17th C. I'd look for a local design and see how that suited my needs first -- those old watermen weren't fools, y'know...

    http://www.coastalrowing.co.uk/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coastal...ffshore_rowing

    An aside - the famous London waterman and poet John Taylor rowed his boats around parts of England's coastline. Here he is complaining about being hassled by the authorities for coming ashore in 1623 -

    The night before a Constable there came,
    Who asked my trade, my dwelling, and my name,
    My businesse, and a troupe of questions more,
    And wherefore we did land vpon that shore?
    To whom I fram'd my answers true and fit,
    (According to his plenteous want of wit)
    But were my words all true or if I ly'd
    With neither I could get him satisfi'd.
    He ask'd if we were Pyrats? We said No,
    (As if we had we would haue told him so)
    He said that Lords sometimes would enterprise
    T' escape and leaue the Kingdome in disguise:
    But I assur'd him on my honest word
    That I was no disguisèd Knight or Lord.
    He told me then that I must goe sixe miles
    T' a Justice there, Sir John or else Sir Giles:
    I told him I was lothe to goe so farre,
    And he told me he would my journey barre.
    Thus what with Fleas and with the seuerall prates
    Of th' officer, and his Ass-sociats
    We arose to goe, but Fortune bade us stay:
    The Constable had stolne our oares away,
    And borne them thence a quarter of a mile
    Quite through a Lane beyond a gate and stile;
    And hid them there to hinder my depart,
    For which I wish'd him hang'd with all my heart.
    A plowman (for us) found our Oares againe,
    Within a field well fil'd with Barley Graine.
    Then madly, gladly, out to sea we thrust,
    'Gainst windes and stormes, and many a churlish Gust,
    By Kingston Chappelle and by Rushington,
    By Little-Hampton and by Middleton.
    Last edited by Thorne; 10-24-2010 at 03:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    The idea of the mizzen is to provide balance to the windage of the cuddy mounted forward. In fact maybe I should stop referring to it as a mizzen, I am thinking it would function more as a 'vane' or 'air rudder' holding the boat at a fixed angle to the wind. I do not see it being much bigger than 6-8 sqft. If it were a rigid foil the drag could be as low as 5% as that of a round spar the same thickness.

    I really want this to be a rowing boat - if I am honest I just don't enjoy sailing small boats that much, for me sail gets fun above about 30' with the power and passagemaking ability that brings. I appreciate that this view is totally at odds with most other people but there we go.

    The UK coast is pretty varied - it is true that there are unfriendly bits but there are also lots of places to be enjoyed in a boat of this limited capability. We have many indigenous types - I think Mr. Welsford takes inspiration from some of the Channel workboats, Paul Gartside has some types of Cornish origin (as has been mentioned) and of course there are the Oughtred interpretations of Shetland types. Paul Fisher has various types available like Medway Dobles and some intriguing Cobles with the more extreme features of that type toned down. All food for thought. Perhaps we suffer from too much choice!

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Best of luck with your decision. I suspect you'll find out firsthand the reason why traditional boats -- those propelled by sail and/or oar -- were all low-profile and low freeboard compared to modern designs. Remember that a traditional design built from modern materials like marine ply will sit a lot higher in the water than the original - making it safer overall but harder to propel under oar in windy conditions.

    Here's another marine ply Chamberlain Dory Skiff built near Mendocino, note how much higher she sits in the water than my solid wood CDS with the same number of crew aboard -




    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...llast-addition

    And I'm not sure that the solution to "too much windage forward" is to add "more windage aft" -- you might find that an adjustable skeg / centerboard / daggerboard / rudder would give you more control with less pain rowing-wise.
    Last edited by Thorne; 10-24-2010 at 05:04 PM.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    You are most likely absolutely right but it will be interesting to do a bit of experimenting..........

    Quote Originally Posted by Thorne View Post
    Best of luck with your decision. I suspect you'll find out firsthand the reason why traditional boats -- those propelled by sail and/or oar -- were all low-profile and low freeboard compared to modern designs. Remember that a traditional design built from modern materials like marine ply will sit a lot higher in the water than the original - making it safer overall but harder to propel under oar in windy conditions.
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...llast-addition

    And I'm not sure that the solution to "too much windage forward" is to add "more windage aft" -- you might find that an adjustable skeg / centerboard / daggerboard / rudder would give you more control with less pain rowing-wise.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    I'l second what Thorne says about masts, when you are rowing you can really feel the drag they generate.

    This is my boat, 18'6" over all:



    If you want to experiment with a wind vane, mizzen, or something else I suggest doing it with inexpensive materials at first, might as well learn on the cheap.

    I favor the pop up cabin on the assumption that you will never want to take shelter while at sea. The kind of boat under discussion will always be pretty close to shore, and you don't want to blow down on it while taking refuge from the storm. Better to have a boat that can deal with current, wind and wave, get some place safe and then go below.

    I think Bolger's Black Skimmer has a pop-up cabin, maybe someone will come along and comment on this (or correct me if I am wrong.)
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    One of the boat styles that you might want to consider is one with side decks or washboards and low coamings. Reason: you don't need thwarts, you row from a movable box. That means that you sleep lower in the boat and a very low cuddy or tent can be slept under. When I snooze in my deleware ducker, my head is well below deck height. Shelter is a simple stretched canvas deck with low hoops going into the rowlock sockets.

    Windage is crucial. It has to go away if you want a good day rowing in a breeze.
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Even if your not interested in sail, a little sprit or lug rig is awfully nice for downwind runs, use an oar to steer.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    carry a bumbershoot

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    My first thought, also, was Welsford's "Walkabout". Seems to fit your design brief.

    Also - I wonder if a hand troller from the Pacific NW would be appropriate to your needs. Courtesy of John Kohnen and The Mother Of All Maritime Links:

    http://www.westlakeboats.ca/plans/heritage.htm

    David G
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    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    JW also has a few rowing boats. The Huff Boat in particular seems to be a good candidate (can't seem to find it on his website).



    Details from a previous thread.

    The 15'6'' Joansa (a later version of the above design?) is also a Welsford design:






  28. #28
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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Brightsides is a very nice Handtroller in S+T also has a small sail.


    http://westlakeboats.ca/

    The Expedition boat is close to your needs.


    Colin Angus of Angus Rowboats has some nice designs. One builder is slightly modifying the hatch arrangement to sleep onboard. Colin has also described just the boat you described as something he may draw in the future. A solo sleep aboard cruising rowboat.

    His latest is a super fast design to have a go at the 24 hour human powered record. It only weighs 17kg so must be very low cost to build.

    http://angusrowboats.com/blog/2010/10/39/



    Brian

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    I should think you'd want to be able to lie down in the boat, which means easily removable thwarts or a box as Ben Fuller suggests. I'd want a double ender too, as a transome stern serves no purpose on a cruising rowboat. Again, the earlier Bolger rowing cruiser depicted in Small Boats seems tailor made for your goals, as it was designed with just such cruising in mind.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    If you are not looking to win any beauty contests you could knock out a Jim Michalak Sneakerbox in a couple of weekends and be out on the water using it instead of in here discussing the options. ;-) With the rectangular coaming it would be very easy to add a small dodger over the front cockpit or even a fold-up cover over the whole cockpit. Despite Jim's argument for a lateen rig and daggerboard, you could get away with a little spritsail and steering with an oar for downwind work when conditions are right.
    Last edited by cluttonfred; 10-25-2010 at 07:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    In the Jill Fredston book that Hvalsoe mentioned above, Jill Fredston took a two person Necky kayak, removed the center bulkhead, added coamings, and installed a sliding seat, plus outriggers for her oars. She ended up with a fast fast fast and very seaworthy rowing shell that had a bit of storage. Great book.

    In the book, she and her husband rowed the Inside Passage, northbound, then went back and finished the perimeter of Alaska, later rowed the entire length of the Yukon, up Canadian east coast, and then finally, around Svalbard (whoa). Her concept of a cruising rowboat worked well.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  32. #32
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    Sep 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    846

    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.

    I think I may be sending Mr. Welsford an order in the near future - probably for Walkabout but 'Rogue' might also fit the bill and be a bit lighter and more manageable. To be honest I still really want some rigid shelter but might be able to go lower than 36" headroom for just lounging - I notice that the new Welsford 'Scamp' has a tiny cuddy that is kind of what I had in mind, though I would prefer to recline along the centreline of the boat rather than athwartship. The other boat still in the hunt is the Oughtred Skerrieskiff 17 but the designer thinks it would be too tiddly for a rigid superstructure - I think a coble-style heavy fabric foredeck shelter might go quite nicely with this design though.

  33. #33
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Ballard
    Posts
    7,534

    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Can you post a photo of a "coble-style heavy fabric foredeck"? What does that look like?

    I have been thinking of sewing a removable foredeck for my peapod.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    846

    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    On a massively larger scale than I am thinking of but it gives you the general idea of a coble style shelter....


  35. #35
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    East Quogue,NY
    Posts
    13,760

    Default Re: Cruising Rowboat

    Here's similar on a Pulsifer Hampton 19' LOA x 6' Beam (approx)
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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