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Thread: Skin on frame rowing boats

  1. #1
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    Default Skin on frame rowing boats

    I'm contiplating building a skin on frame boat for rowing in river and bay which is really close to a house we just moved into.
    It's only a couple of hundred meters to the boat ramp so the lightness really appeals to me. Just being able to walk down the road and go for a row would be amazing (I am a novice rower).
    I quite like the look of Dave Gentry's "Ruth" and "Shenandorah whitehall"

    Firstly what's the difference between a "Whitehall" and "Wherry"?
    Is it a size thing or different uses for the boats. I have noticed that the Ruth is a longer and skinnier boat than the Shenandorah.

    Are there any other plans to look out for as well?

    People how have rowed any of the above or similar boat have any comments and or reccomendations?

    I would also love to use it as a tender for my H28 as well if that doesn't compromise the design too much.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Ruth would not work as a tender. It is basically a rowing shell.
    -Jim

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Both the Wherry and the Whitehall are traditional working boats, originally used for carrying passengers in England and the US, respectively. These days the terms are used somewhat haphazardly, with a "wherry" being any long, narrow pulling boat designed for relatively open water (as opposed to a shell which is a strictly flat water boat, except for all of the exceptions, which more knowledgeable forum members than I will no doubt point out), and "whitehall" used to describe pretty much any skiff or wherry with a plumb stem and a wineglass transom.

    I've never rowed a skin-on-frame wherry but I have quite a bit of experience sculling wherries and shells of various types from racing singles on up, and I think a narrow skin-on-frame boat like Ruth would be very difficult to row for a novice. The Shenandoah Whitehall would make a better tender and be a better boat for learning in. But it's still going to be very light and I'd guess it would "feel" less stable than something heavier, so it might take some time to get comfortable.

    I also think a 13'6" boat might be a bit large to serve as a tender for an H28? Personally I'd build the Whitehall to row and something else for a tender.
    - Chris

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Talk to Dave Gentry.

    He always answered my less than knowledgeable questions.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Whitehalls would tend to be wider, more stable and slower than a wherry. Having said that, a whitehall is no slug, and a wherry is not a racing shell. I have a preference for Adirondack guideboats which might fall somewhere in between. Guideboats have done very well over the years in the Blackburn challenge in the single oar on gunnel class. There is always a trade off between weight, portability, stability and speed.

    http://capefalconkayak.com/adirondackguideboat2.0.html

    The boat weighs 47 lbs

    EDIT:
    I think the the extreme light weight of a SOF boat would make it too tender to use as a tender. A wide flat transom stern might allow you to board over the center of the stern.
    Last edited by MN Dave; 06-19-2019 at 11:55 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    You could build one of Dave Gentry rowing like the Ruth if its just for excercise, and one of his prams as a tender for the H28, if you have the deck space. We did stow an 8ft dinghy on the house under the boom on a similar boat. I have built 2 of Daves designs, they work, simple and cost effective, i did look at others but came back to simple and effective.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Check out the Pacific Loon from Hermit Cove Boats if you have access to a cnc machine. I built their Little Owl dinghy last year, and was impressed that cnc files for cutting the frames were included in the plans.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by James Chilman View Post
    I'm contiplating building a skin on frame boat for rowing in river and bay which is really close to a house we just moved into.
    It's only a couple of hundred meters to the boat ramp so the lightness really appeals to me. Just being able to walk down the road and go for a row would be amazing (I am a novice rower).
    I quite like the look of Dave Gentry's "Ruth" and "Shenandorah whitehall"

    Firstly what's the difference between a "Whitehall" and "Wherry"?
    Is it a size thing or different uses for the boats. I have noticed that the Ruth is a longer and skinnier boat than the Shenandorah.

    Are there any other plans to look out for as well?

    People how have rowed any of the above or similar boat have any comments and or reccomendations?

    I would also love to use it as a tender for my H28 as well if that doesn't compromise the design too much.
    Hi James

    Both Ruth and the Shenandoah Whitehall would be suitable for you and your usage. You might also take a look at the late Platt Monfort's boats - http://GAboats.com His boats are lighter than mine, but more delicate and more difficult to build. They look pretty good, though.
    Brian at Cape Falcon, which has been mentioned, has been working on some other boats that can be rowed, as well, and they also look pretty good.

    Ruth is more performance oriented, and primarily a solo boat with the capacity to take along passenger (and a dog and a small child) - though with degraded performance. Ruth fits the gap between traditional rowboats, and racing sculls . . . faster than the former, slower but much more stable and seaworthy than the latter.

    The Shenandoah Whitehall is more stable, more capacious and much better in waves. She still rows quite easily.

    If you also wanted the boat as a tender for your H28, I'd opt for a rowing-only version of my Annabelle Skiff. She is lighter and easier to build than the sailing version, rows well, and is more stable than the other two.

    But I concur with the suggestions to build a boat for each purpose. SOF is so inexpensive in time and money, comparatively, that building two or more boats is not much of an issue.

    Feel free to email me (GentryCustomBoats@yahoo.com) if you have any more questions.

    Dave

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by DGentry View Post
    Hi James

    Both Ruth and the Shenandoah Whitehall would be suitable for you and your usage. You might also take a look at the late Platt Monfort's boats - http://GAboats.com His boats are lighter than mine, but more delicate and more difficult to build. They look pretty good, though.
    Brian at Cape Falcon, which has been mentioned, has been working on some other boats that can be rowed, as well, and they also look pretty good.

    Ruth is more performance oriented, and primarily a solo boat with the capacity to take along passenger (and a dog and a small child) - though with degraded performance. Ruth fits the gap between traditional rowboats, and racing sculls . . . faster than the former, slower but much more stable and seaworthy than the latter.

    The Shenandoah Whitehall is more stable, more capacious and much better in waves. She still rows quite easily.

    If you also wanted the boat as a tender for your H28, I'd opt for a rowing-only version of my Annabelle Skiff. She is lighter and easier to build than the sailing version, rows well, and is more stable than the other two.

    But I concur with the suggestions to build a boat for each purpose. SOF is so inexpensive in time and money, comparatively, that building two or more boats is not much of an issue.

    Feel free to email me (GentryCustomBoats@yahoo.com) if you have any more questions.

    Dave
    Thanks Dave and everyone much appreciated.
    I've got a bit more to ponder now.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    I built Platt Monforts 12 ft boat. Nice lines, rows and tows well. Huge weakness (applies to all skin boats!) Is the fragility of the skin when forced to contact any bottom other than soft mud. Eventually i just built a wood skin below the waterline, in sheer safety consideration.

    Tony.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonyr View Post
    I built Platt Monforts 12 ft boat. Nice lines, rows and tows well. Huge weakness (applies to all skin boats!) Is the fragility of the skin when forced to contact any bottom other than soft mud. Eventually i just built a wood skin below the waterline, in sheer safety consideration.

    Tony.
    Thanks, Tony, I was wondering about that aspect. I am right at the point of choosing the sheathing for a new rowboat.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Huge weakness (applies to all skin boats!) Is the fragility of the skin when forced to contact any bottom other than soft mud.
    Quote Originally Posted by W Grabow View Post
    Thanks, Tony, I was wondering about that aspect.
    Tony's statement is only accurate if the "(applies to all skin boats!)" portion is removed. Platt Monfort advocated a very light weight (3oz or so) polyester for the skins of his boats. And that is a very delicate fabric indeed, and his boats are notorious for easily acquiring holes.

    I don't know of any other skinboat specialist that uses fabric that light . . . the minimum I call for is 8oz polyester, and that is far and away tougher than 3oz. Practically speaking, in normal use, only heedlessly smashing into an oyster bed is likely to cause problems.
    Check it out:


    There are plenty of other videos out there showing the same sort of thing.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Thanks for the clarification. I should study the fabric sheathing technique more closely for use on small boats. I noticed your comment "SOF is so inexpensive in time and money", and I believe you. Today I was out looking at plywood sheathing options for my current project (in Colorado, a boat building desert). My local choices are 1/8" or 1/4" ply; one too thin and the other too thick. I am also considering a plywood bottom with lapstrake topsides. I'd like to minimize the use of epoxy. Fabric would definitely be a viable option, but I need to learn more.

    developable-surface-boat-designs.blogspot.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Dave, That is a very fair comment, and I should not have generalized from my experience with the Monfort specifications. I really did not know that his fabric was so different from that used in your boats.

    A chastened Tony.

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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Having used several skin-on-frame kayaks, I am not at all concerned with any "fragility" of the skin. They are much tougher than you might think if you use heavy enough fabric, as Dave Gentry points out.

    Tom
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    With respect to Dave Gentry's Shenandoah Whitehall is there a ply lapstrake option? It's a lovely looking boat but how does one load up a SOF without affecting it's lines?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Hi TeeBee, welcome aboard.
    I think you can adopt many designs to ply lapstrake using the plans and a book on that building method. But if I wanted a lap-ply Whitehall, I would look for one designed that way.
    I don't understand your question about loading. The volume inside the skin is displacement, a lighter boat should be able to hold more cargo than a boat with a heavier hull as long as it's structure isn't over stressed.
    Keep us posted.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by johngsandusky View Post
    I don't understand your question about loading.
    For example without an inner hard skin how does one load up a SOF? Or step on it on a shore?

    I guess once one has a table of offsets, then any construction method is possible. Though it would be better if Gentry boats has already done a non SOF.

    Heresy here I realise!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Look at the pictures


    There are floorboards AKA sole

    And you only ever step into the boat once it is floating.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Now I understand. As PI says, don't try to step into or out of it while beached, at least I don't with my very light boats (A Folbot kayak and a glued lap ultralight canoe) I either push them off the beach into knee deep water and hop in, or climb in from a dock. For loading it up I would pack any gear into bags or crates that can rest on the floorboards or the frames. If I used it to cruise I would widen the floorboards.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by teebee View Post
    For example without an inner hard skin how does one load up a SOF? Or step on it on a shore?
    Floorboards, as discussed. Note that even if one stow gear or steps on an area without floorboards, deflection will be minimal.

    [/QUOTE]I guess once one has a table of offsets, then any construction method is possible. Though it would be better if Gentry boats has already done a non SOF.

    Heresy here I realise![/QUOTE]
    At least one of my Ruth designs (that I know of) has been built in cedar strip:
    Rick Crook's strip Ruth2.jpg

    And, yes, a table of offsets is useful. Both the Shenandoah Whitehall, and this "Livery" Whitehall - built by Chris Cunningham - are from the same set of offsets. Mine was modified, obviously. An even easier (not easier to build than SOF) mod would be to build her in glued lap.
    Chris Cunningham's 1.jpg

    P.I. Stazzer-Newt - thanks for bringing out that picture of my old IGO . . . I forgot how spectacular that redwood looked.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Zodiac raid craft are basically inflated skin boats, albeit with heavy skin. It would surprise you how tough they are.

    Dave, I was looking at that IGO design of yours quite closely, but a 17’ sea kayak design won out. You build some beautiful boats, I must say.
    Last edited by Recon1342; 09-09-2019 at 01:54 PM. Reason: I cannot brain today...
    “You can have peace. Or, you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.” RA Heinlein

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Dave do you happen to know the weight of that cedarstripped Ruth? (or just some sense of how much heavier than the SOF)
    "Visionary" is he who in every egg sees a carbonara.

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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    I too am wondering what the weight premium would be for a gentry shenandoah glued lapstrake over SOF. The former could probably make do without frames and just retention of the stringers. It was the car topability that attracted me as well as the fantastic lines.

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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by teebee View Post
    I too am wondering what the weight premium would be for a gentry shenandoah glued lapstrake over SOF. The former could probably make do without frames and just retention of the stringers. It was the car topability that attracted me as well as the fantastic lines.
    You will still need some frames to keep the stringers braced. The only upside with ply is being able to use some fore n aft bulkhead/frames as bouyancy chambers, so thet serve a double purpose. I have the plans for a Paul Fisher Thames 12, that can be built in strip, glued lap, or stitch and glue. I would go for glued lap for lightness and look.


    around 60lb.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats



    Thats delightfull.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by Figment View Post
    Dave do you happen to know the weight of that cedarstripped Ruth? (or just some sense of how much heavier than the SOF)
    The cedar strip version comes in at 60lbs when the rig and sliding seat are out for transport. I can easily put it on the roof of my van by myself.
    rgds

    Rick
    oysterbayboats.ca

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by skaraborgcraft View Post
    You will still need some frames to keep the stringers braced.
    Skaraborg I meant glue the glued lapstrake on the stringers while braced by the frames and then remove those frames. This would leave a clean interior and shell stiffened by gunwales, discretion as to further stiffening with fore and aft decks and or fixed thwarts.

    Does that sound feasible? To my eye I prefer the Shenandoah to the similar Livery Dave potted above..

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by teebee View Post
    Skaraborg I meant glue the glued lapstrake on the stringers while braced by the frames and then remove those frames. This would leave a clean interior and shell stiffened by gunwales, discretion as to further stiffening with fore and aft decks and or fixed thwarts.

    Does that sound feasible? To my eye I prefer the Shenandoah to the similar Livery Dave potted above..
    Yes and no. Much would depend on the ply skin and stringer thickness as to how far apart any frames would need to be, and taking any local support like thwarts into account. You could reduce the size of the standard stringers as a glued lap joint acts as a stringer itself. Many boats built without stringers, but many first time builders like to have stringers as a guide for cutting planks and usefull to fasten in to. Compare designs from Iain Oughtred vs Arch Davis for difference in approach, both work.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by skaraborgcraft View Post
    Yes and no. Much would depend on the ply skin and stringer thickness as to how far apart any frames would need to be, and taking any local support like thwarts into account. You could reduce the size of the standard stringers as a glued lap joint acts as a stringer itself.
    Thanks skaraborg. I have assumed that strakes could be laid over the no of Shanandoah frames, but am interested to understand under what circumstances the final boat can be without frames. Like Ruth and other strip built shells, I'm led to believe glued lapstrake is also very stiff without internal framing. Some of the Thames 12's online have no more than fixed end thwarts, a movable centre thwart and no decks.

    Cheers Trevor

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    I'll guess that going with developed plans is the only way to "know" that a particular design can be built without frames. If you modify those plans then you're on your own, and may need to either retrofit frames or install cross-members when rowing -- the latter solution is what I saw last weekend at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in a custom 19' pulling boat. (sorry, no pics)

    A design may function temporarily without frames but the flexing may be just irritating or actively destructive over time -- hard to say.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
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  32. #32
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by teebee View Post
    Thanks skaraborg. I have assumed that strakes could be laid over the no of Shanandoah frames, but am interested to understand under what circumstances the final boat can be without frames. Like Ruth and other strip built shells, I'm led to believe glued lapstrake is also very stiff without internal framing. Some of the Thames 12's online have no more than fixed end thwarts, a movable centre thwart and no decks.

    Cheers Trevor
    Strip built version most likely has thicker planking than if made from plywood, and also likely to be glass sheathed inside and out, (though not always) which makes for a stiff monocoque type hull. Glued lap is stiff, but as you point out, it does still need some form of cross bracing, how little might depend on how gentle you might want to be with it.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Can we assume that that is nylon and not polyester skin?

    Quote Originally Posted by DGentry View Post
    Tony's statement is only accurate if the "(applies to all skin boats!)" portion is removed. Platt Monfort advocated a very light weight (3oz or so) polyester for the skins of his boats. And that is a very delicate fabric indeed, and his boats are notorious for easily acquiring holes.

    I don't know of any other skinboat specialist that uses fabric that light . . . the minimum I call for is 8oz polyester, and that is far and away tougher than 3oz. Practically speaking, in normal use, only heedlessly smashing into an oyster bed is likely to cause problems.
    Check it out:


    There are plenty of other videos out there showing the same sort of thing.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Mercer View Post
    Can we assume that that is nylon and not polyester skin?
    No. At 8 seconds the subtitle says "Painted 8oz polyester skin"

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Skin on frame rowing boats

    You can easily create your own test. Polyester is very tough.

    However, a razor sharp knife will cut thru like butter after it is painted.
    A duller knife will be pretty difficult to penetrate.

    Not many razor knifes in my lakes and rivers.

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