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Thread: Talk to me about row-cruising

  1. #1
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    Default Talk to me about row-cruising

    I've never rowed more than about 2 miles, but the idea of cruising protected water under oars strongly appeals. I'm about a year away from starting a build, and I'm torn between a stitch 'n glue,15-16 foot rowboat....likeFloMo's two sheet designs...and a plywood dinghy cruiser.

    Tell us about your experiences cruising in a dedicated row-only boat? What's good? What's bad? What are the challenges?

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    I've done a lot of cruising under oars, a week at at time, 125 miles or so, I try for 20 miles a day, tide assisted if at all possible, and have very strong views on oars, much prefer a fixed seat boat, have worked on the nutritional issues, the oar geometry, the relationship between the footrests, seat height and the width between the rowlocks and so on.
    There are pages of information, so,
    Ask me a question.

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    After building Leeward (18' Chamberlain gunning dory) I did a bit of beach camping along the Oregon coast. Weekend hops trailering to nice loop sites rarely more than ten miles a day. Loved sightseeing. Usually hauled Leeward up and camped ashore, especially if an ocean coast, but sometimes in the Columbia I'd sleep aboard if moored to a log raft in a slough. I'd made for climbing a variation on the WWII jungle hammock that worked slung from trees or cover held up by oars and foam pad over planks spanning the thwarts.

    But back East I lived on a boat and Leeward was more a tender except for one epic row in companion with another dory Hyannis to Madaket (Nantucket) to Cape Pogue (Chappaquiddick Island) and back.

    Once I made Leeward's sailing rig I found that I much preferred to let God provide the power.

    But to reinforce John's point - look up in WoodenBoat the article on the doryman's stroke. Fixed seat and open top oarlocks. And be happy with a walking pace. Leeward even heavily laden was an easy row at three knots for seven or eight hours, not counting a break for lunch.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    I have nothing to add to John and Ian’s responses. I’ve done plenty of distance rowing but no row cruising. I’d like to someday though. I’d likely choose a fixed seat boat as well but for those who prefer a sliding seat I think the Angus Rowcruiser is interesting:

    https://angusrowboats.com/pages/rowcruiser
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    The Angus is good for sheltered waters. If you're out in a sea or landing through surf, you must have open top rowlocks and be adept at one-handed repositioning, shipping, and unshipping. It helps that the wrist action in proper feathering allows you to use the oar outside the lock like a thole pin, or you could use thole pins if you want to really knock folks' sox off. I like rowlocks better because I don't need to shift the oars for reverse.

    It's well to have a rowlock on the transom or for a double ender starboard aft (if you're right handed) so you can scull up those narrow spaces that are too tight to get the oars out and then you can also stand to look over the marsh grasses to see where you are.

    The other problem with outriggers is that it's a pain to land at a dock or other boat.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Ugh. I hate replying to these type threads.

    I have a 14í flattie skiff Iíve camped in a few times in some short trips. I ainít use it all that much, so if youíd like to head over into the valley and pick her up for a trip, youíre welcome.

    Sheís set up with single tholes, and I have a few types of oars to use with her.

    Picking a boat is super personal no matter the type, so Iíll just leave it at the row camping Iíve done has been as fun as the canoe camping. Same type of vibe, for me.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    The short removable slide I made for my dory doesn't require a change in oars or locks; doesn't change your speed but it improves your endurance and is especially useful pulling into a head wind. Low windage is important for pleasant rowing.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Ugh. I hate replying to these type threads.

    I have a 14’ flattie skiff I’ve camped in a few times in some short trips. I ain’t use it all that much, so if you’d like to head over into the valley and pick her up for a trip, you’re welcome.

    She’s set up with single tholes, and I have a few types of oars to use with her.

    Picking a boat is super personal no matter the type, so I’ll just leave it at the row camping I’ve done has been as fun as the canoe camping. Same type of vibe, for me.
    Amish Rob, come next spring I just might take you up on that. That's a very generous offer, thank you!

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    OK....clearly I need to provide more information.

    where will it get used?

    --Sacramento River Delta, where it can get windy, but there are byways to tuck into sort of all over the place. There are also bridges, a very few of which are low enough to prevent any sailing craft from getting in without striking the mast.
    --Day-rows in the protected Alameda Estuary, where there's essentially no swell and the wind is usually light, but there can be very large powerboat wakes. ... --Redwood Creek, which is the closest bit of water to my house. There's a launch ramp. It can blow pretty fresh during the summer and parts of the slough are straight to windward. It can build up a pretty good 1-foot chop. Most of the deeper water is more-or-less across the wind.
    --I want to do the Puget Sound water trail, either by oar or in a cruising dinghy with oars. I have no time constrains on this, but I would guess that two weeks would be about right. I'm a little bit tempted to do the R2AK's "Prelude"..the 70/48, Tacoma to Port Townsend row, so I suppose that something that will be easy to maintain at speed would be good.

    Pace - 3 mph is fine with me. Up at 7:30, hit the water by 9:30, then 2 hours on, half- hour off....two hours on, half- hour off until 4:30 seems good. That's 6 hours of rowing, so I can figure on covering something like 16-20 miles. I have no reason at this point to feel the need for more. When I was younger and was backpacking, I wanted to ~cover miles~. Now I just want to enjoy my time and stop to watch anything interesting that I see. Of course, if I do the 70/48 I'll be rowing for more than that, in a day.

    Seat Type: all my rowing experience has been either in a 12 foot aluminum tank that was made for an outboard, with clunky Caviness Oars from West Marine, or in my CLC Skerry which I bought with a nice pair of wood oars. The Skerry was a dream to row after the aluminum thing. So this means that I've never rowed a sliding seat boat. I do, however, spend kind of a lot of time on a Concept II rower at the gym, as I've found that nothing is better for loosening up my lower back and glutes, than 5-8 minutes on the rowing machine.

    QUESTION...why do you prefer a fixed seat? Or why do you prefer a sliding seat?

    Boat Type: I like building "things" but this will be my first complete boat. I'm pretty sure that I'm interested in a hull that I can get out of 2 pieces of 8-foot plywood, which limits me to about 15.5 feet in length. It'll be stitch 'n glue for sure. The boat can be a little bit heavy-ish as I'll transport it on a trailer, not car-top it. I no longer have a truck, so don't have a way to get racks on my vehicle that are far-enough apart to support a long hull. As of right now, the boats I'm considering are Flo-Mo's two seat designs: the Faering, Big Guide, and ROMAX. I'm going to assume that most people on the forum are familiar with Flo-Mo's boats. I'm also interest in the Butler Projects Pacific Troller Dory. Many of you probably know this boat but here's a picture, just in case.

    DSCN0159.JPG

    a friend is putting Angus's sliding seat conversion into a 16 foot touring canoe, in order to do the 70/48...so I suppose that's an option. I'm not utterly sold on limiting myself to 15-16 feet, it just seems a handy pace to start. I love the CLC Expedition Wherry but the kit is much, much more $$ than I'm willing to spend. Also, I think the Expedition Wherry is not conducive to sleeping aboard.

    Sleeping, Cooking, etc. The truth is that I don't know enough to know if I want to sleep and cook on board. I'm used to camping/backpacking so going light and simple doesn't bother me at all. I guess it would be very handy to be able to sleep aboard. QUESTION: Why do you, or don't you sleep/cook aboard your row-cruiser? BTW, when I think of "sleep aboard". I think of tent-like structures. I'm pretty sure I'd be crazy claustrophobic inside the Angus Row-Cruiser. I'm a very "kinetic" sleeper...I roll over a LOT and thrash about something terrible.

    About me:

    --63 years old, will be 64 when I start this build
    --Many years of weight training, but only moderate cardio. I'm good for about 3-4 hours of truly hard work and then I "hit the wall" and I'm ~Done~. It was nice to be 30 years old and hike all day! However, I'm pretty darned strong for my age. I don't know if I can row at 30% capacity for 8-10 hours at a time. Never tried it!
    --300 pounds
    --long arms, long torso...relatively short tree trunks for legs.
    -- I have some compression issues in my lower spine, and between C7 and T1, that when aggravated result in pain in my upper back and numbness in one finger in my right hand. However, as noted above, spending time on the Concept rower is almost the single best thing I can do for the lower back compression
    Last edited by Alan H; 11-16-2020 at 12:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    Amish Rob, come next spring I just might take you up on that. That's a very generous offer, thank you!
    Of course! I also have the duck punt, which rows fairly well with short oars, but which Iím thinking of adding outriggers to...

    And, I have a fair number of plans for rowing boats, if youíd like to peruse and perhaps use one of them thatís unused.

    For the record, I have been contemplating exactly this boat for a while, now. Really. Iím interested to see where your search leads you.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Before you go any further go to the gym and see if your back and the rest of your joints can take it.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    Before you go any further go to the gym and see if your back and the rest of your joints can take it.
    Yes, I should try the rowing machine for, like....30-40 minutes at about half my usual pace instead of the 6-8 minutes that I usually do. Since a "session" in the gym right now is limited to 50 minutes, that's the longest I can row. I'm a little tight from lifting last week, maybe tomorrows session would be a good time to try this.
    Last edited by Alan H; 11-16-2020 at 01:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post
    Before you go any further go to the gym and see if your back and the rest of your joints can take it.
    This is worth doing. Spending 45 minutes on an erg is very different than spending several hours on one, or in a boat. Try spending at least a couple of hours rowing at a moderate pace. 1 km is just about .5 nm so a split time of 3:00 is pretty close to 5 knots and 3:30 is a bit more than 4 knots (in theory at least). Try doing that for a couple of hours and see how it feels.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    -- I have some compression issues in my lower spine, and between C7 and T1, that when aggravated result in pain in my upper back and numbness in one finger in my right hand. However, as noted above, spending time on the Concept rower is almost the single best thing I can do for the lower back compression
    I have similar problems, back issues that made lifting heavy objects and sitting for any length of time painful. I could no longer do the sea kayaking I liked, the fixed sitting position in a kayak just was not tolerable. A rowing machine was part of my therapy, that led to taking up slide seat rowing about 15 years ago and still going strong. John Welsford has lots of upper body strength like you, but I don't think he has the back issues so he prefers fixed seat. My legs are good due to cycling, that also helps for slide seat. If you are getting relief from the erg then slide seat is probably going to be what you want in the boat. My seat has a slide lock, so it works both fixed and slide. You are more than welcome to take it for a trial on Suisun Slough for a day to see what works. Really, just let me know when to drop it off.

    -Rick

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    There will be times when once committed to a crossing you will need to go for much longer than a couple of hours. Over a few hours time the wind and tides can change radically. Not saying don't go for it, not at all, but you will do well to be prepared which means knowing your limitations and it will be better that you know them ahead of time, like before it's too late.. A small gasoline driven or electric outboard as backup may be required That way you get to come home and continue posting.
    Last edited by Gib Etheridge; 11-16-2020 at 01:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    Yes, I should try the rowing machine for, like....30-40 minutes at about half my usual pace instead of the 6-8 minutes that I usually do.
    Hm. I think you can be more ambitious than that. 6-8 minutes is a warmup. 30-40 minutes is a sprint workout. 90-120 minutes is just starting to get into a distance rowing workout.
    - Chris

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Don't let these guys scare you too much . The Delta has a lot of places to stop and rest. You may need to hammer across an open stretch to get to a sheltered shore a few times, but mostly it is easy cruising in the wind shadow of a levee.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    And here I was expecting that Zbigit must be some place on the Baltic in eastern Europe. Looks like actually it's not even a place. Sometimes I assume too much. Still, it won't hurt to be prepared.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Zbigit is a joke, taken from the old cartoon, "B.C.".....

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    If you have the energy and time for long distance human-powered cruising and are interested in an alternative build, you may wish to consider Blue Skies, a pedal-powered boat that was designed and used for cruising the rivers and coastlines of America. Pedal power may be easier on your back. Paul Gartside, the designer may even be interested to redesign it for simpler construction than his original:

    https://store.gartsideboats.com/prod...kies-design-92

    https://www.duckworksmagazine.com/10.../dec/index.htm

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/doooo/...7604028178644/

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/archive/.../t-154800.html
    ďEventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs."

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    Don't let these guys scare you too much . The Delta has a lot of places to stop and rest. You may need to hammer across an open stretch to get to a sheltered shore a few times, but mostly it is easy cruising in the wind shadow of a levee.
    While I haven't spent that much time in the Delta, generally, I've spent time around Bethel Island. I'm not worried about oar cruising in the Delta, from a "can I get there? Will it be safe?" point of view. Ditto for rowing around Redwood Creek, which honestly will be 80% of my on-the-water-time. I'm not planning to launch off an Oregon coastal beach and row 30 miles up to the next river bar crossing! I've also recently watched some video about the Missouri Breaks and I have to say that looks like a REALLY cool paddling/camping trip.

    The only boat I've ever seen that's optimized for row cruising is your boat. Were I to build a row cruiser from one of Flo-Mo's hulls, or from the Butler dory, I would pretty surely include side tanks/seats like your Walkabout, and use a sliding seat system a lot like what you've designed.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    Hm. I think you can be more ambitious than that. 6-8 minutes is a warmup. 30-40 minutes is a sprint workout. 90-120 minutes is just starting to get into a distance rowing workout.
    Up until now, the rowing machine has been a way to get loose and warm up before and cool down, after lifting sessions. Honestly, I can't imagine spending an hour and a half on a rowing machine. I'd die of boredom!

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    I might also add that Richard Woods "Linnet" is also a contender, just that I don't like the looks of the triangular transom. Other than that, it seems like the right sort of thing. I don't think I want to go below 14 feet in length. Waterline is speed.

    For this boat, I'm pretty sure that stitch 'n glue is the way to go. Not sure I want to make a mess of molds and strip-plank. if I did, then the Cosine Wherry might be an option. I used to have the plans and the book, I gave it away a couple of years ago. I see that the Gartside pedal-boat is strip planked. Cool looking boat, though. Michael Storer has a very simple 15 1/2 foot rowing skiff, but I think I can build something a tich more sophisticated than a flat-bottom skiff, and I'd like to give that a go.

    I might also add that I'm somewhat interested in a boat with a transom, to make it a tich easier to mount a rudder. Why? Because I'm mighty curious about being able to drive a boat like what I'm talking about, with a Hydra training, water-launchable kite. This is part of why I like Ricks sliding seat rowing setup. It's easy to just turn the seat around and face forward, then launch the kite and use pedals to steer the boat downwind with the rudder.

    Last edited by Alan H; 11-16-2020 at 04:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    Up until now, the rowing machine has been a way to get loose and warm up before and cool down, after lifting sessions. Honestly, I can't imagine spending an hour and a half on a rowing machine. I'd die of boredom!
    Well, yes. It's definitely more enjoyable in a boat
    - Chris

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    I have a C2 erg, have to agree that 30 minutes on that is enough. 30 minutes out on the boat, with stuff to see and places to go, is just a start. Same with a treadmill or stationary bike, just can't do it.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    This is all I have to add: My 85% complete CLC Expedition Wherry. Too many projects got in the way this summer, so I hope to finish it over the winter.
    CaeYwAk.jpg
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Looks like John Welsfords "Seagull" is another option.

    Attachment 73232

    John, if you wouldn't mind commenting on the flat bottom vs. a V'd bottom with a bit more rocker/sweep to get the stern quarters a bit out of the water, I'd be interested!

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Art Haberland View Post
    This is all I have to add: My 85% complete CLC Expedition Wherry. Too many projects got in the way this summer, so I hope to finish it over the winter.
    CaeYwAk.jpg
    Oh the Expedition wherry is gorgeous. I really like the boat, it's just way too much $$ for me.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    I might also add that I'm somewhat interested in a boat with a transom, to make it a tich easier to mount a rudder. Why? Because I'm mighty curious about being able to drive a boat like what I'm talking about, with a Hydra training, water-launchable kite. This is part of why I like Ricks sliding seat rowing setup. It's easy to just turn the seat around and face forward, then launch the kite and use pedals to steer the boat downwind with the rudder.
    Not to be too discouraging, but don't expect much from the kite. I have tried a simple parafoil traction kite combined with rope steering of the rudder. It sort of works in open parts of the Delta, but if there is enough wind to fly the kite with a good pull then it's also easy to row downwind at hull speed. On smaller and winding parts of the Delta the kite just snags on things. A small downwind sail is much more practical and controllable. I'd be happy to see you prove me wrong with the steerable kite!

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Joe Doblers "Lissa" looks about right, too. She might have a bit too much windage.

    Attachment 73235

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    Not to be too discouraging, but don't expect much from the kite. I have tried a simple parafoil traction kite combined with rope steering of the rudder. It sort of works in open parts of the Delta, but if there is enough wind to fly the kite with a good pull then it's also easy to row downwind at hull speed. On smaller and winding parts of the Delta the kite just snags on things. A small downwind sail is much more practical and controllable. I'd be happy to see you prove me wrong with the steerable kite!
    Yeah, we've talked about this before. What you say makes perfect sense. You get in the tules and a kite is hopeless...for sure. I just wonder about things like launching in Vallejo and kiting/rowing down to Bethel Island, via Big Break where a lot of the trip is in pretty open water.

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    If you like Lissa then maybe Hylan's Hird Island skiff: http://www.dhylanboats.com/design/pl..._island_plans/



    His description of the Georgia marshes sounds a lot like the Delta. And, adding electric is what I'm doing right now (mostly for something to play with).

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    I DO like that!

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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    However, what I'd like to hear more from everybody is....

    Why do you like cruising under oar? Why do you prefer that over having a sailing, cruising dinghy? Or maybe it's not that you like it MORE, it's just different. OK, how so?

    What DON'T you like about cruising under oar? Strong headwinds are a lot of work....OK, got that! But what else?

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Talk to me about row-cruising

    Why do I prefer row cruising?

    Because--at those moments when I do prefer it--there's no wind, or a headwind and a non-negotiable destination.

    Also for those moments/trips where passages and channels are so narrow that sailing would be quixotic at best, idiotic for the most part. I love sliding along under oars in flat water on rivers, creeks, marshes, and sheltered backwaters. The silent (mostly) splashless (mostly) smooth glide of an oar-powered boat can't be beat. I have to say, I find less pleasure in the act of rowing in a chop or waves--the pleasure there comes from making a passage that I can't make under sail. That's good, too, but not the pure luxurious enjoyment of flatwater rowing.

    I don't like feathering--don't bother unless I absolutely have to. I've found I can use an oar like an SUP paddle rather than worrying about sculling.

    But since you CAN have a boat that both rows AND sails...

    Why on earth wouldn't you?

    Sleeping aboard is awfully nice--I find you can anchor anywhere without being hassled. Not that I always do, but there are trips I'll only make because I have that option open--e.g. rivers at high water where room to camp ashore can't be counted on.

    Some inspiration:


    IMG_1400 (2).jpg



    Tom
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