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Thread: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

  1. #1
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    Default Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I've been thinking hard on a particular use case that I have:

    Participants: Myself, alone or with up to three children (i.e. no other adults).
    Venues: Small local lakes, and in fine weather inshore off beaches in Puget Sound.
    Capacity: 1-3, most likely one adult and two children (someone will have to wait on the beach); occasionally two adults; occasionally just three children; Bonus: one adult and three children, perhaps sitting on the floor.
    Special features: Must be hand launched by one adult at locations where there are no ramps, no trailer parking, etc. - in other words, must be cartoppable. Must be unpowered (lakes with power restrictions). Must be rowable (nothing against paddling, just prefer rowing).

    I've been thinking about this - and browsing the internet - off and on all winter, but have yet to come up with a design that seems like a home run. My first thought was Platt Monfort's geodesic airolite designs, but two things struck me: 1) I prefer double-enders for unpowered craft, based on aesthetics, and 2) The classic series appears very trim sensitive in all the photos I can find of them, making me wonder if maybe the sections need to be more full aft to really take two or three people. I've noticed something similar in photos of Dave Gentry's Shenandoah Whitehall: with a passenger in the stern she seems out of trim. I hasten to add that I'm hardly an expert, so perhaps my perception is wrong on this.

    My second thought was the Gardner-Mcinnis Bateau in BCSC, but I'm not sure if it can be built light enough. Similarly for Larry Westlake's handliners and Laurel skiff, which otherwise seem wonderful and in the right ballpark for capacity.

    Then I thought perhaps a guideboat - Adirondack or otherwise - might do the trick, although my understanding is that they're really only suited for two: a guide and a sport.

    Then I thought: perhaps a canoe set up for rowing. This brought me back to the geodesic boats: Perhaps the snowshoe explorer 14 or the snowshoe 16 could be tweaked a bit to have a touch more beam and a bit more flare, bringing them from 36" beam to perhaps 44" beam without much changing the waterline shape. Additional beam seems preferable to outriggers with passengers in the boat, as the outriggers shown by Monfort take up space, but I'm happy to be corrected if this isn't so. Additional flare would seem to help with secondary stability.

    I've actually had a fair amount of experience with canoes as a child (years and years ago), and I've done a fair amount of rowing in a 13' old town sportboat (a fat canoe with a transom), so a fattish canoe seems like it might be comfortable. The old town is ~100lb, which in my experience is really too heavy to conveniently load and unload from the car single-handed.

    I would love any critiques, suggestions, or other comments.

    References:
    http://westlakeboats.ca/
    http://gaboats.com/boats/snowshoeexplorer14_design.html.
    http://gaboats.com/boats/snowshoe16_design.html

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Quote Originally Posted by pandelume View Post

    My second thought was the Gardner-Mcinnis Bateau in BCSC, but I'm not sure if it can be built light enough.
    Itís been a while since Iíve looked at either the Bateau or Gartsideís Flashboat, but the Bateau might come out a bit lighter using Gartsideís construction details from the Flashboat.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Have you considered buying a used lightweight canoe and adding oarlocks just to play with the concept? You could choose a design to build once you're happy with the reality of the compromises you're proposing.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Cape Falcon kayaks has a rowing rig for their lightweight canoes. Gentry has plans out for a square stern canoe. If you are OK with the idea adding a trolling motor frees up a ton of room compared to rowing and leaves more attention for minding the little ones.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I have rowed a canoe for years with and without kids. I put oarlocks on the guwales and later bought a drop in sliding seat rig.

    A canoe makes a good rowing boat for Puget Sound
    Elect a clown expect a circus

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    This could be a solution: Steve Chambers of the forum built a couple of skin-on-frame versions of the Herreshoff LFH 17 rowboat some years ago. His write-up is on Duckworks: https://www.duckworksmagazine.com/12...h17/index.html

    I bought one of them from Steve, it was a nice fast rowboat and light enough to car top. It should handle the crew you are considering. Some pictures:




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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I own a 17-foot canoe in which two adults and two teens ( the boa will carry five adults if pressed ) plus a cooler and some towels, fit great. We paddle two miles to the beach. I don't row it, but a friend with the same boat rows his and reports that it rows great ( and he knows boats).

    A longer boat is often easier to car top, since you can lift one end at a time to get it on the rack.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Thanks very much for the replies. I'm not at all averse to buying a secondhand canoe and fitting it out for rowing, if I could find one light enough. I didn't specify before, but I'm mostly intending to fixed-seat row; putting in a sliding seat might be something I'd consider later, but since I'm planning on passengers it's not a major consideration. For those that have set up canoes for rowing, if you don't mind sharing I'd like to know what make and model you've used.

    I still have the 13' old town (actually, I have a 17' one now) which we load and unload pretty easily with two adults, and which we both row and drive with a 2hp motor. They're just too heavy for me to maneuver solo on or off the car in a parking lot and they're no picnic to carry down the beach if the tide is out (less of an issue on the lakes). I will say that I think the longer one is a bit easier to load than the shorter one even though it's somewhat heavier.

    Regarding the Bateau in BCSC, a forum member built one SOF a few years back - he was kind enough to share construction photos with me, but I'm not sure what the all up weight was nor how it performed. I'm intrigued by the guideboat - for those who know more about them, is there a model you'd recommend? I did find that both Brian Schulz at Cape Falcon Kayak and Urban Boatbuilders in MN have done SOF versions of guideboats. While not exactly cheap, they do seem to be less expensive than a traditional cedar boat. To be honest, I have doubts that I could successfully build a wooden guideboat in any reasonable amount of time (or maybe at all).

    The LFH17 rowboat is interesting. The plans for Jim Michalak's version don't seem to be available, but I have those in BCSC. What would you say the weight of the SOF version is?

    References:
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...teau-build-SOF
    http://capefalconkayak.com/adirondackguideboat2.0.html
    https://www.urbanboatbuilders.org/buy-a-boat/

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    To follow up on your comments, my canoe is a Royalex Old Town Camper and I can move it around and put it on a roof rack solo. I do have an extension on one bar of the roof rack. Slide it out over the side of the car and put one end of the canoe there and then pivot the other end of the canoe onto the rack

    I sold the sliding seat rig: more hassle to rig it and the canoe hobby horsed a lot
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I love this canoe,

    https://www.sourisriver.com/quetico-185


    49# with enough capacity for the whole family. Iíve done maybe 50 portages with one in the BWCA the longest of which was over two miles through steep paths and a swamp.

    Iíve only paddled it but I would think the length would help with rowing. With three strong paddlers this thing flies.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    LHF17 plans are available from Duckworks. I believe the SOF version comes in around 55 lbs.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Duckworks appears to say the plans aren't yet available:

    https://duckworks.com/lfh17-plans/

    55lbs in in the ballpark for what I'm looking for, so I'm definitely interested.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    A set of wheels is good.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Fuller View Post
    A set of wheels is good.
    100% agree. I'd like to get a set, even if only for the Old Town sportboat, which isn't much fun to carry down the beach. If you have any recommendations of brand or model (or homebrew suggestions), I would welcome them.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Easy enough to use Gardner's LFH 17 lines/offsets to make some temporary molds. You can then bend stringers around those, fastening at the stems, then bend in and fasten ribs. Skin with fabric and Bob's your uncle. There is a little more to it, but the process is pretty simple. I would be happy to provide pointers.

    Or one might be interested in my 15' double ended Shenandoah Peapod, which turned out to be quite similar to a classic Rushton 109 pulling boat.



    If an adult sits in the rear of any typical canoe, rowboat or sailing dinghy, then the stern will sink and the bow will rise. This is especially so in ultra light weight boats. The fix is to row from the forward thwart, or - in your case - to spread the kids out fore and aft.

    Dave
    Last edited by DGentry; 04-03-2021 at 08:45 AM.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Quote Originally Posted by pandelume View Post
    100% agree. I'd like to get a set, even if only for the Old Town sportboat, which isn't much fun to carry down the beach. If you have any recommendations of brand or model (or homebrew suggestions), I would welcome them.
    I built a wheel cart and did a little piece for Small Boat Magazine. I think 14 buck wheels. Some 1/2" rod for the axle. https://smallboatsmonthly.com/article/a-diy-cart/ The wheels were narrow plastic with tires and the affair could be broken down but there would be hard boat unfriendly bits. My goal was to go over hard ground, rocks, and ice ( use it for an iceboat). Some of the commercial ones used smaller fat beach friendly tires and break down really nicely.
    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: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Quote Originally Posted by pandelume View Post
    100% agree. I'd like to get a set, even if only for the Old Town sportboat, which isn't much fun to carry down the beach. If you have any recommendations of brand or model (or homebrew suggestions), I would welcome them.
    If you like your Old Town Sportboat Dave Gentry now has plans for a SOF square stern canoe. I know your pain I had the 17' and sold it because it was too heavy to deal with. Great boats if you don't have to move them.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I row my my 16' Outred Macgreggor though it's a bit narrow (32") and you have to overlap the handles and mind your knuckles. Lower hull resembles an old planked rowing shell and she is quite quick.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    How about an Angus Rowcruiser? Put the kids in the sleeping compartment, with the sliding hatch removed. Plus that way it can be used more seriously for just one person.
    https://smallboatsmonthly.com/article/rowcruiser/

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Dave Gentry's Indian Creek row/motor boat looks like it would be a great boat , with a electric trolling motor it is the cat's meow. http://gentrycustomboats.com/Indian_Creek.html
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Many thanks for all the replies so far. A quick update: I went ahead and bought plans for D. Gentry's peapod shown above, and I'm looking them over now. This seemed like the logical choice, since the boat as described is very close to what I was imagining when writing the OP - however, I'm not firmly decided that this is what I'll build. I'm still open to other designs and I am still checking local classifieds for a lightweight canoe or rowboat to just buy.

    I also went back to BCSC and reread the chapters on the St. Lawrence River skiffs and the Rangeley boat, both of which are also pretty similar to what I had in mind - particularly the St. Lawrence skiffs, which really remind me of a widened canoe.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    At the risk of veering off-topic, I have a suggestion for loading your boat single-handed: if your vehicle uses a hitch receiver, you could put a pivoting canoe loader on the back of your rig. I use this one (Amazon link) to load my 70 pound two-sheet faering (one of Flo-Mo's designs described here) by myself on top of my van. I have also loaded my 150 pound rowboat single-handed using the pivot (but was terrified I would blow out my shoulders). Point being, I am not a strong guy but can still load a heavier boat using the pivot since it takes half the weight.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Interesting idea. Does the loader also act, with additional straps, as the support for the aft end of the canoe while driving?

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    The loader helps support the weight of the boat, but it is hard to get a strap secured around the end. My two bigger rowboats (120 pound dory and 150 pound cedar strip) both have bow eyes through which I can pass a strap. Here's the 150 pounder:

    DSC08477.jpg

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    This is a simple DIY that fits any car, it can be used on the hood as well if you have a hatchback or similar.
    tips25.jpg
    https://www.thomassondesign.com/bygg...re/lasta-kajak
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Update:

    In addition to buying the plans for the Shenandoah Peapod (D. Gentry), I also bought the plans for the Geodesic Airolite Explorer 14 canoe. Both sets of plans come with station molds only - no lines or offsets. I digitized the plans for the GA canoe and then extracted stringer coordinates, allowing me to modify the station shapes and spacing to try to reflect the idea I had in the OP.

    Below are the new lines I came up with, compared to the published drawings on the GA website.

    GA drawings (https://www.gaboats.com/boats/snowsh..._design.html):
    SnowShoeExplorer14Front.jpg

    SnowShoeExplorer14Side.jpg


    SnowShoeExplorer14Top.jpg

    And the Lines I came up with:
    EXPLORER_14_V-06_LINES.jpg

    The new lines are to the insides of the stringers. I increased the width to about 43" overall, kept LOA at 14', and brought more fullness out to the ends of the boat by adjusting the station spacing. If I eventually build to this particular set of lines, I think I would build pretty much as the GA boat instructions specify (possibly lashing or using piloted ring nails instead of gluing the stringer/frame joins, possibly laminating stringers from two pieces), just to the new stations.

    I would be happy to hear any comments, criticisms, or suggestions.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Your changes will make a better rowboat
    The beam is wide enough to row on the gunnels (ala guideboat)
    The flare will make for a much drier boat, canoe style tumblehome is the worst for sucking waves aboard.
    Fullness in the ends is helpful for your spread out load requirements.
    Although...
    14 is a good length for the solo rower, provides sufficient load capacity, and helps keep the weight down...
    it could get crowded for 4 persons.
    Wayne
    Fremantle
    West Australia

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I think you were smart to choose one of Dave Gentry's designs. I built his Shenandoah Whitehall this past winter, and it's great boat. His boats are pretty quick to build, too, an important consideration. (I think my Whitehall took 40 or 50 hours.) The Whitehall is essentially doubled ended at the waterline, and I stretched it to 15'. Dave's peapod doesn't look that much different from The LFH17, except that it's not flat-bottomed and is probably a little wider at the beam. The LHF17 seems to use short outriggers. You could stretch Dave's boat a bit if you wanted something closer to the LHF17. That said, the LHF17 is certainly a handsome boat. Steve Chambers's version of it seems built with the same techniques as Dave Gentry's boats, using stringers over plywood frames. Instead of a keel on the bottom there's a narrow flat piece of plywood. That may or may not matter. I assume it's covered with fabric, so you'd have to be careful when pulling it ashore. A keel with a hardwood wear strip over the fabric might be better. Dave would know.
    Last edited by overland; 05-08-2021 at 12:56 PM.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Well, as sometimes happens, things have changed. A reasonably priced GA classic 12 showed up in the local classifieds, and I figured a decent boat in the water now is better than a 'perfect' boat in the water next year, so I snapped it up. (This philosophy is the same one I'm trying to apply to my other boat - a marsh cat, that is still in my garage awaiting some repair work.)

    But because it's fun (and because I still think I'd like to build it one day), I'm going to continue working on the design derived from the GA snowshoe explorer 14, and maybe we can compare it with the classic 12. Updates to the derived design to follow.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I love building boats, but I love sailing them even more.
    You chose wisely.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Once upon a time I found a damaged 16' Helman canoe for sale for just a few hundred bucks.
    I stashed it outside somewhere intending to rebuild it, and eventually it was crushed flat by snow.

    Years later I rebuilt her. Took off all the original aluminum rails and thwarts and replaced them with stuff I ripped out of Doug Fir 2x4s, patched a few spots with fiberglass, and touched up the exterior where needed with red paint (this boat doesn't have jell coat ).

    Total weight is 43 pounds. This boat sure would do everything you want and more. I'm thinking of adapting her to sail with an outrigger. She is a real pleasure to portage!

    Busted up kevlar boats are pretty easy to repair, you might want to see if any are available in your area.

    Another idea is to take a look at Flo-Mos boats. They are quite light. I bet far more durable than a fabric boat, faster to build, and there are several nice double-ended rowing models.

    http://flo-mo.weebly.com/two-sheet-boats.html

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Johngsandusky, thanks for the encouragement. I'm looking forward to getting the boat on the water this weekend.

    Etdbob, I have seen a few kevlar canoes for sale, but knowing next to nothing about their construction I hadn't given much thought to repairing damaged ones. Thanks very much for the suggestion - I will keep it in mind. Flo-Mo's boats are wonderful, and I have thought about a couple of them. The concern I had - perhaps wrongly - is that they'd likely wind up heavier than I was aiming for, although certainly light by any other standard. The Flywood fast rowboat (16' LOA, 48" beam) has an estimated hull weight of ~67lb (30)kg. The Flywood (15'3" LOA, 3'7" beam) is extremely close to the overall dimensions I was imagining, but I'm not sure if it could be built to ~40lb. Perhaps with 3mm or 4mm marine ply? A cursory internet search suggests that 4mm okoume weighs 12-15lb for a 4'x8' sheet, so it might be feasible. I'll think about it some more.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    I just used ordinary fiberglass to repair my kevlar boat where needed. You can sand fiberglass, but you can't sand kevlar!
    I even used Bondo polyester resin instead of epoxy, and it adhered just fine.

    Lightweight kevlar boats don't have jell coat on the exterior, just paint or nothing at all, which makes finishing them a snap. I just found a can of paint that sorta matched the exterior color, and touched it up where needed.

    Otherwise, replacement of the gunwales and thwarts was the same as you'd do in any boat. If you can find a junk kevlar boat cheap, it might be worth looking into.

    Sometimes folks want a pile of coin even for junked kevlar boats though!

    I glued spacer blocks inside for a "scuppered" inwale with Pl Premium 3X glue. It was the first time I used such glue and it worked great.
    The thin wales themselves were ripped from a clear 16' Doug Fir 2x4, and glued in place. No screws or nails anywhere.

    I used some thin underlayment plywood for new end decks which, looking back, was probably a mistake. But, it's light, and hasn't come apart yet.

    You do need lots and lots of clamps!

    I'm pretty sure I modified the shape a bit when I put her back together. The original wales and thwarts were aluminum and were all busted up, and I was guessing at the shape. I bet you could spread her amidships to make it a better row boat.

    I think my rebuild might even be a little lighter than she was new!

    sailing 016.jpg

    She came out fine and certainly is a joy to carry. There is a little unfairness to the ends but I certainly don't care -

    SAM_8692.jpg

    I do know what you mean when you say you want a light boat though. I've done the Bowron lake circuit twice, which has about seven miles of portages. First time was in big Wenonah that was not a light boat. I had a very strong traveling companion that did much of the portaging, but I still had to spell him! The second time was with my wife in our old 16' fiberglass boat made by the Stowe Canoe and Snowshoe co.
    That boat weighs 65 pounds and I carried it every step of the way.

    On my second circuit of the lakes, (which was 18 years ago! I must be getting old) I noticed most everyone else had a set of wheels for there boat! We were among the few still portaging the old fashioned way. By now I'm sure no-one carries the canoe anymore.

    Thanks to my light kevlar boat and the fact that I like real out of the way places, I reckon I'll keep playing "party hat" with my canoes, but a cart isn't a bad idea -

    Ross Lake 236.jpg

    Here is an easily made cart that looks quite promising, but I think I'd use much larger wheels for soft ground. I'm sure it could be adapted for any light boat.

    As I learned on my second Bowron trip, the advantages of a canoe cart is not having to carry the boat, but also not having to make a second or third trip to the car for all your gear. It all rides inside the boat and you roll it to the water. You do have to find a spot to carry the wheels along with you in the boat though!




    https://www.instructables.com/Portag...es-and-kayaks/
    Last edited by Etdbob; 05-26-2021 at 04:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Ultralight Rowboat Derived from Canoe?

    Etdbob, thanks for the description and the link to the canoe cart instructable. I think you did a nice job fixing up that canoe. I will keep an eye out for kevlar canoes - the ones I've seen haven't been cheap, but maybe one will come along.

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