Rowing Yacht

Finally – it’s done. The past many months have been dedicated to designing and building the first coastal cruising rowboat that’s truly practical.

Row hard, drop your anchor, and relax through the night

Row hard, drop your anchor, and relax through the night

It’s not easy by any means. The problem is a human only generates a fraction of a horsepower. If you make a big heavy boat with large cabins and abundant wetted area it will be unwieldy and unseaworthy. The unseaworthiness is attributed to the fact that it is quickly overpowered by sudden strong winds and can be blown into a lee shore. Additionally, rowing progress will be poor in all but calm conditions or tailwinds.

What about ocean rowboats, you may wonder? Don’t people cross oceans in big heavy bulbous vessels? Actually, ocean rowboats make extremely dangerous coastal cruisers. They are only safe when out at sea, far away from any hazards of land. And from a performance perspective, they only do well in calm conditions or with tail winds. This is why every ocean rowing route is chosen to go with prevailing winds and currents. With coastal rowing however, we have to deal with rocks, contrary winds, and restrictive waterways.

To make a rowing boat that could have the comfort of a small cruising sailboat, yet offer the performance of a small sleek sea kayak (in all kinds of weather conditions), we really had to focus on miniaturization. The cabin had to be low, the boat light, and the camping accessories small and stowable.
The goal was to have a boat that could row well, yet be a comfortable home when anchored. It needed to be seaworthy enough to voyage in gale-force conditions, be unsinkable, and still be pretty. After taking the boat on her maiden camping voyage last week, we were pleased that it performed just as we’d hoped.

The boat is 19’ long, 175 lbs fully rigged.
You can check out the pics here: Camper rowboat pics

Currently we’re going full steam ahead with our expedition planning (three projects this summer) so we won’t have plans available until the winter of 2011.
For those inquiring about the wherry , we’ve created the basic hull, but won’t have time to finish it until getting back from our expeditions. Again, it should be ready in the winter of 2011 with plans available shortly after.

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31 Responses to Rowing Yacht

  1. Jeff Landrum says:

    Absolutely beautiful boat. Great now I’m gonna have to decide which one to build ! Do you by chance happen to include a build dvd with your kits?

  2. Jay Jeffries says:

    Great looking design that looks to be well thought out and very functional. Look forward seeing the plans when they become available.

  3. Chris Clarke says:

    Well, I can’t seem to get on the forum to thank you for answering my question about cruising rowboat information so I shall do it here.

    I must say that It looks absolutely great. There are so many details to drink in I don’t even have any questions yet!

  4. James Hull says:

    This cruising rowboat is a brilliant idea. It has caught my fancy because one day I would like to mimic my grandfather who, in 1928, went from Detroit, Michigan to New Orleans, Louisiana with his brother in a 19′ canoe. I can see that this cruising rowboat could serve in that capacity quite nicely.

  5. Walter Baron says:

    Nice idea and execution. How does she sit on the flats at low tide ? Here on Cape Cod, we have 10′ + tides, and sandy bottom, so a boat that sits upright when the tide goes out is a big plus.

  6. admin says:

    She settles quite nicely on the flat. The bottom in V-d but it flattens out almost completely in the middle. If you have the pontoons out on either side, it will definitely stay level.

  7. paul salkaln says:

    very nice. plans next winter. perfect!!

  8. Donald McPherson says:

    Exactly the boat i dreamed about. let me know when the plans are for sale.

  9. chip mcelroy says:

    I realy like this boat, I will be ordering plans once your store is reopened. Good luck in all your adventures

  10. John klerck says:

    Look forward to seeing the plans as I would like to build one. Meantime would like to know what the beam of the boat is.

  11. I’ll be watching your store for when the plans/kits are available. I will build and live on this boat as soon as it’s ready.

  12. Tatiana says:

    Wow, wonderful. It looks like I finally found my dream boat….
    Where would I store extra oars? The ocean boats have them on the sides – and that also helps to stay in if the knocked by the wave. Is that correct?
    Also, what was the roughest condition tested?
    What would happen if she does capsize while I am sleeping inside? If she can’t right herself, then what?
    Thanks! keep up awesome work. Can’t wait to see your wherry….

  13. This is a magnificent achievement – designing and building it yourself, I mean. I bought a pack of 500 plans from this site:, hoping to build a seagoing rowboat, but the pack had nothing like this. Well done & good luck!

  14. Bob Peckham says:

    A wonderful design for wandering the shores of the Great Lakes. Finished bright topsides it would make the plastic boat captains more than a bit envious. I am looking forward to the plans.

  15. paul says:

    Wonder who will be first to cross an ocean solo in one! Great design.

  16. Scot Domergue says:

    Very interesting boat! It’s suprisingly similar to an 18′ LOA, 42″ beam sailing/rowing/cruising boat I’m currently (slowly) building. I’ll send you drawings if I can figure out how to do so. I suspect mine will row rather similarly to your cruiser,. I know Colin is also a sailor. Have you considered incorporating that? Mine should be a fast and fun sailboat as well as rowing cruiser. The hull shape is quite similar to the IC 10 racing canoes. I’m making mine of composite sandwich with CoreCell core, so it should be lighter.

  17. Wow – what a beautiful design. Are there any semi-completed boats available for purchase? (Or at least the hull?) I would love to modify one of your designs for a project I am undertaking (please see the attached website) that is looking for a new hull design. I would love to turn one of these into the base for my pedal-powered expedition boat (with full credit to Angus Rowboats for the design, of course). Send me an email with your thoughts…

  18. Mike Roz says:

    We have been looking forward to viewing the plans for the sleeper rower. Please provide an update on progress of market ready plans.

  19. skipper bachman says:

    I am just a few hours from completing the expedition rowboat. I just thought i’d check your site out to see what you guys are up to and came across this beauty. Well it looks like i’ll have to build another boat! (joke) I can’t wait to get on the water in the expedition, I made the forward bulkhead so that my legs will fit so I can sleep in it in a pinch. Not quite as accommodating as the rowing yacht.

  20. Boe Fletcher says:

    So the plans are available now?

    I’ve been rowing and camping out of my Maas aero and would like to venture further, this looks perfect!

  21. hallie says:

    Fantastic – both style and function. Please email me when plans are available? I’d love to combine this with a grand biking adventure I have in mind, with Tony’s trailers another key feature. 😀

  22. Dave Atherton says:

    I am curious as to how well the boat rows in chop and wind when it is essentially empty. Do you have to add ballast? The rowing station is positioned fairly far toward the stern, leaving a lot of bow to blow around when empty. Most of my rowing will be done as day trips, without a lot of camping gear. Would your expedition boat be more appropriate for this? Some of the water I row in can get quite rough, ie. Lake Kachess Wa, lake Rooselvelt Wa, Flathead lake Mt, Puget Sound etc. Camping would be a desirable but minority use of this boat. I have rowed single sculls in competition and feel fairly confident in narrow boats.

  23. admin says:

    Hello Dave,
    If you are planning more day trips, the Expedition boat would definitely be preferable. With the Rowing Yacht you’ll be lugging along a lot of unnecessary boat. The Expedition Boat is just as seaworthy, only smaller. It has enough stability that you can row in the bigger waves without needing to focus on balance as you would with a rowing shell.

  24. Curt says:

    Oh. oh. Oh! This is a must build. It begs for a yawl rig. Seniors that have blown shoulder sockets should not be denied this soul craft. Please tell me you are condidering a sail option. My checkbook is on the ready.

  25. Paul Squire says:

    Would you think of adding a rudder? Personally I prefer the simplicity of doing without but sometimes on a long crossing with a quartering wind …?

    Are the plans getting close?

  26. admin says:

    Good question. We won’t be adding a rudder to the basic plans/kit, however, it definitely is something that could be worthwhile for individual modifications. We’re currently going full-steam with Angus Rowboats, but unfortunately, the plans for the Cruiser have been pushed off a bit. We’re presently developing kits for the Cambridge Racer, Expedition, and Salamander (along with build videos), so now it’s looking like early fall is our ETA for the Cruiser. Having said that, the feedback we’ve had on the Cruiser indicates it may be our most popular boat, so we do want to get moving there. In 2014 we may develop sailing kits for the Expedition and Cruiser, which will include rudders.I’ll keep you posted.

  27. Chris Fredell says:

    I really appreciate your pioneering work with rowing designs, expeditions, photos/filming, creating web and media outreach–wow, you folks are making it happen! My own current interest is moving toward involving Alaskan youth with rowing adventures and boatbuilding projects, both of which offer rich opportunities for skill and confidence building–as well as life lessons of all kinds. Your website, describing exploration activities and boatbuilding possibilities, is leading me to get moving now! Please keep me posted as you progress toward making your building plans/kits available. Your ethic and your products/activities could help in developing things here in Southeast Alaska–benefiting young people and families as they grow and explore this amazing region of ocean and islands. Thanks again for the inspiration of your website and your efforts!

  28. admin says:

    Thanks, Chris! I must admit, it has been fun. Sounds like you’re leading an interesting life yourself. It’s so important to inspire kids to enjoy the outdoors, and for them to learn what their passions are – something I spend a lot of time thinking about these days, now that our little guy turned two. This summer I’ll be building him a boat to teach him to sail in two steps. It’ll be powered with a small electric motor, so he can learn the basics of using a tiller without the complexities of sail. Once that’s mastered, then we’ll hoist the rags. Good luck with your own projects, and I’ll keep you posted.


  29. Wayne says:

    I love the cruiser.

    And adding sail and rudder would be great additions.


  30. Colin Angus says:

    Yes, we’ve had a lot of people inquiring about a sailing rig. Definitely an option to think about down the road. A rudder, lee board and small mast could be fun.

  31. robert childers says:

    That seems like a terrific design! Hopefully there is one in my future.

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