New Boats Galore
It’s been a long dark winter, but we’ve been having fun in the shop building and designing a few different projects. Three things are currently on the go: easy-to-build hollow shaft oars, a lightweight 16’ open wherry, and the pinnacle of human-powered decadence – a cruising rowboat. All should be completed in about two months, and then we’ll have plans available shortly after.
The cruising rowboat is a concept I’ve pondered for years, and when a fellow inquired about the possibility of us building one for an expedition he is planning, I jumped at the chance to design and build it.
Constructing a human powered boat that has comfortable accommodation on board for camping on the water is a delicate balancing act. It’s imperative to remember we only produce ¼ horsepower, meaning we can’t propel heavy cumbersome vessels into adverse weather. An overbuilt boat powered only by oars, in fact, is dangerous and unseaworthy when near land. An ocean rowboat, for example (the type used for crossing oceans), would be the worst type of craft to use for coastal rowing or on a non-downwind down-current route because of its excessive size and windage.
With this in mind, I set out to design a boat that would be lightweight (about 150 lbs), with minimal windage, and powered with a sliding seat rowing system – the most effective way of harnessing human energy on water. The 19’ vessel will have a comfortable sleeping cabin with a pop-top hatch, and the cockpit will double as both the rowing area and the evening lounge. This will be achieved with a small retractable table and countertop (with stove, sink and prep area) which stows when the boat is underway.
This decked boat will be fast and seaworthy and camping at the end of the day will be as easy as finding a sheltered anchorage and dropping the anchor and opening a bottle of wine.
The other boat we’re close to finishing is a sixteen foot open wherry. This boat is a fusion, combining the traditional lines and wineglass transoms of the boats of yore along with modern hydrodynamic theories and lightweight construction. For those looking for a handsome boat and fast full-body workout, this will be the boat for you.
And finally, we’re crafting a pair of hollow-shaft oars from spruce similar to how racing oars were built before the advent of carbon fibre. Amazingly, good hollow wood oars are only slightly heavier than the lightest commercial oars available. It is labour intensive, but we’re working out the easiest and most efficient way to build them.
Within a month or two, we’ll have a slew of photos for all these projects followed shortly after with plans and manuals.
We hope you’re all having a great New Year, and good luck with all your boating plans!
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