Finally – it’s done. The past many months have been dedicated to designing and building the first coastal cruising rowboat that’s truly practical. 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.
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.
Part of the motivation behind our efforts to design the sailing version of the RowCruiser came from the Race to Alaska (R2AK). As competitors in the race, we wanted something that was fast by oar and sail and could be raced non-stop for more than one week by two people.