I like Jim Michalak's designs. He is the Delia Smith of boats - they just work. His craft are easy to build, effective and unconcerned with style, but also thought through. There is a reason for every feature.
Michalak runs an essay twice a month, often reruns but none the worse for that. The current essay is about rowing, and it is a treat.
Jim is a fan of Pete Culler's rowing boats, and he has designed oars and boats on Culler's principles but using modern glues, mainly epoxy.
The oars are cut out of single planks to form a long, slender, straight blade with square looms for strength and balance. Michalak points out that big hatchet blades might be great for racing but for cruising they are heavy to swing and catch both wind and water.
Michalak has designed a neat seat that doubles as a ditty box for all that stuff that otherwise rolls about in the bottom of the boat - sun block, water, knife, whistle, that sort of thing. The advantage of a box is that you can adjust the seat position simply by moving it up and down the boat.
I must confess I don't like his oarlocks very much, even though they are based on an idea of Phil Bolger's. They have a steel pin with a curved metal strap running round the oar to keep it against the pin. I don't think they will be nearly as effective or robust as the traditional thole pin and rope, such as the Catalan estrop that Ben Crawshaw pictured in The Invisible Workshop recently.
Michalak ends with a description of his Roar2, a 14ft skiff, which has Mickalak's trademark long bow, but I personally prefer his Batto, an 18ft by 3ft double ender based on a Pete Culler design but updated for modern construction methods (ie stitch'n'glue).