Friday, 30 January 2009

Restoration project on eBay

A lovely double skiff has come up on eBay. She is 18ft long and fitted with outriggers and square pattern swivels so she must have been built for racing, though the high freeboard and fixed thwarts seem to indicate tidal use. She is currently in Alfreton, Derbyshire, so perhaps she was used on one of the northern rivers.
The seller says she was bought for a re-enactment group but the chap who was going to restore her unfortunately died, so it is for sale at the bargain price of 99p. The seller also says it 'needs some TLC' which is Northern understatement - judging by the patch on the bottom and some evident damage, she needs total restoration. But I think it would be worth it.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Rowing in Amsterdam

Fixed seat rowing in Holland - a house plaque from Amsterdam posted on Boats on Buildings. I suspect that the nearest English translation of Waarheen Daarheen is Where the *#~+! am I going?
writes from the Boats on Buildings Flickr group to say that the symbolism of a rowing boat is that the rower is turned backwards to where he is going (the future) and is looking back to where he is coming from (the past).
Waarheen Daarheen means "Where too? To there!".
Nothing is known about the type of boat. The house used to belong to a skipper of the ferry
going from Amsterdam North to Amsterdam Central.
The gable stone was made by Hans 't Mannetje in 2005. It is fabulous to see such a delightful craft still flourishing - take a look at his website.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Sports Tracker

I played with Nokia Sports Tracker on my spiffy E71 today, generating this online report.
The start point was the ferry hard at Smuggler's Road, Bosham, a couple of hours before high tide (1700) in order to get back before dark (just after 1700).
So I was bashing up Bosham channel with the wind and tide, and bashing back down against both. The Sports Tracker graph of speed against time shows a speed of about 9kph up the channel, and about 7kph back again.
What I really like about the site is that as you run the cursor along the speed/time graph, a yellow dot runs along the satnav track to show exactly where you were. Very, very cool.

London Merfolk

David over at neversealand has kindly dedicated a dramatic picture of the replica Argo to me, so here is a mermaid (and a merman) for him. Not as sexy as the ones that appear on his blog, but arty as hell. Carved in 1831, they are the 'supporters' in the coat of arms of the Fishmongers Company, on their livery hall facing London Bridge.
The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers is one of London's ancient guilds, tracing its origins back more than 700 years. They used to have a complete monopoly of the supply of fish in the city, but today they are concerned mainly with charitable work (being incrediby rich).
By the way, the thing the merman is brandishing is not a sword but a falchion, a broad blade designed to hack heads off. On the shield are three dolphins naiant (swimming right to left) and pairs of stockfishes (dried cod) with crowns on their mouths. What a wonderful thing heraldry is.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

New Charleston Mosquito Fleet

Edwin Gardner writes from Charleston, South Carolina, in response to the post on Joe Dobler's Crestwood gig, a 34ft gig designed for easy construction by youth clubs.
The New Charleston Mosquito Fleet was founded to get inner city children involved in boatbuilding and boating, and has proved a great success - read more here. Note the thole pins.
The original Mosquito Fleet were the African American fishermen of Charleston, who rowed out in the morning and sailed back in the evening with the sea breeze. Of course, they would arrive just as the mozzies came out to play.
The New Mosquito Fleet goes out at dawn up to three times a week as Edwin lyrically describes:
Hello Chris,
Sending you a couple of shots from a recent sunrise row (we go out every Mon, Wed, and Fri at dawn.) We live for these foggy mornings, getting out of sight of the shore, navigating by compass, listening intently for approaching engine sounds, watching the gradual lightening of the fog as the sun rises unseen.
New Charleston Mosquito Fleet was founded in 1995 in Charleston SC as a mentoring program for inner city middle school kids. Little appreciation has been given to the rich African American waterman culture of the Old South, a tradition every bit as colorful and deep as New England whaling and lobstering. (Recommended reading: Jeff Bolster's Black Jacks, Africqan American Seamen in the Age of Sail, and David Cecelski's Slavery and Freedom in Maritime North Carolina.) We built two Joe Dobler designed pilot gigs with the kids, and we've been rowing them ever since. All visitors are welcome any time.

You've got a great blog. Keep it up. Maybe it's your destiny to pick up the thread where Open Water Rowing left off.....?

Edwin Gardner

I hereby resolve to get out for pre-breakfast rows as soon as the weather warms up a bit.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

With Langstone Cutters

For the first time in ages I went rowing with my son Miles today. We joined Langstone Cutters for a trip round the harbour in their Clayton skiff Gladys, the first time Miles had rowed in a fixed seat four. Here he is coxing.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

January's ice and snow...

...make your feet and fingers completely numb, as a matter of fact.
For the first time in my life I rowed through ice today.
The harbour at Bosham was covered with random sheets of ice and slush. Great cracking noises came from the bow, and the blades sliced through ice as well. I felt like the nuclear ice-breaker Lenin, pride of the Soviet fleet. Gradually, sensation returned to my fingers and toes as the exercise warmed me through, but I didn't stay out long.

Lobstering in Maine

I have this awful feeling that the poem 'Thole Pin Rhythm' has set off another long-running blog obsession with lobstering, like the punt gunning thing. Visiting today, I followed a link to the Casco Bay Boaters Blog which is a horde of lovely stuff about the coast of Maine. And what should I find but a story of Tom Jarvis, who tends his lobster pots in the old fashioned way, in a dory powered by oars working in, of course, thole pins. Just like the poem.
The dory is as simple as it could possibly be - no centreboard or rudder, just a mast stepped in the forward thwart and setting a lugsail. He rows out and sails back, steering the boat with one of the oars.
He can't make a living out of it, of course. He is a highly qualified engineer working on sound-proofing systems for marine engine rooms, and rows out to his pots most days either before or after work. Which is why he rows and sails rather than roaring along in a fibreglass dory with a couple of monster outboards on the back. It's just fun, he says. And he is so right.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Whaleboat 'Molly' crosses the Solent

The intrepid Henley Whalers visited the Isle of Wight on New Year's Day, a civilised jaunt from Lymington to Yarmouth where they had lunch at the King's Head. I was busy elsewhere, sadly.
The trip across went swimmingly, as Geoff reported by text message:
Hi Chris. Sorry you couldn't join us. We had a very quick row across. Just 1 hour 11 minutes. We were so early we had to wait outside the pub before it opened. Hope to meet up soon. Geoff
The journey back was less smooth, however, as Geoff emailed later:
The wind was a gentle east north-east, but high tide had been at 13:00 and a current was now running firmly to the West. One tack across The Solent brought Molly to the North shore, rather west of Lymington. The return tack brought Molly almost back to the mouth of Yarmouth harbour– Disconcerting!
Another big tack to the north shore and they were even further down-current of their objective, so there was nothing for it but to break out the oars. Molly arrived back at the slipway in the dark.
On reflection, it might have been better nautical practice to have SAILED from Lymington to Yarmouth (with the wind on the port quarter), and to have ROWED back. One straight row into the light wind, would have been easy with eight crew even after a large lunch, and might have taken only an hour and a half.
Still – No harm done, and a great day out celebrated at the Lymington slipway with Christmas cake and Madeiran Poncha. Same again next year maybe?
Sounds like a great trip, despite the long slog back. More about the Henley Whalers here.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Thole Pin Rhythm

That prolific commentator A. Nonny Mouse, has sent a rather lovely poem in a comment on a post on winter rowing from last year. It seems a shame to leave it hidden in the annals, so I thought I would give it a post to itself:
Tholepin rhythm up the sound,
Leathern fingers grip eight foot oars,
Keen eyes watch along the shores
For bobbing bottles and wooden buoys
Carved with a name and a number that
Holds a tarred warp to a bedroom trap.
Drop and swish, then up the sound,
By noon to row the string around
Tholepin rhythm up the sound.

It is by Richard O. Bickford of Winter Harbor, Maine, so the 'sound' refers to the harbour itself. The 'bedroom trap' is a lobster pot - Winter Harbor is a centre for the famous Maine lobster fishery, because the harbour never freezes (that's why it's called 'Winter Harbor'). Sadly, the fishermen have long abandoned rowing in favour of motor boats, but they had the good taste to develop a particularly the effective and attractive Maine lobster boat, justly admired the world over.
The poem is the introduction to Musquito Harbor: A Narrative History of Winter Harbor, Maine 1790-2005, by Allan Smallidge, who reckons it is all to do with the cadence of life in the town. He writes:
Many people may not be familiar with thole pins. They were early oarlocks for rowing boats, two wooden pins or dowels a few inches apart on each rail of a dory, which, if one were skillful enough, held the oars in place. Their rhythm was a regular cathunk, cathunk sound that carried soothingly over still, early morning water or groaned and squealed when the sea was rough and the rowing was strenuous. The success of the rhythm depended a great deal upon the skill and the art of the rower, just as a contented life in the village of Winter Harbor depended a great deal upon a person’s ability to keep up with the rhythm, particularly the rhythm of the seasons. For it is a seasonal life in Winter Harbor. The summer people come and the summer people go; the lobster traps go out and the lobster traps come in; the summer moorings are dropped in the cove in the spring and come out again in the fall; the houses were once banked with brush (evergreen bows), and in the spring the brush was removed and burned in a pile in back of the house; the storm windows went on and the storm windows came off; wood was "manufactured" (sawn, split) and tiered, then burned, and ashes were carried out; the lamp chimneys were soiled in the
evening, cleaned in the morning, dirtied again the next night; Eastern Star met on Monday evenings, Masons on Wednesdays. Town meeting was always the first Monday in March, every March, school began the day after Labor Day, and Memorial Day was always observed. And thus it went, the rhythm of the days and of the seasons, sometimes gentle and soothing, sometimes protesting with agonizing squeals and groans like the thole pin rhythms on the sound.

Musquito Harbor: A Narrative History of Winter Harbor, Maine 1790-2005 is published by Ironbound Press. The picture is from

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Welsford on rowing (concluded)

In this last exclusive extract from John Welsford's forthcoming book on boatbuilding and cruising, he discusses oars. I totally agree with him that the high tech swivels with screw-up gates found on racing boats are over the top for recreational rowing. They also look inappropriately plastic in a boat built for style and comfort rather than out-and-out speed. Bronze rowlocks do the job and look good too.
For oars, John recommends buying 'seconds' and finishing them to taste, but there is another way - go to your local rowing club and you will almost certainly find a pile of lovely wooden blades stacked up at the back of the boathouse, rejected in favour of carbon fibre but too lovely to put on the bonfire. Offer them £30 a pair and restore them to working condition.
The picture above is of the very smart square pattern rowlocks on Nessy, with a reconditioned oar from the local coastal rowing club. The picture at the bottom (ha!) is of the sheepskin seat cover used by transatlantic rower Roz Savage.

"The wondrous rowlocks seen on the rowing club skiffs and shells are a bit too expensive and far too complex for my knockabout use. I stick to a conventional bronze rowlock from a local foundry, and set the pitch by carving a small ‘flat’ in the underside of the oar handle where the thumb grips it. When positioned correctly this will make the oar fit the hand only at the correct angle, and will keep the blade at a constant angle in relation to the hand without having to think about it.
Since I have had the misfortune to injure my hands on a woodworking machine, I have taken the shaping a little further and made a similar small flat on the top side for the first two fingers, which greatly improves the grip of my no longer strong hands. Friends who have rowed with these have, in many cases, gone home and done the same to their oars.
Note that the ‘catch angle’ or ‘pitch’ of the blade should be about 15deg positive on these boats. That means that the blade is angled 15deg to dig into the water as you pull on it. Not only does this prevent the blade from popping back out of the water as you heave on it, but it tends to stabilise the boat as well.
Good oars are essential; they make or break the whole project. My efforts to build good ones from scratch were successful, but I conceived a serious dislike of what was for me a tedious job, one that took too long while my new boat sat waiting to get out on the water. Nor was I prepared to pay through the nose for some craftsman to charge me the earth for ‘specials’ (you will have gathered that I don’t think much of the store-bought models!) so now I buy standard seconds in local pine and doctor them myself.
I cut the blade down to 110 mm wide at the tip, tapering to 90 mm where it begins to curve into the shaft. The loom (the section of the oar’s shaft from the blade inboard end, or ‘neck’, to the leather, where the oar passes through the rowlock) is also tapered, leaving it close to the original dimensions fore and aft (90deg to the blade), but tapering from round where it leaves the leather to only 30 mm at the neck; this is rounded off to a nice oval shape.
A round-mouthed spokeshave is used to thin the blades to about 6 mm at the blade edges, and 9 mm at the centre of the blade, with a full-thickness rib down the centre. This rib can be carried out to the end of the blade, and the tip scalloped to form a strong pointed end to the oar. It doesn’t help the performance but it looks appealing, and gives you something to push the boat off a jetty with without breaking the oar’s blade!
My oars have very long leathers, made of leather of course. But I do secure them with contact cement before stitching them, and then coat the thread with glue which prevents the stitching from being worn away. There are no ‘buttons’ or lugs to locate the oar, but rather a lanyard from the rowlock throat to the neck of the oar. There is a tent rope adjuster on each one should the length need changing; this enables the ‘gear ratio’ to be changed by moving the handles inboard and rowing cross-handed into a headwind, or slid out a little if rowing leisurely downwind.
This system also serves to secure the rowlocks into the boat, meaning that the oars stay with the boat in case of a mishap!
To test an oar’s balance, sit in the boat with the oar in position, resting the hand on the handle with the shaft straight across the boat; the tip of the blade should only just kiss the water with the forearm completely relaxed. If the oar is still heavy in the blade after being ‘operated’ on, it might pay to try a lead collar on the shaft up by the handle.
It can take a while to get used to the feel of a well-balanced pair of ‘sticks’ but it’s well worth the effort; they burn a lot less energy than the overweight ‘clubs’ that most people use.
Earlier when I described the dimensions of the blades, my ears burned a bit. I know that the big spoon blade is the accepted norm for performance boats, and for short distances in flat water; when swung by trained athletes this is certainly the case. However, if you look at the history of rowing boats used in open water, you will notice that they almost invariably had very narrow blades and allowed extra length for slippage.
These slim blades were not only less prone to damage, they had a lot less windage. The old fishermen knew that having to twist the wrists 1500 times an hour for half a day at a time to feather those big blades was just not practical. Should you not agree, think of me when you are sitting out on the water, your forearms near-rigid with tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or repetitive strain injury.
Still on the subject of bodily comfort, the seat is very important. Sitting at 200mm (8in) high, the knees are too high for the thigh muscles to help the buttocks cushion the pelvis, and the rocking action can make for a very sore tail! I have a piece of soft closed-cell foam over which I have a piece of shaggy sheepskin rug— luxury, no matter what one might or might not wear.
Those big thigh muscles do a lot of work even in a fixed seat boat, they and the belly musculature are what drives the back and forth movement of the torso so freedom of pelvic movement on your chosen seat material is very important.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

High tide was late today, but when I got to Dell Quay at 1500 ice was still covering the hard. As the tide came in it floated off in little chunks, forming a miniature ice floe over the water at the edge. To warm up, I put a bit of power on and recorded just over 10mph maximum speed. The hull speed of Snarleyow is only about 7mph, which shows how fast it can be driven for a short distance.
But the average over three quarters of an hour was only 3.7mph which shows what happens when you rest on your oars and enjoy the great flocks of seabirds overwintering here.

Rowing Santas in Greece

...where they got a white Christmas, seemingly. Thanks to the Rowing Service for the headsup.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Prototype ScullMatix goes on test

Guy Capra has received the first prototype of his new invention, the ScullMatix automatic sculling oar, and lost no time putting it on test.
The device is being manufactured by Chuck Leinweber at Duckworks. It is a sort of crank that bolts an extra offset handle to a regular oar, converting it into a species of yuloh. According to Guy, it is much easier to use than an oar and much handier than a yuloh, which tends to be extremely long.
Here's a video from Guy's blog Nauticaerium.

Friday, 2 January 2009

John Welsford on cruising rowboats (con't)

John Welsford continues the chapter on cruising under oars in his forthcoming book with a discussion of seaworthiness and oar length. His preference for light boats with widely flared sides and a strong sheer is endorsed by the design of the Cornish pilot gig, a boat with legendary sea-keeping qualities (pictured above in the not very challenging waters of Beale Park last year). Crews regularly used to row them way into the Atlantic, to be first to put pilots onto incoming ships, and racing crews to this day go out in conditions that deter most leisure sailors. They can, however, be a bit intimidating for new rowers:

The uninitiated will find rowing one of these craft somewhat like the first time riding a 'two wheeler bike', but - like the bicycle - it will not be long before you wonder how you could ever have felt unsafe. In fact, with practice, some of these boats can be extraordinarily seaworthy, as long as the rower has the energy to keep them moving at the right angle to the waves. Note that we are talking mainly here about the non-outrigger fixed-seat boats which form the majority of the recreational fleet.
I can hear the 'old salts' muttering about the lightweight boat not 'carrying its way' (gliding on between oar strokes), and can assure the doubters that many of these very light craft will keep moving for a long time while the rower rests. They behave very differently from the old clinker dinghy that Granddad used to keep down by the beach, and will generally outperform the common general-purpose dinghy of yesteryear, even in really adverse conditions.
Seaworthiness is a very important consideration in the design of an open water rowing boat, as the rower cannot be expected to outrun a squall in the same way that a powerboat can. We designers must provide our clients with boats that will cope with the worst that one might encounter when crossing the mouth of a big estuary, for example, wind against tide can create sea conditions that are out of all proportion to expectations. The wide flared sides that give the rowlocks their spread, combined with the strong sheer that most of the traditionally styled craft have, help the boat ride over breaking crests, while the narrow waterlines and fine bows allow it to drive through head seas in a manner impossible with other kinds of boat.
As mentioned above, the ergonomics of the boat are critical. A movement that will be repeated thousands of times must be both effortless and truly comfortable. To give you an idea, when I am cruising I like to row for two hours in the morning and two hours during the calm of the evening. At my favoured pace of 25 strokes per minute this adds up to 6000 strokes per day, far too many repetitions to tolerate even the slightest discomfort.
In terms of movement, the exaggerated pendulum action of the torso, seen in competition fixed seat craft such as the Australasian surfboats and the big pilot gigs and whaleboats in the UK and USA has no place in long-distance cruising. Not only does it burn energy far too quickly, but on a long trip it stresses the body more than is desirable for people who may not be in top condition.
Oar length can be likened to the gears on a bicycle, but they can't be altered as easily so they have to be right first up. A long oar gives too "high" a gear and the boat is hard to row upwind, while a short oar will have the rower flailing away at a high stroke rate and not going anywhere.
The calculation of oar length for one of my boats is based on a movement at the hands of only 700 mm. The theoretical cruising speed of the boat is then worked out by taking the square root of the boat's waterline length in feet (imperial units of measurement are good for some things) and multiplying the result by a figure between 1 and 1.4. This figure is arrived at by an analysis of such things as the boat's displacement-to-length ratio, beam-to-length ratio, and the entry and exit angles of the waterflow. All very scientific, but what it really means is that a short fat heavy boat will be close to '1' while a really long light slippery boat will be at the other end of the scale.
All this jiggery-pokery with numbers tells me how fast the water will be moving in relation to the boat, and by applying a slippage factor appropriate to the oar type, about ten to twelve percent for the narrow blades I use, I can work out the length of shaft needed to move the blade at the right speed when the handle is stroked through 700 mm 25 times per minute! There are other factors and variables, but this will give you a fair idea of the process, and will get you within adjustment range of the right figure in any normal boat.
Where the handle should be as you pull the oar through is a subject of some contention among rowers. Those who have experience in single sculls (the 'flying toothpick' school of rowing), tend to prefer the grips to be cross-handed or overlapping, even on the pull. I cannot see an advantage to this, and prefer to have the handles half-overlapped on the recovery only; this leaves the handles far enough apart on the pull to get my thumbs around the inboard ends of the handles to change the grip to give the palms a rest and reduce the chance of blistering.
Another way to help the blistering issue is to use one of the specialist adhesive bandages sold to the long-distance running fraternity. I use the Spenco(tm) brand, applied over the entire palm and up to the second joint of the first two fingers only. I make sure that the movement of the hand is perfectly free, and replace it every two days when cruising; the stuff sticks like the proverbial to a blanket, and breathes well so there is no problem with the skin underneath.
I've tried all of the normal cures, including denatured alchohol , gloves, and vitamin E cream (I drew the line at urine!), but have found the specialist sticking plaster the best cure yet.
My Mum told me when she learned to row on the Thames in the 1930s they used to harden their hands by rubbing alum into them. It's practically impossible to get these days. I think it must kill rats if they are hit repeatedly with a block of the stuff.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Solent Galley

Langstone Cutters, based in Chichester Harbour, celebrated the new year by trying out one of Britain's less well-known small boat types, the Solent galley.
Solent galleys were built for racing in Portsmouth Harbour and the surrounding area. They are 30ft long, with four oars and a cox. They are light, slim and fast, although they use fixed seats.
The late Pat Sherwin worked tirelessly to preserve the few examples remaining, establishing a trust in his will to own and operate two galleys built by George Feltham in Old Portsmouth in 1961. The trustees hope to achieve this by lending them to local clubs.
Two boats were brought to Langstone, the Solent galley Sallyport and a lovely little pair called Jubilee.
Both were a joy to row as well as a delight to the eye. Sallyport got praise for holding her way instead of coming to a shuddering halt between strokes, as fibreglass boats tend to do.
Unfortunately they were both rather small for this oversize rower, but that's life I suppose. Lots more pictures here.

John Welsford on cruising rowboats

New Zealand designer John Welsford is best known for his seaworthy cruising sailboats such as the Navigator, but he has also designed rowing boats that can be taken offshore. His Joansa is particularly attractive - and a tough lady as can be seen in the picture.
John is an advocate of fixed seat rowing in a world that has become obsessed with sliding seats (I blame Redgrave - everyone wants to do what the heroes do). But shell boats are like sports cars, great for high speed dashes but when you want to tour the world their inability to cope with anything other than flat water, unreliability and absence of anywhere to pack a toothbrush start to show.
So what makes great touring rowing boat? John has very kindly slipped this blog a chapter from his upcoming book on boat design, which is packed with wisdom gained from years of touring under oars. Here is an extract in which he discusses the ideal dimensions of a cruising rowboat.
Cruising in a rowing boat is a lot like wilderness backpacking afloat: a way of visiting the coast's less populated spots, some of which are remarkably close in to the big cities and not accessible from the road, and a way that returns rewards far beyond the modest resources required. It offers the rower an unequalled experience of the shore and there are many places that are as yet quite undisturbed, a large proportion of which are inaccessible to bigger craft.
Note that this essay does not include sliding seat rowing boats, and while much of the information does apply to them, I am not an enthusiast of sliders for recreational rowing for lots of reasons including cost, seaworthiness, maintenance and physical stress, its entirely practical to row a fixed seat boat for days on end and to cover a good distance in all sorts of conditions.
In selecting, building, or - for the brave - designing a touring rowing boat, serious consideration must be given to the boats ergonomics, how she fits the rower. By that I mean that the boat's seat, footrests and rowlock layout should suit the build, suppleness and strength of the rower. For example, for someone a little older and perhaps a little stiff in the hips or lower back, it helps to have the seat at least 200 mm (8in) higher than the heels of the footrests. A fitter, more supple person might be able to tolerate a lower seat, and gain a little stability from the lower centre of gravity, but I use the 200 mm as a standard height for the touring boats that are my main interest.
In a boat intended for open water, the footrests should be at least 400 mm (16in) apart. This applies to sliding-seat boats as well as the fixed-seat boats you see here. The habit of putting the footrests close together is, to my way of thinking, a regrettable one that comes from the skiffs or shells that are too skinny to do otherwise. It is a major handicap when the boat is being rolled about in a seaway, with the feet wider apart the well-braced rower can control the upper body position, and will find it much easier to keep rowing when the going gets rough.
Positioning the rowlocks is also very important. After much experimentation I now place the rowlock pin 325 mm (13in) aft of the rear edge of the seat, and 220 mm (8 3/4in) higher. To set the relationship between the seat, rowlocks and footrests, the oars should be roughly straight across when the elbows are just ahead of the ribs with the rower sitting dead-straight upright and feet firmly on the footrests. This fits me, I am of medium height, slightly short in the leg and long in the arms ( no comments from the cheap seats please) and some adjustment will be required to fit people of other proportions.
Just a point: rowing without footrests is not much fun - it leads to sore backs, sore butts, and not much progress for the energy expended!
A boat intended for open water rowing, recreational or racing, depends on length for its speed. Typically the successful designs are between 4.5 m (14 ft 8in) and 5.8 m (19 ft) long, with a beam of between 1.2 m (4ft) and 1.4 m (4 ft 8in) at the gunwale to provide a good spread between the rowlocks. She will be quite narrow at the waterline to reduce drag, and will be as light as possible, consistent with the technology available to the builder and the manner in which she will be used (or abused).

More tomorrow....