Wednesday 30 April 2008

Joe Dobler's Marietta rowing yawl

One of the big drawbacks of Cornish pilot gig racing is the cost of the boats, which are traditionally-built of elm on oak. The bill is likely to be well north of £15,000 plus the oars, trailer, cover and so on.
Which makes the late Joe Dobler's design for a 23ft 6in pulling boat, the Marietta Yawl, particularly attractive for coastal rowing clubs on tight budgets.
Dobler designed it for a club in Marietta, Ohio, that wanted to give schoolkids that could not afford access to racing shells the chance to row. Apparently, the term yawl was used to describe the workboats carried by Mississippi steamboats.
Dobler redesigned the yawl for stitch and glue plywood construction, creating a very light but strong structure. The flat bottom makes it very easy to build, the idea being that schoolkids could build their own boats as projects, then race them.
The standard crew is four rowers and a cox, but it could have up to four scullers or even, I suppose, the Cornish ran-dan of two oarsmen and two scullers.
The design shows thole pins and oars with round looms, but if square rowlocks were fitted a club could get a set of wooden oars cheap from a rowing club that had converted to kevlar. This would have the added advantage that the children could be taught to feather their oar, making it easier for them to transfer to shells if they wanted to take up rowing seriously.
It is a great looking boat. With offshore rowing getting very popular here in the UK, we could do with a boat that is fun to row and race but simple and cheap to build, and safe and stable in waters such as the Solent.
The plans are available on Duckworks, which has lots of photos of the boat in action as well.

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