Saturday 30 August 2008

Converting Canoes for Rowing

Hi Chris.
At last, I've found a website committed to non competitive rowing!
My interest in recreational rowing started when I purchased an 'Old-Town' drop-in rowing seat for my open canoe. With a pair of seven and a half foot long oars the canoe was considerably easier to propel through the water than with a single paddle. It also felt a lot safer, especially in rougher water.
Whilst the drop in seat was extremely comfortable to sit in it was very awkward to transport. The one piece fibreglass seat measured about 54 inches across by about two and a half feet depth and took up the whole of the back seat of the car. After a season's use I sold it on as I was sailing my canoe rather than rowing it.
Now my interest in rowing has returned and and I'm looking for a drop in rowing seat for my open canoe again. This time I would like a rowing seat that is more compact or even collapsible. I'd even consider a sliding seat rowing rig, though I've never actually rowed with one. I would be very grateful if you could advise me of any suitable rowing rigs, especially products that can be purchased in G.B.
I particularly like your 'Sprite' rowing skiff. Are the rowing outriggers attached to your boat homemade? They look rather flimsy but I suppose they must be strongly constructed. In your Sprite, are your feet strapped in? If not, how does your sliding seat work effectively.
I am based in the small town of Newburgh on the south shore of the tidal Tay estuary between Perth and the village of Wormit. I do hope you can answer some of my questions.
Stuart Sutherland

Hi Stuart,
Glad that you like the blog!
First off, I have to say that I have never rowed a canoe so this is all theoretical, but there seem to be several ways forward. You could get a Piantedosi 'Scout' rowing rig. It seems to be well made and will make your canoe go very fast, but it is expensive and will take up most of the back of your car when not in the canoe.
Take a look also at the EZ Row, a rig with cranked oars so you can row facing forward. Unfortunately that is expensive too and I doubt whether the system will allow much speed.
At the other end of the scale, the designer Jim Michalak suggests sitting on a simple box. You would have to shape the bottom to match the bottom of the kayak, and perhaps add a couple of studs to the bottom of the kayak to keep it in position, but it would take up far less space in the car as well as being cheap.
The riggers on my Sprite came with the kit from Seabird Boats. They are made of stainless steel tube and may look flimsy but are actually very robust. I've never had any trouble with them. The boat came with a strap that goes round the stretcher (footrest) and attaches round the feet with velcro, but the original one came off and I discovered that the friction between my ankles and the stretcher is enough to bring me forward as long as I don't try to do it too fast. I will reinstate the strap when I get round to it.
I hope that answers your questions.
All best wishes, Chris

Does anyone have any better ideas for converting canoes into rowing boats?

1 comment:

Jeff Baker said...

Hi Chris and Stuart,
We can supply a 'drop in' sliding seat for you canoe, which our Sprite rowing skiff is supplied with, as a finished unit. This is bolted to frames within the Sprite itself. For use within a canoe, you could fit frames at the appropriate spacing to allow the seat to be easily removable for transport/storage. The outriggers are also components we offer individually and can be used on a variety of craft.

Jeff Baker,
SeaBird Boats.