Friday 30 September 2011

Smallest Ocean Rowing Boat?

Master Boatbuilder and Photographer Chris Perkins got a surprise visit from an American oarsman a few weeks ago, wanting to see the secret project (teaser pic right).
His visitor, Chris Duff, had just been forced to abandon a row from Scotland to Iceland in a 19ft rowing skiff bearing a strong resemblance to my own Sprite skiff, Snarleyow.
In fact, it is based on a Merry Wherry Two, a stitch and glue kit made by Wayland Marine in Washington State. Chris added cabins front and rear to make a sort of miniature version of the thing Matt Craughwell plans to row the Indian Ocean in.
Now, I am a huge admirer of the seaworthiness of my Sprite, but I really wouldn't fancy having to sleep in that forecabin in the open ocean. Chris is not totally mad, however, as he did not attempt his ocean crossing in the challenging weather of this summer despite being clearly psyched up for it. His fascinating reports are here (including the great pic by Ken Nicol).
The boat is now hanging in the roof of a cowshed near Ullapool awaiting better weather next year.
At Wayland Marine, however, the idea of an ocean-going skiff has taken root, and they are offering a kit of a similar sort of thing, called the Merry Expedition, with a snug cabin at the front, a storage cabin at the back and a self-bailing cockpit for good measure. It will be interesting to see if the idea takes off.

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