Friday 23 December 2011

Slow Rowing

This should be the worst rowing boat ever. She is short, fat, flat-bottomed and has a 'bow' that is even wider and blunter than my Simbo. Rowing should be a mighty pain, taking huge amounts of effort to get nowhere in a very long time.
But for Water Dancer's builder, Thomas Mauer in Pennsylvania, she is the best rowing boat ever. As he relates in an article in the brilliant online boating magazine Duckworks, she is great for fishing from, as a base for swimming and as a picnic table (as shown in the picture).
The design is the Puddle Duck Racer (PDR), a sailing boat for youngsters designed to be as much fun as an Optimist at a tiny fraction of the price. The box shape makes it easy and quick to build, and she sails well because it forms a V in the water when heeling. But she was not designed to row.
Thomas's big discovery is that you can often go out under oars when sailing is impractical, and that a wide, stable boat is great for a lot of things that aren't rowing, such as fishing, birdwatching and picnicking.
I have discovered this recently. My sliding seat skiff Snarleyow (pictured in the masthead) is not getting used as much as she used to be, because I like doing the stuff that you can't do in a boat so narrow you can't let go of the oars without risking a sudden immersion.
There are always times, of course, when nothing will hit the spot except a fast and furious bash round the harbour in Snarleyow. For all those other times, a boat designed for comfort rather than speed is what I need. 
Slow Rowing? Yes please!

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