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I would like to get a boat that I can store outside and row off the beach in most conditions. My budget calls for a used boat. I have done some rowing in real shells but am looking for something more stable, maybe something with room for a passenger. Sliding seat a must. Any ideas on where to look for used boats online? in publications? I live in MA and would want to get something in this area.

Thank you

-- Ledyard McFadden (lmcfadden@schoolworks.org), April 11, 2000



Subscribe to Messing About in Boats if you want to lean about small boats. If you want a fast sliding seat boat you should look at Alden Shells. Also San Francisco has a rowing club that (if my memeory is correct) has sliding seat Whitehalls which are real boats of the bring along a friend variety. I don't know where the club is on the web but a search should locate them.

Why only sliding seats? You do get an important advantage and some speed but you also need to use a lot more space in the boat and you limit the numbers and types of hulls available.

Tom Hunter

-- Tom Hunter (zubian@shore.net), April 14, 2000.

LEDYARD: The two traditional boat rowing clubs in San Francisco are the Dolphin RC (a bit nose in the air) and the South Side RC (more laid back). They are side by side just east of the Maritime Museum. They have fleets of traditional wood skiffs, whitehall type mostly, and just about all of them are rigged sliding seat. My background is sliding seat racing shells, but I have just recently come to open-water fixed-seat skiffs, and I have no interest in going back. Consider a fixed seat narrow skiff and definitely take a passenger. The conversations that naturally come between the forward facing passenger in the stern and the fixed-seat rower are a real treat. What the hell, take the dog too.

-- John Mullen (mullen@connect.net), April 15, 2000.


As a member of the Dolphin Club, I may be just a little bit biased, but I don't think we're "nose in the air"! Check out our Web site at www.dolphinclub.org.

But John is right that we do have mostly Whitehalls rigged with sliding seats. Most are wood, but there's one made of fibreglass that's very seaworthy and nice to row -- and a lot lighter than the wooden versions. I'm not sure of the manufacturer, but there's an outfit in British Columbia called Whitehall Rowing & Sail that makes traditional-looking boats of fibreglass that can be rigged with a sliding seat unit. Their Web site is at www.whitehallrow.com. I have not tried their boats so this isn't a testimonial, but they've included a number of "love letters" from satisfied customers on their site. They also make a roller/track thing (in several versions) called a Beach Hauler which looks like a very handy gadget for someone planning to row off a beach.

By the way, this summer WoodenBoat magazine will be running an article about the Dolphin Club and our neighbor, the South End Club, and another article about the Dolphin Club's 40' 6-oared barge, the John Weiland, that was orginally built in 1887, hauled out in 1991 and rebuilt over a period of about five-and-a-half years, then re- launched in 1997.

-- Kathy McKinley (kmckin@aol.com), April 15, 2000.

Dear Ledyard,

You should at least consider the suggestions offered by John Mullen, a man with an extensive background in sliding seat rowing. Shells are very limiting in what you can do with them. Many entry level sliding-seat shells provide no more performance than the best fixed- seat rowing craft which are much simpler in their rigging and often cost less. For more than two decades I've been selling both fixed and sliding seat craft. Most go out equipped for both. Some of my clients continue rowing sliding seat for the sake of fitness. Sliding seat rowing gives a hard to beat all-body workout and its noticeable inefficiency causes rowers to burn more calories per hour or mile than with fixed. The ones who are into adventure rowing usually come to think of the sliding seat rig as an expensive accessory that interferes with their activities that mostly stays at home gathering dust. I've found that many in the sliding seat community are completely ignorant of the performance capabilities of the best fixed seat boats.


Andre de Bardelaben

-- Andre de Bardelaben (middlepath@aol.com), April 17, 2000.

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