What do you row and why

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Im throwing this one out because I am curious about other boats and I thought this would be a good way to learn.

I row a Merrimac River Screamer so named because its screamingly fast. In Spring of 1997 I had recently bought a house, relieved of all my cash but desiring a boat I was thinking of building a Gloucester Gull. To this day the Gull is only a thought.

I had raced a little, in borrowed boats that never went very fast. In my head I designed my ideal racing boat. About 18 long 3 or 4 feet beam, with a plumb bow, just enough rocker, clean lines and lightweight but not to the point of being fragile.

Accompanied by an absence of cash I went to the Maine Boat Builders show in Portland. I had never seen a boat exactly like what I envisioned so I was sure I would be safe even amidst so much temptation. I turned a corner and there was the boat in my head. I spoke to friends, complained that I did not have the money, tried my best to resist and lasted all of three hours. Thats how I got my boat.

I like the boat very much. She is fast, the design was built to win the Oarmaster that year. In fact the Screamer came in third but she still moves right along. In flat water with no breeze to speak of she finished the Blackburn Challenge in 4:02:32 which is a pretty good turn of speed. She is big enough so that I can take my wife on trips to islands in Maine or off the coast of Salem Mass. where we live. Because the boat moves right along I can get us there in an hour or two even if the destination is 6 or 8 miles away. On rivers or lakes I can take one or two more depending on how flat the water is. Finally she is built in a way that allows one to stretch out and take a nap which is my wifes favorite thing about the boat.

The boat takes the sea pretty easily. Ive only had problems shipping water once, in a race coming out of the Weir River in Hull. The wind was blowing pretty well and against the tide making a short steep chop in the 2 to 4 foot range. I had to crab a little so the bow was not pointed directly into the waves to avoid swamping. Several saner boats dropped out but I finished the race. I would never row in those conditions (the waves, not the wind) alone but a chase boat gives you courage. In larger rolling seas she floats like a duck and I am pleased with her sea keeping. That said I dont go looking for trouble and I know that she is not an all weather boat.

The boat is fixed seat and can be rowed single or double. I have a light trailer that I modified a little for a long boat and I can get her in and out of the water myself thought its quicker with two. She is 18 long and 42" beam with a plumb bow. Below the water she has a long skeg that makes her turn like a battleship but she tracks well because of it which is helpful in a following sea. She was designed by Doug Scott of Parker River Boat Works in Newbury Massachusetts. Doug did most of the building as well though I go in a fair amount of work on nights and weekends. I have been very happy with her though I cannot say that I have a lot of experience with other boats. I row the Screamer because she makes me happy and because she is the boat I have.

Tom Hunter

-- Tom Hunter (zubian@shore.net), April 16, 2000


Dear Tom,

Welcome to open-water rowing at the highest level. Doug Scott has long been recognized by those who've met him as an excellent craftsman, oarsman and all around nice guy. It's nice to see that people are gaining an appreciation for his considerable designing ability. The Screamer is a splendid example of, what I call, second generation modern open-water design. The Gloucester Gull is good example of the first generation, light, capable, easy to build and clearly not a workboat. The second generation boats are not only light and capable but fast. Doug's creation is special in that it gives more than a nod to proud boatbuilding and design traditions that I think are are so worth preserving. I'm happy for both you and Doug.


Andre de Bardelaben

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

Dear Tom, I row an 8' fiberglass dingy, because that is all I can afford, and has the coolest lines I've ever seen on a little boat. Wineglass stern, little skeg, very roundy and tender sides, deep bow and gunwale, 4' beam for an 8'LOA. I row with 8' oars that are light for their size, and rather meaty in diameter. The center thwart is the fixed seat, with an air cavity in the bow and one in the stern (which still allowed it to sink like a rock), so I have filled all three cavities with styrafoam via lidded access ports I installed (about 45 8" crab floats, some cut up). I will also continue to carry a boogie board in the floor (sort of like a flat lifeboat) to avoid really long swims.

I think boats should be pretty and not sink. Period. Every boat I studied from the OWR catalog (great to leave by the toilet), urged the question to whether they would fill and sink. I felt sure my boat would only sink to the rails, but it quickly went down to the bottom. I think this is a no-bull____ question every rower should ponder.

I would like to say that what is lost in a short waterline (speed), is made up in its ability to zip and dip in waves. Short and perkey, my but has been airborn before, at the top of rowing into the wave.

The accomodations are a bit frugal but liveable. I have built a deck out of 1/4" plywood (painted then varnished, wierd looks like aged fiberglass), with leg opening and a forward hatch. This will allow me to atempt sleeping in the boat. I actuall pitched my tent in the boat, and it fit like custom made. Just pull in, drop the anchor and yank up the tent (I shall soon find out)

Payload weight is my most awesome concern. I don't want to row a concrete culvert, but you need so many things, and the boat so small.

-- David Bean (bean2846@aol.com), April 22, 2000.

I row a 16' Swampscott Dory, made up for me by Gig Harbor Boatworks, in Gig Harbor, Washington. It is kevlar, with a bit of wood trim to give it a nice look. Sliding seat for rearward-facing rowing, and a trick rig Gig Harbor came up with for forward-facing rowing. It also is rigged for sailing, so it has a centerboard, and you can attach a rudder. You can't really easily rig it for sailing and rowing at the same time, as the sail rig is a bit overpowered, and gets in the way, though I've grown fond of using the centerboard when rowing.

I got this boat because it has an incredible cargo capacity, and is quite seaworthy. I live in the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound, and have hopes of using it for transportation, though most of my voyages have been short to date.

-- Brian Ehrmantraut (bae@alumni.princeton.edu), June 09, 2000.

Hi I row a shark river dory don't feel bad if you never heard of one becase I disign and build them myself. They are 20 feet long and have a 4 foot beam and are about 180 lbs . the fore,aft ,and side decks are.mahoganey with white seams kind of like the old chris craft speed boats and more coats of varnish than I care to count. My wife and I Love to pack up a bottle of wine some bread and cheese .row 4 or 5 miles and find a nice place to picnic.We also enjoy towing the boat to boat shows allover the east coast.We meet some of the nicest people that way philr@intac.com

-- phil reinhardt (philr@intac.com), October 16, 2000.

Hi Tom

Here's an answer to a Tom from a Tom sort of a Tom-Tom message! ha ha. I row and sail an 18th century replica ships Jolly Boat. It is 16' long and 6' wide with a draught of 18". People who see me row it think I'm having a hard time of it. I've even had guests try to help me row by pushing on the oars as I begin pulling. I tell them they can contribute much more by simply manning the tiller.

-- Tom Galyen (tagrev@aol.com), November 25, 2000.

Hi Tom I now row an Alden with a "Front Rower" attachment. I live on Cape Cod and row year round on Pleasant Bay. I love the "front rower" because I can see where I am going, get the exercise and fun of sliding seat rowing, and can easily launch and retrieve the boat. To launch, I simply back up my van to the water and slide the boat and "front rower" attached, into the water. To retrieve, I back the van up to the water, remove the front rower by unfastening the Alden spring clips, and put it in the van first. Then the Alden slides in sooo easily because I am lifting less than 20 pounds. All of this is important at age 73. The 'Front Rower" is an amazing device and beautifully built and engineered. I could also cartop this rig but it would not be quite as easy. I also row my Appledore 16 with the same rig but it is a heavier boat and I must work out a better way to launch and retrieve for the Appledore.I can row for as long as I want in either boat but I have to watch my back on lifting anything very heavy. This will happen to you, if you are not there yet, so plan ahead. Ed Rogers

-- Ed Rogers (paddloar@gis.net), December 09, 2000.

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