Want Info on Adirondack Guideboat vs Other Designs for Casual Rowing

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I am looking for a good rowing design for coastal/river rowing in SC/GA coastal areas; casual rowing(5-10 miles)/gunkholing, probably not racing. Boat needs to carry me (6'/220 lbs) and one passenger (up to same lbs range desirable). Gloucester Gulls seem a bit small to me for this load; 17' Oarling (dory) and Bolger 19' stretched dory might be OK. Mainly looking at dories plus following three designs: Rossiter Loudon (stable, but heavy), Adirondack Guideboat (Kaulback kevlar model; light, but maybe tippy?), and St Lawrence skiff(s) (stable/heavy); would consider others not mentioned. Car-topping and beach launching capabilities would be plusses, but not absolute requirements. None of these boats appear to be available to see/test in SC or GA, so must decide (and buy or build) from info alone. Anyone have suggestions and reasons for choices? Thanks for any help.

-- William Hahn (hahnw@SavState.edu), January 17, 2002


Traditionalists turn up their noses, but I removed the center thwart and put a drop-in rowing rig in a long, performance-oriented canoe and was very pleased with the results. There are probably 30 canoe models available that could fit your criteria. Longer models are better: 17.5 ft. and up. I'd favor fiberglass over plastic, but either could work. There's likely to be a Wenonah or Mad River canoe dealer somewhere in your area (they also have good websites). They build a wide variety of high-quality models. The advantages of light weight can hardly be overstated. Canoes are 40-70 lbs., depending on how much you're willing to spend for the option of high-tech composite materials like Kevlar. If you want to build, look at kits from Chesapeake Light Craft. Thay have several models suitable for rowing.

-- Kim Apel (kapel@fullerton.edu), January 18, 2002.

Look at some whitehall boats. Check ouy Walter Baron's Old Wharf Dory Company in Wellfleet Massachusetts. Row with your local rowing club a bit before committing youself to a boat. As Capt. Pete Culler said, "All whiskey has it's place

-- Capt. Rehab (bdonahue@capecodvoice.com), January 18, 2002.

Hi William, I row a Kaulback wooden guideboat and can tell you they are a dream to row and very stable too. I've had it in some really rough water. I've rowed the kevlar version too and it has the same feel as the wooden boats. I car top it everywhere. Very easy on and off the car. I'm 6-4 200lbs and have rowed the boat with someone my size. With two in the boat the rower moves to the foward rowing station and the passenger sits in the rear seat and can help out with a canoe paddle. Hope you get some sort of rowing boat and are soon out on the water enjoying the sites of the Georga-South Carolina coast.

-- Paul Neil (rowbooboo@aol.com), January 20, 2002.

Dear William,

The May/June, 1996, issue #130 of WoodenBoat Magazine contains an article by Robert W. Stephens on the Adirondack Guideboat. It is the best, most honest and concise article I've ever seen on this craft. You can reach WoodenBoat for a back issue at www.woodenboat.com. Good Luck


-- Andre de Bardelaben (middlepath@aol.com), January 26, 2002.

I would recommend the St. Lawrence River Skiff. I have been rowing them up in Alaksa for 15 years. My first, a 19' single was a dream and I covered about 1800 miles of Inside Passage and Gulf of ALaska rowing with that over the years. Graduated to a 22' double (For Sale) that I have used for 6 years that I row and sail in the same waters. These boats row well and carry a good load. This proven design make for nice touring and day-tripping.

-- PJ McKay (max@alaska.net), February 21, 2002.

William: I'm another St. Lawrence River Skiff nut, but clearly there are other good boats as others have suggested above. You might want to talk to a very knowledgeable rowing boat builder down in your neck of the woods by the name of Robb White in Thomasville, GA. Switchboard.com gives a phone number of 229-377-8822. Most importantly, get a boat and get out there soon. It is the best. Keep Pullin' John Mullen

-- John Mullen (mullendallas@aol.com), February 25, 2002.

My wife and I own and row a 19ft Bolger stretched dory. It is our third dory (the first was an Arno Day boat now sadly resting on the roof of the Weathervane restaurant, the second was a Gloucester Gull) and we are just thrilled with it. It rows like a dream with one or two rowers, very fast, beautiful to look at, and safe in the nasty stuff. My only complaint is that it has a tendency to round up in heavy wind, which all boats of this type seem to do. Our boatbuilder was Dennis Hansen of Spruce Head, ME. He did a beautiful job, and reasonably. Couldn't be happier.

-- phil frassica (frassica@sover.net), September 26, 2002.

Coastal vs River rowing are really two ends of the spectrum if you are planning on being in any real current. River boats tend to be wide and very shallow draft. This allows them to turn in the current, and pass over rocks etc without presenting much area for the current to grab and take you downstream. A coastal boat has more draft, and thus a narrower bottom, so that when the wind kicks up, the boat won't be blown around because the water is holding on to it.

I'm a Swampscott Dory nut, but I lean toward the coastal fishing vs the river stuff. I have rigged a pyramid anchor for my boat but I'm limited to the lower ends of the river where I'm not likely to hang up on a rock. -Gary-

-- Gary Powell (gwpowell@hotmail.com), May 21, 2004.

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