Alden 16 : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread

would like opinions about the alden 16 or 18 (rigged for single) for open water expeditions similiar to what a sea kayak might do--multi day, big water, e.g. Pacific N.W.--thanks

-- walt weinberg (, April 05, 2002


A limitation of both is the large open cockpit, vunerable to swamping. Care and discretion in choosing when and where to row could mitigate this to some extent.

The 18 would be better from the standpoint of load capacity. Not much room for gear on a 16, and even with a modest gear load of say 40 lbs., it would put the 16 a bit low in the water.

-- Kim Apel (, April 08, 2002.

The A 16 has a capacity up to 190 lbs - probally not leaving too much room for gear. The A18 has been rowed to Alaska (see Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredson). There are other open water boats like wherries with much more capacity and seawortheness (see my site) or really bulletproof seaworthy kayak-like shells like the Ocean Rower (see Call me sometime to discuss @ 800-700-8059

-- Ron Mueller (, April 14, 2002.

The Alden 18 is EXTREMELY prone to swamping. Avoid it. The 16, on the other hand, is basically seaworthy if it's just you and your water bottle, but because the cockpit is configured so that any cargo must be stowed behind the rower, the boat becomes dangerously bow heavy if used to carry gear.

-- Kinley Gregg (, April 15, 2002.

I would totally agree with Gregg Kinley. I currently own an Alden 18 an row it rigged as a single. It's fine for a quiet morning on protected waters, but if you get into rough water expect to swamp. It's large cockpit is a real hassle especially when you do swamp with gear, you'd better have it all roped into something or it will float right out of the boat - it's happened to me more than once. The Alden surfs larger waves horribly! It tends to fall off the end of a wave, go sideways and take on water. I wouldnt think it's the best choice especialy in colder water. - Thats my 2 cents. I'm currently in the process of selling the boat now (I've had it for 3 yrs) I opted to build my own 17' John Welsford rowing dory. It's nearly complete and it only has taken me 3 months to build, and it's looking great. It will be much more seaworthy than the Alden. The main reason I chose to build is out of economy. The dory when alls said and done will probably have set me back $900, you could do it cheaper depending on materials. Plus I like the look of wood alot better than fiberglass..

-- Stephen Borghardt (, May 07, 2002.

I have not rowed an Alden Ocean Shell in open water, just on a lake; I have an Alden Star and row it on mostly calm water. I do know from some of my rowing and sailing friends experiences that these boats have swamped in rough conditions and with that large open cockpit, they are really full of water if that happens. Basically, self rescue is tough and in cold water, you are really screwed. A friend of mine picked up a women from a swamped Alden a few miles ofshore here in New Hampshire. She was out on a nice morning, but the waves kicked up in the afternoon, swamped her and she was afloat but unable to bail out. If he had not heard her calling (he was sailing), she would not have lasted much longer. Another friend is an accomplished rower and also swamped in the ocean under similar conditions. Picked up by a fisherman. Close call. You should read the relatively new book," Rowing to Latitude" for the author's discussion of an open water boat. She used an Alden 18 with custom built in bulkheads to cut down on exposed open cockpit space and it was servicable. She and her husband eventually did a modification of a larger volume sea kayak that they took places you would not believe. The Alden is actually worrisome to me in that it is promoted as an open water boat, but with all that cockpit space, it is posible to swamp and not be able to bail it out. They should come up with a boat with full enclosure, really like the Alden Star, but wider. I have seen a boat called a Virus on the Web which is big, has an open transome so it can't swamp. While in Italy last month, I saw some fully enclosed boats which were sized like an Alden but fully enclosed. I couldn't see the maker's name. Good luck.

-- John Maull (, July 27, 2002.

I did own an Alden 16 and rowed on open sea in Saint-Malo (France). I think boat is to short and may be dangerous when she is full of water. Virus makes two types of boat : teh one named "yole" is far more too heavy to take pleasure to row, the other one called "skiff" is, as alden 16, to short. She keeps water too. You may consider the frech open water boats and have a look on following web sites : and Good luck.

-- Pierre Létang (, August 10, 2002.

I am currently designing a 'trailer' to be towed by an Alden Ocean Shell (16 or 18) in which to store camping gear.

Experience with the 18 on lakes in Sweden has taught me that an expedition is impossible with 2 scullers in the boat, and loading up a 16 would lead to an uneven distribution of weight. Hence this project.

I intend for this 'trailer' to be adaptable for kayaks and canoes. Any thoughts on this would be welcome.


-- Casper Gray (, February 21, 2003.

The new Echo from is unswampable and very easily self-rescued if capized! A new model is under development with fore/aft hatch access for row touring. Designed by Doug Martin who did the Alden Star. Very easily driven open water shell.

-- ron mueller (, November 12, 2003.

I've been looking at recreational shells for a couple of years and two weeks ago bought the Echo 18. It's quite stable and very dry thanks to a rolled-edge deck. Has a bailer built-in. Runs straight with a built-in keel. You can pull it up on the sand or on a dock without worrying about a skeg or fin breaking off. The folding riggers are ingenious. Impressive boat I'll have for years.

-- mark mattison (, June 18, 2004.

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