PFDs for dory rowing : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread


My new Oughtred Amberjack dory will be arriving from Nomad Boatbuilding in Vancouver BC in late May so I'm roaming around websites and chandler's shelves selecting all that neat new boat stuff. A couple of gear questions for the group: 1)I have a rather elderly PFD from kayaking days that is functional (and would give me that air of experience of course), but wonder if there might be a more comfortable design for rowing. Lots of newer low profile vests and inflatables around, but I have not used them. I'll be rowing in fairly open cold marine conditions around Glacier Bay AK. Any opinions on what features to avoid or choose? I would prefer 20 lb or more buoyancy. 2) is there a manual bilge pump you dory rowers like best? 3) has anyone made a "sprayskirt" for an open dory? Thanks very much!

-- Allison Banks (, May 11, 2004


PFD: I'm using the same one as I use for sailing, a "extrasport", resonably priced and comfortable. It's not a roll you upright if you are hit on the head type but its comfortable enough so that I wear it nearly all the time. And I think that is the key to any PFD. I also have friends who wear float coats but they tend to be a bit warm. And other friends who wear the inflatable one's that activate when you are in the water. They are nice but much more $$.

Bilge Pump: I have on order a Whale Gusher 10, it does 22gal.min at 60 pumps per minute. The plan is to mount it under the front seat so that the lever faces aft. A hose will lead straight down for water pickup and one to the side through a thru hull fitting. I also have a sponge and a scoop. The theory is that when you need a bilge pump you really need it. A 3 gal bucket also works well. I picked this brand and model because I've used it on past boats and it really moves the water out. Those tube shaped ones that look like a bicycle pump IMO aren't worth having. They don't pump enough water, they are slow and awkward and a milk jug with the bottom cut out, a spong and a 3 gal bucket do a better job for less $. On the other hand if you have floor boards perminately mounted its easier to cut a small round access hole and use the bicycle style pumps than it is to sponge the water out.

But my order is "backordered" at the manufacturer so who knows when I'll give it a sea trial in my dory. -Gary-

-- Gary Powell (, May 12, 2004.

Re: Spray skirt,

I have not made one but I have some observations. If you want a full one like a kayak, be sure that it has at least 3 parts to it, so that you can unzip yourself out of the middle on marginal & nice days and fish around for stuff inside the boat like lunch.

Second there needs to be some sort of support to keep it up in the middle of the sections and at the zipper part, like a sprung rod that bows up and that the skirt attaches to so that when a bit of blue water hits it, it withstands the pressure and tosses the water off to the side. You want the water to flow off even if the cover is soaked and not puddle up and eventually drip into the boat.

A sailboat cover maker should be able to make such a beast for you. Be sure that there are lots of easy to hook on grommets for the edges to spread the load. All the night covers I've ever used tore at these grommet tiedowns as that's where the load is.

Are you rowing to Alaska? If so there is a book about a couple who did the trip in '83. "Row to Alaska by wind and Oar" by Peter Ashenfelter. Might be something you'd like to read about.

-- Gary Powell (, May 12, 2004.

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