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April 1, 1999 Issue

April 15, 1999 Issue

April 1, 1999 Issue

Canoes as Forward- Facing Rowboats

By Ron Rantilla

The Frontrower is a great new way of using muscle power to propel a boat. The power generating capability and the exercise quality are comparable to rear-facing sliding seat sculling, but it is more efficient and easier to use. And it goes forward instead of backwards, so you can have the pleasure of seeing where you are going. The Frontrower's oars are mounted on an uprigger at the center of the boat, and this design limits the width of the boat to 3' or less. Some boats that can be used are: a general-purpose tandem canoe; a touring shell, such as an Alden Ocean Shell, a kayak with a large open cockpit, such as a Klepper Double; and a custom-built narrow-beamed rowboat, such as a Firefly.

What's the best choice? For most people, we recommend a general purpose tandem canoe. Consider the purposes for which a Frontrower equipped rowing boat may be used: regular exercise; recreation; special interests such as bird-watching, photography, or fishing; wilderness traveling and camping; and coastal touring. For almost every purpose, the canoe is better suited than the other choices. A touring shell is faster, but unless you are racing you won't notice the difference. But you will notice the greater stability and cargo carrying capacity of the canoe. A canoe is heavier than a touring shell. Once in the water, weight is not a problem, but on land it could he. Using a trailer or a boat cart can solve this problem.

Almost everyone has paddled a canoe and knows what this is like. But what is rowing a Frontrower equipped canoe like? Here's how Frontrowing (solo) compares with tandem paddling:

Many people who are considering rowing have a wish list that looks something like this:

An ordinary general-purpose tandem canoe fitted out with a Frontrower can fill these needs perfectly. A canoe of between 15' and 17' in length, 30" to 36" in beam, and 12" to 14" center depth is ideal. A lake-type canoe with minimal rocker is best.

How to Set a Canoe Up for Frontrowing

To set a canoe up for solo rowing, you want to position the Frontrower so that the weight of the operator and gear aboard is slightly aft of the centerline.

This means that you are going to have to remove the center thwart or cross beam. This beam is an important part of the structure, so you will need to compensate for its removal with additional bracing. The easiest thing to do is to install two additional thwarts, one 32" in front of the center thwart, and one 32" behind it. Do this before you remove the center thwart, so the canoe will maintain its original shape. Now you have enough room in the center of the canoe to install the Frontrower. Nine inches of open space is needed in front of the Frontrower, so install it as far aft in this space as possible.

The resilient rubber mounting pads on the Frontrower take up the irregular shape of the bottom of the canoe. Gravity will hold it in position for trials, but to keep it in place mounting brackets should be permanently glued to the bottom of the canoe floor. Two mounting brackets with threaded holes receive the hold-down screws at the front and rear of the Frontrower. This allows easy installation and removal of the rowing system for storage and transportation. Thickened epoxy works well for gluing the brackets to most fiberglass hulls.

The Frontrower is available from Aquamotion Systems, 30 Cutler St., Warren RI 02885

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April 15, 1999

The Seaclipper 16 Two-Person Sailing Trainer and Daysailer

by John R. Marples

Since the introduction of the very popular Seaclipper 10, many people have asked for a two-person version. Now, here it is. The same crew comfort and gear arrangement are now offered in two cockpit positions. As a family boat, young children can be seated in one cockpit, while a parent handles sails and steering from the other. The natural stability of the trimaran configuration adds to the enjoyment and safety of the experience. The basic boat is equipped with mainsail only, the spinnaker is optional. Sail and rudder controls are positioned in both cockpits. The bolt-together assembly takes little time to prepare the boat for sailing while on the trailer. Docking fees are avoided by storing the boat at home.

Sailing the Seaclipper 16 will be fun for all. Speeds of 6 to 7 knots are easily achieved in 10-knot winds. With only one crew aboard speeds in excess of 10 knots are possible. The kick-up centerboard and rudder allow easy operation from the beach (if there are no waves). Camping cruising would be the ultimate use for the 16, since it has enough stowage for a week's supplies. Otherwise, it is ideally suited to afternoon romps around the bay or informal races with other boats. Make sure you bring sunscreen and beverages, because you'll want to sail all day.

The construction is simple plywood and lumber, all available from the local lumberyard. It takes 3 sheets of 1/8" (doorskin) plywood, 13 sheets of 1/4", and 1 sheet of 1/2" The lumber pieces are all standard sizes, in eluding '4 x 4' softwood main crossbeams. The crossbeams (akas) have l/8" plywood fairings added for shape. The hulls are constructed upside down on a simple ladder-type strongback in a conventional plywood on frame format. All parts are glued with marine quality epoxy and fastened with small nails or staples.

The exterior is sheathed with 4-oz. fiberglass cloth and epoxy, then painted for a durable exterior finish. The mast is laminated wood, planed round, and varnished. Most joints are made with epoxy fillets to avoid the need for accurate fits between components. The booklet, Liquid Joinery, is included with the plans to explain the use of epoxy and all the tricks associated with making quick and beautiful joints.

The plans contain full-sized patterns for all bulkheads and other components. A total of eight working drawings show all parts as well as a logical building sequence from start to finish. The outfitting list gives part numbers for popular hardware components. The finished cost target is $2000 for the basic boat with mainsail, and about $500 extra for the spinnaker and gear. Prices will vary depending on finish and hardware quality. The build time is estimated at 200 hours or two to three months of serious part-time effort. The design fee of $150 includes plans, patterns, and booklets, along with consultation with the agent or designer to insure successful completion of the project.

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