Mark Wallace's Black Skiff

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Basic Breakfasts for Oar Cruising

See Nutrition for the Rower in this blog for nutritional information for extended rowing.

Following are five basic breakfast menus. These are NOT gourmet breakfasts… but they are edible. They are designed specifically to require minimal time (and utensils) to prepare during the cruise, yet provide the calories needed.

Some of the ingredients can be mixed and matched to provide some variety. For example, virtually all of the freeze dried fruits can be used with any of the cereal options.

Note that the combination of ingredients in each breakfast menu below almost completely fills a 16 ounce vacuum canister. Therefore be careful of ADDING ingredients (such as dried fruit) without doing a corresponding VOLUME REDUCTION of another ingredient. Or use a bigger vacuum canister.

Suggested equipment/materials needed for preparation at home:

Used to Measure Dry Ingredients

Gallon Freezer Bags: One per Day of Cruise for Meal Bags and Snacks
Quart-Size Bags (3) per Day for Meal Dry Ingredients

You will also need a permanent marker to identify each food bag. Note that 'freezer' bags are much sturdier than 'storage' bags.

Suggested equipment needed for the night before eating the breakfast:

One or two 16 Ounce Vacuum Canister This Model Includes a Folding Spoon

Note: All of the following menus assume you are using ONE 16 oz vacuum canister

Jetboil Stove System or the Equivalent


Use of a camp stove that is NOT gimbaled can lead to really serious burns due to unexpected rocking of the boat. Make sure that the stove is secure and that the pot is securely attached to the stove or is suspended. And lastly, position yourself and the stove such that if it does spill, it doesn't spill on you.

Equipment needed at meal time:

16 Ounce Vacuum Mug for Mixing and Drinking Coffee, Cocoa, etc.

Oatmeal Hot Breakfast (560 calories and 8 oz water)

Quaker Oats or Equivalent, NOT Instant nor Quick Cook

Two Examples of Freeze Dried Fruits

Preparation at home:
Mix following together:

  • 1cup of Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal (300 calories)
  • ¼ cup of dried fruit/nut mix (260 calories depending upon fruit/nuts used)
  • Pinch of salt

Mark bag: “Breakfast-Oatmeal-1 cup boiling water”.

Night before eating the breakfast:

  • Heat 16 ounce vacuum canister with 2 cups boiling water for 10 minutes with top on
  • Prepare 1 cup of boiling water (1:1 ratio of water to oatmeal)
  • Empty canister of ‘heating’ water (save for washing, coffee, tea, cocoa…)
  • Immediately add dry mix topped with 1 cup of boiling water to canister, close tightly, shake and store on side.

At breakfast:

Open and eat.

Farina Hot Breakfast (440 calories and 10 oz water)

Farina AKA Cream of Wheat

Or Any Other Dried or Freeze Dried Fruit

Preparation at home:

Mix following together:

  • 1/3 cup of Farina (260 calories)
  • ¼ cup of raisins (130 calories)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ Tsp cinnamon

Add two packets of UNOPENED honey to the bag, to be opened at breakfast time (50 calories).
Mark bag: “Breakfast-Farina-1 & 1/3 cups boiling water-save honey”.

Night before eating the breakfast: 

  • Heat 16 ounce canister with 2 cups boiling water for 10 minutes with top on
  • Prepare 1 and 1/3 cups of boiling water (4:1 ratio of water for thicker Farina)
  • Empty canister of ‘heating’ water (save for washing, coffee, cocoa…)
  • Immediately add dry mix topped with boiling water to canister, close tightly, shake and store on side.

At breakfast:

Open and stir in the two packets of honey and eat.

Wheatena Hot Breakfast (425 calories and 12 oz water)

Freeze Dried Fruit Exammples

Preparation at home:

Mix following together:

  • 1/2 cup of Wheatena (240 calories)
  • 1/3 cup of freeze dried blueberries (185 calories)
  • Pinch of salt

Mark bag: “Breakfast-Wheatena-1.5 cups boiling water”.

Night before eating the breakfast: 

  • Heat 16 ounce canister with 2 cups boiling water for 10 minutes with top on
  • Prepare 1.5 cup of boiling water (3:1 ratio of water to Wheatena)
  • Empty canister of ‘heating’ water (save for washing, coffee, cocoa…)
  • Immediately add dry mix topped with boiling water to canister, close tightly, shake and store on side

At breakfast:


Granola Cold Breakfast (745 calories and 8 oz water)

Quaker Granola or Equivalent

Powdered Non-fat Dry Milk

Preparation at home:

Thoroughly mix the following together:

  • 1.5 cups of Quaker Granola (630 calories)
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp, 2 ounces, 60 ml)  of low-fat dry milk powder (215 calories)

Mark bag: “Breakfast-Granola-1 cup cold water”.

Night before eating the breakfast: 


At breakfast:

Add 1 cup (8 ounces, 240 ml) cold water, mix thoroughly and eat.

Shredded Wheat Cold Breakfast (885 calories and 8 oz water)

Sugar Coated Mini-Wheats
Powdered Non-fat Milk

Or Any Other Dried or Freeze Dried Fruit

Preparation at home:

Thoroughly mix the following together:

  • 3 cups (65 biscuits) Kellogg’s Frosted Shredded Mini Wheats (540 calories)
    Note: if you are using the 16 ounce vacuum canister for your eating ‘bowl’, then crush the biscuits AFTER measuring, yielding 1.5 cups of the crushed cereal.
  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp, 2 ounces, 60 ml) of low-fat dry milk powder (215 calories)
  • ¼ cup of raisins (130 calories)

Mark bag: “Breakfast-Shredded Wheat-1 cup cold water”.

Night before eating the breakfast: 


At breakfast:

Add 1 cup (8 ounces, 240 ml) cold water, mix thoroughly and eat.

Beverage Options

  • Coffee. Starbucks instant coffee (“Via” brand)
    Two packets in 16 oz water (10 calories)
  • Gatorade Endurance Formula Thirst Quencher Powder
    1.25 tbsp in 16 oz water (64 calories)
  • Low-fat dry milk
    ½ cup in 16 ounces water (435 calories)
  • Cocoa
    6 tbsp in 16 oz water (60 calories).


He slid the hatch back, sat up… light breeze out of the Southeast… the morning star barely visible… black merging to grey in the east.  
He turned off the anchor light… unhooked the anchor sail (also his downwind sail) that was sheeted tight to a cleat on the after deck… wrapped it around the mast… aired out his sleeping bag by using the halyard to hoist it up the mast.
He dumped the contents of his “Tuesday” breakfast bag (Granola this morning) into the vacuum canister, measured 8 ounces of cold water and added it to the vacuum canister... screwed the top on tight, shook it and let it roll around on the floorboards to thoroughly wet out the powdered milk. 
He added 16 ounces of water to his JetBoil pot, turned it on high and dumped two packets of Starbucks Via “Italian Roast” coffee in his insulated steel mug. While waiting for the water to boil, he rolled up his sleeping pad and stuffed it in a waterproof bag along with the small pillow he used… changed into his ‘rowing’ cloths. Coffee water is ready! 
Poured the water into his steel mug… cooled off the JetBoil pot and stored the cooking system in his ‘food box’, sat back (using the foot rest as a back rest), ate his cereal and savored his coffee.  
He rolled up his aired out sleeping bag, stored it… pulled out his Tuesday snacks and four 20 ounce water bottles and put them in his ‘ready hammock’ suspended under the port deck… untied his oars and readied them in their locks… went through his mental checklist to ensure that everything was cleaned and stored in lockers or tied down. 
He pulled the anchor and tied it down on the fore-deck chocks, hanging the coiled anchor line under the starboard deck… and started the next 30 mile leg of his oar cruise with easy strokes...
We’d love to hear your favorite cruising breakfast options in the comments below.

In the next post we’ll present alternative ‘downwind' sails.

Friday, May 27, 2016

CATCH: More Sliding Seat Systems

Earlier this week, we posted a number of alternative sliding seat/rigger systems. Here are five more.

Fyne Boat Kits in UK offers this sliding seat system:

Sliding Seat System from Fyne Boat Kits


Denman Marine in Tasmania offers this sliding seat system:

Denman Marine Sliding Seat System


RowSurfer, located in Amsterdam, offers this sliding RIGGER system (seat is stationary and oar locks slide):

RowSurfer's Sliding Rigger System


X-Cat , located in Austria, offers in interesting forward-facing, sliding seat system with automatic feathering. Shown is the rowing system (which can be purchased separately) mounted on their catamaran rower. See a video of the X-Cat in action.

X-Cat Forward Facing Sliding Seat System


OarBoard, from Victoria, offer a sliding rigger system designed for SUPs (Stand-Up-Paddle). It could be adapted to oar cruisers.

OarBoard's Sliding Rigger System


Thanks to Justin Miller and Rick Thompson for identifying these additional commercial sliding seat systems.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sliding Seat/Rigger Options


Sliding seat/riggers enable you to use your leg muscles to row, as well as your back and arms, increasing the power of your stroke. This post is about various alternative systems that can be used.

Sliding SEAT systems enable the rower to move while the oarlocks are stationary.

Sliding RIGGER systems enable the rower to be stationary (in his/her location in the hull) while the oarlocks move. The advantage of the sliding rigger systems is that the weight of the rower is not shifting fore and aft with each stroke which can cause the hull to pitch. Sliding rigger systems are banned in formal races.

Sliding seat/rigger systems that include, in one unit, the seat, outriggers to hold the oar locks, rails for either the seat or the outriggers to roll on and foot braces are typically called “DROP-IN UNITS”. The unit can be detached from the boat, and the boat ‘converted’ to fixed seat rowing.

Sliding seat/rigger COMPONENT systems are custom made such that the various separate components (seat, outriggers, rails and foot braces) are independent and are stored in the boat.

If you intend to sleep in the boat AND you are considering a drop-in system, where will you store the drop-in unit while you are sleeping? The only solutions I’ve seen are to 1) design a custom component system in which the pieces can be separately stored and/or are a built-in part of the boat, OR 2) only use fixed seat rowing.

If you are looking for parts to make your own system, then one source is Latanzo.

Following is a wide variety of sliding seat/rigger options, divided into three categories:
1) Plans and Kits
2) Commercial systems
3) Custom made systems, both component and drop-in

Plans and Kits

Glen-L Sliding Seat System

 Glen-L has both plans and a hardware (only) kit for this system.


Colin Angus sells both plans and a kit for this sliding seat unit that he uses in his boats.

Colon Angus Sliding Seat System


Platt Monfort’s article contains plans for a  home-made drop-in sliding seat system based on a 1947 design, with ‘upgrades’ provided by Platt.


Kudzu Craft sells (only) the plans for this drop-in unit which can be customized to fit most boats.

Kudzu Craft Sliding Seat from Plans

Commercial Systems

Drop-in Sliding Rigger

Drop-in Sliding Rigger Unit from "Sliding Rigger"

Shown above is the end view and side view of their system. Note the very low profile, which would require the whole system to be raised in order to clear the gunnels of a typical oar cruiser.


Adirondack Rowing has a review of seven commercial drop-in sliding seat units which they sell.


Wayland Marine

RowWing by Piantedosi sold by Wayland Marine


Poseidon sliding seat system

Double Seat version showing only Foot Rests for the Forward Seat

Both a single and double version are available, and either system can be fully adjusted to fit rowers up to 6’ 6”.

The system can be mounted in virtually any boat because it is supported by two crossbars attached to ribs


Salt Pond Rowing

Wood Drop-in Sliding Seat Unit from "Salt Pond Rowing"


FrontRower(TM) is not a sliding seat nor sliding rigger system, but a rowing system that enables legs and/or arms to be used to row, while facing forward.

Custom Made Systems

Gig Harbor custom component system they use in their boats.

Example of a Wood Sliding Seat System from "Gig Harbor"

They sell units with both wood (as here) as well as fiberglass seats. Eight wheels keep the seat located properly (See Rick Thompson's comments below.)


Clovelly Sculls

Custom Component Sliding Rigger System for Their Boat


Home Made Sliding Seat System

I found this photo of a home-made, drop-in, sliding seat (only) unit.  The dowel under the seat runs through a piece of PVC pipe to limit movement only to fore and aft. There was no ‘builder’ information.


Custom (?) Drop-in Sliding Seat System

No builder information available.


Rick Thompson, (Welsford custom Walkabout, shown here) wrote to me describing his custom designed component sliding seat system. He included many pictures. Following is the text and pictures he sent me:

"1) Many slide seats use 4 wheels held in tracks. The problem with those is that the wheel edges rub on the sides of the tracks, that's how they stay in the tracks. The wheels need to be a hard material, sometimes metal, which can cause a rough and noisy ride. 
2) My first open water rowing boat (that got me started on this activity) was a Gig Harbor Whitehall. Gig Harbor [See Gig Harbor link earlier in this post] has a seat system that uses 8 wheels - 4 supporting the seat and 4 keeping it on the flat top track. I like this system, mine is copied and revised from that. The GH wheels are soft urethane, making for a very smooth slide. The seat is securely held, it would have to jump up above the side wheels to come off track. The 4 wheel systems can jump track easier, unless there is also an upper retaining track. 
3) My GH boat and the Walkabout have side seats, making a convenient place to run the tracks. The Walkabout side seats curve upward at bow and stern, I just made my tracks to follow the curve and the slide seat works fine. The seat can easily be lifted out to make the center of the boat clear. The drop in seat units like Piantedosi or Angus can be added to boats with no side seat, but they are not quick to remove. 
4) If you look at the "Wheel Detail" tab on the GH page, you can see that they make their own wheel bearings from plastic parts. I have heard that these work well and have crossed oceans. I used standard skate board wheels and bearings which are readily available. The bearings can be found in stainless and even in ceramic. I used stainless, but re-packed them with heavy waterproof marine grade wheel bearing grease. They have not needed any service in over 2000 saltwater miles so far. 
5) My gray rafting seat is a little unusual. I have it angled backward by 12 degrees to better accommodate slide rowing geometry. It is very comfortable, even for a week of extended cruising. The low back part could interfere with layback, but I don't use much layback [for the ‘catch’] so it is not a problem.

[I asked Rick for the source of the seat he uses.]

This is what he uses.

Seat Rick Thompson Uses 

Underside of the Seat Showing the Eight Rollers to Keep it Aligned

Foot Rests of the Custom Component System

And a Close-up View

The Hinged 'Stop' Quickly Converts His Rig to a Fixed Seat Rig (Genius!)

In the next post, we’ll give you 5 breakfast menus you can use in your oar cruising expeditions.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Two SOF Candidates for Oar Cruisers

Dave Gentry designs beautiful, light, easily-built boats.

In correspondence with Dave, I mentioned that I wanted to
“…review/do analysis/opinion on various boats that either are row cruisers (RowCruiser for example) or could be used as is/converted into a rowed cruiser.”
After giving me permission to use photos and text from his site, Dave wrote back:
“I think the Gunning Dory, in particular, would fit the bill the best. In fact, that's what it was meant for, really, and that is certainly what the prototype is being used for.  I am considering building a version with either one or two enclosed shelters/cabins at either end, and calling it the Expedition Dory.”
Dave Gentry's SOF Chamberlain Gunning Dory
And the Framework for the Gunning Dory

The Dory is 18' 4” x 4' 8” (5.59m x 1.42m). She weighs between 120-150lbs (54-68kg). She certainly has the size and capacity (maximum recommended capacity is four adults (with gear)) to be a rowing cruiser for one or two people.

My concern is that there is a lot of windage and she could be easily blown off course, especially given her light weight.

Given her length, Dave’s idea of adding “one or two enclosed shelters/cabins” would make her very attractive for sleeping on board.

I wrote back to Dave:
“Actually, the boat I was considering reviewing was Ruth, but with much ‘decking’ and a cover for sleeping… my concern about the Gunning Dory is windage…I’d see Ruth as probably ideal… narrow bottom, high length to breadth ratio, light weight, low ends…”
Dave Gentry's Ruth
Ruth Framework

Dave wrote back expressing concern about the sides being too low for open water.

As set up, I agree. What if we added fore and aft decks as well as side decks (all made with fabric) along with a 2-3 inch (50mm-75mm) coaming, such as this model of a Michalak Larsboat converted to an oar cruiser?

Michalak's Larsboat Oar Cruiser Conversion

Dave wrote back:
“[adding side, fore and aft decks] would add some safety and reserve buoyancy, at the expense of cockpit space. Might work fine, though I still think the sides are too low amidships.”
Later, Dave added:
“Ruth is still my fav, and I row the original whenever I can.”

I agree, Ruth is one slick, fast rowboat, and with decks and a ‘tent’, I think she’d be a beautiful oar cruiser for coastal waters.

Ruth weighs 45lbs (21kg), is 18' x 33" (5.5m x 84cm), with a maximum recommended capacity of 350lbs (160kg).

Do you think Gentry’s Ruth, with decks and a removable ‘tent’, would make a good oar cruiser… why or why not? Please comment below.

The next post will focus on sliding seats/riggers, commercial and custom made.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Catch: Another Way to Change Gears

In the January post "Change Gears When Rowing?", six alternatives for how to adjust 'gear' (ratio of outboard to inboard length of oar) were presented. Chris Cunningham, in the April issue of Small Boats Monthly presented yet another way to control 'gear' when rowing.

"Thumb Buttons" to Control Gear on Oars
He put three of these buttons on each oar. The buttons are on the bottom of the leather when the oar is in the 'power' portion of the stroke. Included in the article is a video that shows how he changes gears while rowing without missing a 'stroke'.

(Text and photo used with permission from Chris Cunningham.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Catch: SOF Sealer

On Dave Gentry's site, scroll down to near the bottom for two videos. One on stitching a seam in a Skin On Frame boat and the second on applying PL Premium as an undercoat on the skin.

Since PL Premium does not have UV protection, it must be covered by paint. As Dave states, the PL Premium "never cracks, peels or abrades off". In private conversation with him, he also told me it does NOT bleed-through the cloth and therefore not affect the inside color of the cloth (which paint on the outside of the skin will affect).

I intend to use it on a Wee Lassie that I'm building. I'll let you know the results.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Boatyard

As noted in the recent post, A Substitute for Building Boats?, I use model building to help assuage the ‘need to build boats’.  Following are some of the results.


Bolger's Elegant Punt and Tortoise
The Elegant Punt is found in Bolger's Folding Schooner and Other Adventures in Boat Design. She is 7' 9" (2.36m) long. He includes in the plans a sprit rig with detachable leeboard. The model is scaled 1:12.

Tortoise is included in his book, Different Boats. The after deck enabled him to push the dinghy across ice and if it broke through, it would support his weight without his whole body going into the water. She is 6' 5" (1.96m) long and is scaled here at 1:12.


Bolger's Amesbury Skiff
Featured in Small Boats, this beautiful little (9' 6", 2.9m) skiff is a delight. Scaled here at 1:12, it is one of my favorite models. If I had a cruising sail/motor boat, I'd build this dinghy, calling it "Roo", and call the mother ship "Kanga".


Gavin Atkin's Oarmouse

Oarmouse is 14' (4.27m) long. She is a fast rower due to her "V" bottom, high waterline length to width ratio and light weight. The model is scaled 1:8.


Gaven Atkin's Oarmouse Converted to an Oar Cruiser
By adding decks, floorboards and hoops to hold a tent, the Oarmouse can be converted into an effective Oar Cruiser (for calm waters) that will be described in the June 12, 2016 post.


Two Concept Model Oar Cruisers Designed with Hulls Software

These two models are some of my early thoughts on Oar Cruisers. The upper one is a variation of Gavin Atkin's Oarmouse. The other is 12' (3.7m) long and "V" bottomed. I used "Hulls" to create the designs. Both models are scaled 1:16 (3/4" to the foot).


Another Concept Model Oar Cruiser with Downwind Sail

This concept model, also 12' long and scaled 1:16, includes a proposed downwind sail. The two 'booms' pivot on a single pin at the mast. By bringing the booms together and moving the mast to a second mast-step just aft of the aft coaming, the sail would be an 'anchor' sail to prevent the wild yawing that occurs with small boats anchored with one anchor in windy conditions.


Bolger's "Minimum Kayak"

Phil Bolger, in The Folding Schooner..., presented this 11' 5" (3.48m) long, flat bottomed kayak. He states the design " meant to be used in warm water, or if the water's somewhat cold, at least where it's smooth, shallow, and close to shore". He includes a picture of Harold Payson paddling this kayak, with the caption: "How does a commercial fisherman try a kayak? Nervously". 


Bolger's Thomaston Galley

In his book, Small Boats, Bolger presented his design for what he felt was the finest and most successful combination rowing, sailing and outboard powered boat there was. She is 15' 6" (4.7m) long, "V" bottom, with strong enough quarters to support sailing. The topsides are higher aft which enable a small outboard and two people to be supported at the transom without swamping. The design includes a high peaked sprit sail, loose footed. All spars stow in the boat to enable rowing. He stated he can row her at 3.5 mph for hours and sprint to 5.5 mph. The hull only model pictured is scaled 1:8.


Michalak's Larsboat Conversion to an Oar Cruiser

Jim Michalak based his Larsboat design on his Toto design by adding 2' 5" to the 13' Toto for a new boat that is the same width (30" 762mm) as Toto, but 15' 6" (4.7m) long. The conversion of Larsboat to an Oar Cruiser is described here. She can be rowed, paddled or sailed (downwind).


Michalak's Tween with Custom Decks and Chine Runners

I wanted to build a sailboat that could fit in my two-car garage, along with Ross Lillistone's Flint, my wife's car and my workshop. Given the overhead door and other considerations, the boat had to be less than 8' (2.44m). I first considered Storer's OzRacer (see below) and then Michalak's Tween. Based on the plans, I built this model scaled 1:8, adding fore and aft decks and 6" (152mm) wide chine runners. I used a Storer style holstered rudder and air tanks at each quarter under the decks.

I built the boat, but chickened out using the chine runners (I wish I hadn't... I now think they would have worked... at least it would have been worth a try). I used a single leeboard as Jim designed, added side decks that flare outside of the gunnels (similar to what John Welsford did with his Kiwi Duck). These side decks work very well and I'd do it again. I use a push-pull tiller rod attached to a yoke on the rudder head. I will change this back to a standard tiller... I just can't get 'automatic' with the steering as I am with a standard tiller. The 'holstered' rudder works well, including adding a 'plate' on the bottom of the rudder blade as well as a corresponding 'plate' on the bottom of the holster. I don't know if the latter helps in steering... it seemed like a good idea at the time and causes no problems. Rather than use the lateen rig that Jim suggests (I made the spars according to Jim's dimensions, wrapped in braided biaxial fiberglass sleeving from Duckworks, but they were much too heavy in my opinion), I used a standing lug rig, which works well.

The Full-sized Tween, as Described Above


Mik Storer's Oz Racer

This a a model of Mik's Oz Racer. Rather than use side tanks as he specifies, I used end tanks and I used a leeboard rather than a center board. Other than these two changes, the model (scaled 1:8) copies the plans.


Michalak's Vireo Converted to an Oar Cruiser

Jim Michalak's 12' (3.66m) Vireo is a "V" bottom (no immersed chines with one person) row boat that is very easy to row and very stable. The conversion to an oar cruiser is detailed here. The concept model pictured here is scaled 1:8.


Michael Storer's Quick Canoe Converted to an Oar Cruiser

The conversion of Mik's Quick Canoe to an Oar Cruiser is described here. She is 15' 6" (4.7m) long and 33" (830mm) wide at the gunnel. She would be very fast (and tender) oar cruiser. The model is scaled 1:8.


Bolger's Japanese Beach Cruiser

Ever since I first saw this beach cruiser in Bolger's Boats with an Open Mind, I wanted to build it. For various reasons, I didn't. But I did make the model. The design is in metric, but I converted it to Imperial and built it 1:12 scale. Other than the hatches and seats, the model is according to plans. The Dutch style leeboards really are this big!

That is my model boatyard. I hope you've enjoyed the walk-thru...

In the next Sunday post, we'll present two SOF boats that could make good oar cruisers.