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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.

7 comments:

  1. 1. I have sailed and rowed a fiberglass Crawford Swampscott dory for over 25 years, including extensive cruising on the Maine Island Trail, but mostly in the waters around Portsmouth NH and down through Boston to New London CT. It is a mistake to think that low freeboard amidships is a problem in open water. When sailing heeled there may be less than six inches of freeboard, and in that quarter century I have taken water over the lee rail twice, and both those times were my own fault and easily avoided. Dories are all about reserve buoyancy. It is the hull shape that keeps the water outside, not decks. My dory, with zero decking is perhaps the driest sailboat I have ever sailed, with the exception of a friend's Herreschof Bullseye.

    2. Roger Crawford strongly advises against any decks and houses in his 450 pound Swampscott, because it raises the center of gravity. I think the effect in would be far worse in the light weight SOF Gunning Dory. In the picture she sits like a feather on the water. Any weight added high up would make her more tender. Dory stones would likely be in order for open water. Dories were built to be load carriers. But keep the load low.
    I rig a tent for cruising, sleeping on a platform resting on the thwarts, with all gear carried below the platform.

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  2. I agree with you regarding sea worthiness of the Swampscott dory. My concern with the Swampscott, as well as a traditional dory, is the windage when rowing. What is your experience when rowing her?

    Both Dave and I feel that adding decks, as long as they are 'skin' (polyester or nylon cloth) would not be a problem for stability.

    Do you have pictures you could send me (tomoarcruising@gmail.com) of the tent you use on your Swampscott. I'd like to include them in a forthcoming post on 'shelters' for open boats.

    Thanks,
    Tom

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  3. As someone who has plenty of time at the oars of a dory, I can add to your point about the windage.
    I was in a youth rowing group, we had four plywood dories that were built to a WWII coast guard plan. The designer had taken the design and modified it for surf and bad weather rescue.
    He widened the bottom for stability empty except for a three man crew, but kept the standard height sides for safety.
    The second thing we learned after how to row, was how to sail. Those high sides caught the wind.
    (Rowing traditional dories at Mystic Seaport was a shock to us, they have a narrower bottom and would lean over and spin on the chine in a flash)
    We also rowed Swampscott and gunning dories.
    I found the best dory for racing or distance rowing was the Phil Bolger stretched gull dory. For a time they were the competitive class in open water rowing races.

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    Replies
    1. I find it interesting that few people (except you, RowerWet :-) express concern about windage in rowing boats. From my experience, it's a big deal... That's why I emphasize the need to keep the topsides, at the ends, as low as possible.

      Thanks for sharing your experience rowing various styles of dories... Good stuff!

      Tom

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  4. As someone who has plenty of time at the oars of a dory, I can add to your point about the windage.
    I was in a youth rowing group, we had four plywood dories that were built to a WWII coast guard plan. The designer had taken the design and modified it for surf and bad weather rescue.
    He widened the bottom for stability empty except for a three man crew, but kept the standard height sides for safety.
    The second thing we learned after how to row, was how to sail. Those high sides caught the wind.
    (Rowing traditional dories at Mystic Seaport was a shock to us, they have a narrower bottom and would lean over and spin on the chine in a flash)
    We also rowed Swampscott and gunning dories.
    I found the best dory for racing or distance rowing was the Phil Bolger stretched gull dory. For a time they were the competitive class in open water rowing races.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Tom,
    As the builder of Gunning Dory pictured in your May 16 post I thought I'd pass along a few comments regarding the design's application as a rowing cruiser. My wife Sue and I have taken quite a few day trips with this boat but have yet to make a multi-day cruise. Your concern about windage is correct, at least while the boat is lightly loaded. Together we weigh only about 245 lbs. and we usually travel pretty light. For our most recent trips we have added some ballast in the form of and anchor and some gallon jugs of water and even that small amount helps get the boat rooted in the water better so it stays on course more easily. Our most pleasant cruises have been on a local river that has little wind exposure.

    Changes I might make for row-cruising; make the center thwarts easily removable and lower those two frames to facilitate sleeping on board, lower in the boat. The bottom is pretty narrow so one would want a way to create a wider flat sleeping surface. It might be a better cruising boat of it was built with the gunwales were lowered to where the next lower stringer is. This wouldn't narrow the boat much but would significantly reduce the hull's sail effect. I think there would still be enough freeboard and reserve boyancy.

    By the way, Sue uses 7'-6" oars and mine are just under 8'. Before begining building the boat I planned on adding some forward and aft SOF decks and a cabin frame/cover for cruising and possibly a sail for downwind loafing. May happen someday yet.

    You can check out the building process and some other comments on the boat's performance on our web site: www.manytracks.com/boat/.

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  6. Hi Steve... sorry for the delay in responding... Life happens )-:

    I went through your whole site that describes and pictures the building process... Very well done, both the site and the build!

    I'm currently building a Gentry WeeLassie and I wish I had seen your site before I built... I'm at the finishing stages now (skin painting and adding the rub-rail)... I too used the PL Premium coating on the bottom and strongly recommend it... light sanding and then two coats of primer (light sanding between coats) and then final two coats of white paint (next steps) which will be sanded between coats. I've used Rustolium exterior latex with very good results on a couple of boats and also recommend it...good covering, flows very nicely and ends up very smooth.

    Tom

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