Mark Wallace's Black Skiff

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pacific Loon: A SoF Oar Cruiser

The Pacific Loon is a Skin on Frame (SoF) rowboat that is 13' 4" (4.1m) long, 4' 8" (1.4m) beam available in plan, paper patterns or kit form.

Two Pacific Loons Loaded for Cruising

Actually, this is not just a rowboat that can be converted into an oar cruiser. It IS an Oar Cruiser, designed for cruising, although it functions beautifully for fishing or just sightseeing. The custom tent for sleeping on board can be made from the included plans.

The Tent for the Pacific Loon -- Plans Included

The frame is an ingenious design that goes together, as Matt Hickey (owner and designer at “Hermit Cove Boats) says, “…like Ikea furniture.” This approach guarantees that all components of the frame will be perfectly aligned and locked together. The design includes a floor that sits on top of the frames (a couple of inches above the skin) and is long enough and wide enough to be a comfortable sleeping platform.

A Composit Picture of the Frame

The design, based on Phil Bolger’s recreational rower (see The Folding Schooner... Chapter 21), is comfortable and can easily carry a passenger for day trips with its two rowing positions.

Rowing from the Forward Rowing Position with a Passenger

The topside flare, freeboard and lightness of the hull all ensure that the Loon can handle rough water.

Rowing in Rough Waters

Matt says she is not a fast rower…“If I row the 14 foot Loon at an easy pace she goes 2.5 knots. If I throw my back into it, 3 knots.” That’s the price of sea worthiness, comfort and carrying capacity.

I really like this boat for her designed-in cruising ability. And she’s pretty.

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments below.

(Thanks to Matt Hickey and Friends for all the photos)


  1. ld stability cope if you plan to camp at anchor?
    Thanks Brooks -Bartlett

  2. Brooks-Bartlett, if I understand you correctly, you are questioning the stability of the Loon while anchored and sleeping on board.
    Given it's width at over 4', the low center of gravity while sleeping, only about 4" above the bottom and small amount of deadrise in the bottom (shallow "V"), I'd see no issue at all sleeping aboard at anchor. Matt Hickey and others have done it many times.

  3. 2.5 kts cruise speed seems slow. The boat is fairly short so probably hull speed limited. I would like to see the same concept stretched to 16 - 17 feet, and include slide seat. That should still be light weight and car top, but faster and more carrying capacity. I don't see advantage to the 13' 4" length, longer is usually considered optimum for a solo rowing boat.

  4. Tom - On the Hermit Cove site all the links to row camping in the San Juans and Gulf Islands are dead. I would like to see those trip reports, do you know if the trip is posted elsewhere?

  5. Rick... sorry for the late response... agree on the Pacific Loon... seems pretty slow... could also be partly due to the wide hull and thus skin friction... I was thinking the same way, stretch it out to 17 feet, keeping all else the same...

    Regarding the San Juan videos... I looked at them about two weeks ago and all was okay... I don't know any other location for the videos... I sent you a private email.