Mark Wallace's Black Skiff

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Oxford Wherry 16 as an Oar Cruiser

Colin Angus offers a beautiful rowboat, the Oxford Wherry, that would make a really nice oar cruiser.

Colin Angus's Oxford Wherry

The specifications show that she is fast (note the bow wake in the photo above) and is capable of handling weight you would need for a weekend cruise.


  • Length Overall: 15' 10" (488 cm)
  • Waterline Length: 15' 7" (475 cm)
  • Beam: 38" (97 cm)
  • Weight: 53 lbs (27 kg)
  • Watertight compartments: 2
  • Depth: 11"
  • Freeboard at 250 lb displacent: 7.5"
  • Freeboard at 600 lb displacement: 5 "
  • Block Coefficient: 0.39
  • Prismatic Coefficient: 0.51
  • Sprint speed: 11-12 km/hr (6.5 knots)
  • Cruise Speed: 6-8 km hr (3-4 knots)
  • Maximum recommended touring load: 500 lbs (225 kg)
  • Maximum recommended short distance load: 600 lbs (270 kgs)

Colin Angus Comments:
“The Oxford Wherry combines elements of traditional beauty with modern design and construction to create a vessel that is not just gorgeous, but unbelievably fast and functional.  Its design takes the most positive elements of traditional wherries and Whitehalls – wineglass transom, carvel-like construction, and elegant woodwork - while jettisoning the less-than-ideal attributes such as excessive weight and beam… 
…The hull is shaped for true performance without compromising stability.  The vee bottom is almost flat in the middle further creating stability (a surprising number of designers create deep vees in similar style vessels which decreases stability and does nothing for performance).  The vee increases near the stern and bow to assist in cutting through waves and creating lateral resistance to enhance tracking…”
Interestingly, the Oxford Wherry can also be paddled, useful when exploring narrow creeks and marshes.

Oxford Wherry Paddling...

...or Rowed with Sliding Seat...

...or Rowed Fixed Seat

As I always do with row boat designs, I consider what modifications could be done to make it fit the definition of an ‘oar cruiser’ (see definition in right column in this blog), without compromising the hull design. What modifications could be done to make the Oxford Wherry an oar cruiser, suitable for week long cruises?

  • Add a water-tight bulkhead, with large access hatch, at each end of a 7’ (2.1m) rowing/sleeping cockpit, eliminating the designed seats, but retaining the frames.
  • Add a cross-planked set of floorboards for the cockpit, spanning the frames, to provide a dry sleeping platform and attachment points for rowing seat and foot rests.
  • Add fore- and aft-decks, as well as narrow side decks, using skin-on-frame, resulting in a cockpit opening of 4’ to 5’ (1.2m to 1.5m) long. These decks would partially cover the ends of the sleeping area.
  • Add a 3-inch (76 mm) coaming around the sides of cockpit to increase freeboard as well as a support for short outriggers (to provide oar lock span of 4 feet (1.2m)).
  • Provide rain protection for sitting headroom and sleeping using some form of shelter.

Colin sells plans for the Oxford Wherry as well as kits. The diagram below shows the panels that are provided in the very complete kit for the boat.

Wood Components in the Kit

Tom Fry has put together a 10 minute time-lapse video of building an Oxford Wherry.

Let us know your thoughts on using the Oxford Wherry 16 as an oar cruiser.

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