A 15 foot rowing boat - design and construction


With the outriggers folded and in forward position for carrying a passenger

rolo launched

Outriggers unfolded, again in the position for carrying a passenger

The idea originated when Josephine expressed a desire for a boat that we could get afloat without the complications of road trailing, rigging and launching our seaworthy but also heavy 15 foot sailing dinghy. She does not drive and so her original wish was for a boat she could take to our local beach and launch on her own using some kind of wheeled trolley.  She also wanted the boat to have room for both of us to live on board with a boat tent! I was pretty sure these requirements could not be combined, but a lightweight boat that could carry camping equipment for on shore camping should be feasible. 

It was with this in mind that a few years ago I purchased a two person inflateable kayak but we quickly found that was not realy the answer.  Unpacking, inflating and assembling an inflateable kayak actually takes considerably longer than unloading a lightweight boat from a car roor rack or launching from a road trailer, so no time saving there.  Also, the inflateable kayak also did not really have space for camping equipment, so much of the volume within the hull being air chambers.  And we never really got used to the idea of paddles, we are much more used to oars which have provided the secondary propulsion for our sailing dinghy over many years. 

So I started to think about a lightweight rowing boat that would weigh little more than the inflateable kayak (the robust ones are not all that light) and which, unlike the sailing dinghy, would give us some gentle exercise. Nothing too strenuous but gentle rowing is enough to keep warm in cooler weather so might extend our boating further into the winter months. 

I went through a period of 3D sketching on the computer, then eventually set off to a company with a waterjet cutting machine, taking five sheets of marine plywood on the car roofrack and with a flash drive containing a .dxf cutting file in my pocket.  In due course I collected a pallet laden with a pile of cut parts.  Construction was completed over a period of about two years.  I worked on it intermittently and we spent much of the summers away dinghy cruising with our sailing dinghy so i could not guess how many hours it took, but at least the assembly of the hull did go pretty quckly thanks to the precison of computer controlled cutting. 

Josephine is pleased with the boat and we have used it quite intensively over the past summer and we are still making good use of it for day trips and part day trips as we move into the winter months. 

I have to say that the original requirement for a boat that could be transported manually from our house to the local beach has hot been achieved.  Although we quite often walk down to the beach I had never studied the route iin detail and had not taken account of the steep steps on the last part of the path down onto the beach.  We tried it once but it was a struggle to get the boat down those steps and also to haul it back up the steep half mile from the beach to our house.  But there are three good boat launching slipways within about half an hour drive from our house, so why struggle to launch on a beach that is really a surfing beach anyway, so not a good place for small rowing boats.

I recently produced a Powerpoint presentation for a meeting of the Amateur Yacht Research Society, so if you want to see more you can download the attachment below. 


Download this file (17-03-01 Row boat presentation.pptx)17-03-01 Row boat presentation.pptx[Powerpoint presentation for AYRS meeting]6303 kB2017-11-28 00:55