most stable row boat

Hello Forum,

What is the group opinion?  A boat to row that is stable, that I can carefully enter from a ladder at a landing, and then enjoy time on the calm water of the Chester River.  Once in a while I might like to toss a small crab pot over the side of the boat and preferably not capsize it while hauling the pot back in.  Sailing has minimal importance.

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RE: most stable row boat

My top choices:

1. Lighthouse Tender Peapod - A real joy to row. Tracks straight, yet turns effortlessly. Great payload, enough heft to board safely from a dock without it dancing out from under your feet. Excellent stability, both initial and secondary. Traditionally used for lobster fishing, so crab pot-friendly. Handles wakes and rough water very nicely.


2. Jimmy Skiff II - excellent initial stability.  If you never tried a Peapod, chances are you'll think that this is the best or one of the best general purpose dinghies you've ever rowed, thanks to the skeg. Good directional control, but more effort than the Peapod because of the hull shape. Adjustable rowing seats and an open cockpit will easily accommodate crab pots and such while still keeping the optimum balance for good rowing (the balance is more critical than for the Peapod because a dragging transom will steal all your rowing power). It can be boarded and loaded over the transom in case of heavy weight or entering from a dock. Somewhat cheaper than the Peapod and easier to build since it's all flat surfaces. Extremely reasonable to build from plans. Flat bottom skiffs are very traditional in the Chesapeake.

So that's my suggestions. Have fun,



RE: most stable row boat

   Thanks Laszio.  I will take the Jimmy for a spin this weekend.

RE: most stable row boat

In my personal experience the NE Dory is very stable, easy to build, and takes a large cargo. But data is better than anecdote. Could you look at beam, initial stability, secondary stability, metacentric height, angle of vanishing stability, or stability indices? I've no clue if CLC has calculated or published this kind of data.

RE: most stable row boat

I can't find those numbers anywhere, either, but we can do a quick approximation by comparing the cross sections of the boats at max beam. The focus here will be rowing in calm waters as the OP specified.

Jimmy Skiff II - wide flat bottom, immense initial stability. With the nearly plumb sides secondary stability is nothing to write home about, but the chances of ever needing it in calm water are pretty close to zero. If you do, the fact that this is the only one of the three with built-in flotation may be reassuring.

Lighthouse Tender Peapod - wide rounded bottom. Lots of initial stability with less wetted area than the JSII which reduces drag and makes for easier motion through the water. The rounding of the hull gives improved secondary stability over the JSII.

NE Dory - (the second from the left cross-section is the one to compare to the other boats) has the narrowest bottom so least initial stability of the 3 boats looked at here. The rounded V shape gives immense secondary stability, though, as well as reduced wetted area compared to the JSII.

Based on the cross-sections and trying out all 3 boats, the JSII will feel the most stable but will be the most work to row of the 3. The NED will handle rough conditions the best (especially with ballast) but will feel tippy every time the rower moves until the secondary stability kicks in (It actually feels more stable heeled than upright). It will be less effort to row than the JSII. The Peapod hits the sweet spot in my opinion - good initial and secondary stability so that it never feels tippy but with a hull shape that is easy to row.

Again, I'm assuming that rowing on calm water is the primary goal and am ignoring sailing, motoring, open water issues, etc.



RE: most stable row boat

Attending the Big Little show allowed me to see the CLC fleet beyond the website and outside of the showroom.  It was enligheting to see the boats in their actual environment. 

My wife has drilled into me for years a simple mantra, "Form follows fucntion".   With that in mind I walked by the glamorous Peapod as it seemed too fancy for what I am about and took the Jimmy Skiff 2 for a quick spin.  It was an easy decision. 

A Jimmy Skiff 2 is presently in my shop and coming along nicely.    

I look forward to poking about in it and, with luck, catching a crab or two.       

RE: most stable row boat

   A note on Northeaster Dory. I built, sailed and rowed one for years so this is first hand experience. I've heard several stories of folks taking a swim as they tried to enter from a dock. But, if you've spent your boating life in canoes you'll be fine. Those folks were less nimble and rather new to small boats.

Because she's initially so tender you'll have to be careful loading from a dock or ladder. Getting your foot on or near the centerline is pretty important. Initial stability is low but here I'm standing on the gunnel during a capsize test, you can see final stability is great. You'll have to pay close attention pulling in your crab pots. I've slurped water over the gunnel, but havin't capsized, when careless about weight distribution.

As much as I love the dory I don't think it's the right boat for your design brief.



RE: most stable row boat

I think the Jimmy Skiff 2 meets your expressed needs the best. I used a Jon boat for years and found it to be plenty of fun on the water. Such boats with a wide transom and sheer sides can benefit from having a ladder that you can hang over the transom in case you ever end up in the water and need to get back aboard. I made one for my Jon boat out of junk wood from my shed.

Like Silver Salt I own a NE Dory and adore it! Easy and fun to row, great to sail, holds multiple passangers (at least when rowing). As Silver Salt's picture shows, the secondary stability is superb. This means that an agile person doesn't even need a ladder to get back aboard from deep water. Just grab the leeward rail, push down hard until the rail touches the water, and slide your butt aboard. It's not elegant and you might ship a bit of water, but it works for me!

RE: most stable row boat

   You'd really have to work on it to capsize a dory, but it will move around on you a bit getting in and out but easily manageable. Going strictly by your questions the jimmy skiff is a better match and an easier build

RE: most stable row boat

   Or perhaps even the bevin skiff

RE: most stable row boat

Bevin's Skiff is a good boat in the same general class as the Jimmy Skiff but it has a few important differences. First, it's a foot and a half shorter. As a result it has 75 lbs less less payload capacity. Being shorter, it also has less stability, all other things being equal.

The other big difference is the Bevin's Skiff (seems disrespectful of a nice boat design to use the obvious abbreviation) construction method. It's a tradionally-built boat with clenched nails, bevels, chines, non-epoxy glue, etc. whereas the Jimmy Skiff is a true stitch and glue construct. The kit does not contain any of the solid timber parts (chines, transom, knees, skeg, frames, stem, etc.) or glue, nails, etc. It is only the sides, bottom, "deck" and gussets. Basically it's the big pieces where you need quality plywood that's impossible to get at local DIY store. The JSII kit, on the other hand, is a complete boat with epoxy and fiberglass which is why it costs 3 times as much.

Bevin's Skiff is a timeless design that your great-great-grandparent would feel completely familar with, at least until they noticed the plywood. It's very traditional, at home on any of the North American coastal waterways and, as the picture shows, can be built to an extremely high finish. Properly loaded, it's rowing performance should be within the same ballpark as the JSII.

It's also an open boat without buoyancy tanks. Personally, I'm in the "If not duffers, won't drown" school myself, so a lack of built-in buoyancy doesn't bother me. It's wood, wood floats and I'd have a PFD. Besides, the OP stated that the boat would be used for calm waters.

The final important difference between the two boats is maintenance and longevity. Bevin's Skiff is meant to be painted, not encapsulated with glass and epoxy. Therefore it is more susceptible to water intrusion and damage. The internal chines will also trap dirt and water more than the JSII's smooth glassed fillets. At the very least it will need more frequent inspections than the JSII. If it was my boat, I'd glass the outside bottom and up 2 inches onto the hull, as well as epoxying at least the joints and any exposed end-grain just to reduce the chances of water intrusion.

So the main advantage of Bevin's Skiff over the JSII is for the builder who is (or wants to become) a skilled carpenter, who wants the traditional boat-building experience and doesn't want to (or can't) work with epoxy. They'd end up with a good-looking, boat of a type that countless others have rowed and fished out of and, finished like the one in the picture, they will turn heads at any dock.





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