Planning Open Water Rowing in Northeaster Dory

I'm looking to build a 100 pound rowboat for primarily inshore rowing to the fishing reefs, some beach lauching to shorten the row, not too technical for this my first build, stand up for casting at times, ocassional passenger.

Weight is important because I want to be able to walk it on a dolly to the beach 7 blocks and maybe pull it behind my bicycle. The water is Santa Monica Bay but one day I would like to row the 22 miles to Catalina Island. (There was at one time an anual organized row to the island.)

Is the Northeaster Dory my boat?

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RE: Planning Open Water Rowing in Northeaster Dory

   Maybe, maybe not on the NE Dory.  I have one with a lug rig.  Sounds like whatever you do, you're not interested in sailing.

I know that standard NE Dories and Skerries have made lots of open water miles, and that Santiago (of The Old Man and the Sea fame) pulled in his giant Marlin and fought off the sharks in an open dory, but I'd personally still hesitate to be ocean-bound in either.  I was stationed in San Diego and spent plenty of time in Catalina Channel - in my 42 ft ketch - and often appreciated every inch length and freeboard of that boat, and it's 23,000 lb displacement out there!  (It wouldn't tow behind a bike :) )

I often see water up near the gunwale on my NE Dory when it is in rough water, both rowing and sailing.  I've often wondered what would happen if it was designed with a whole extra 3-4" plank to increase the freeboard.  It might be more seaworthy, but of course also have quite a bit more windage to deal with, too.

If a NE Dory or Skerry turns over (or takes a breaker over the side) in stock configuration, it comes up as a full bathtub with only inches of freeboard when swamped.  I tested my Dory and confirmed that it couldn't be bailed out in open water in anything other than a very small sea state (less than 1 ft waves). I subsequently added quite a bit of extra floatation besides the standard under-seat foam; I now feel like I can self-rescue in moderate waves (on the lake) but would never feel confident of doing so out on the ocean.  I presume the Catalina rowing event is attended by safety boats, but even so I woulnd't like to be out in the ocean in a boat I couldn't self-rescue.

As to beach launching, I've rarely seen the (true, ocean facing) coast there calm enough to make beach launching easy (if that's the type of beach launch you are considering). Often swells even if no wind. You'd have to pick your day, and most days woulnd't support coastline beach launches.  Maybe you're thinking about other sheltered beaches. You're the local resident, so I leave all this to you to determine. Remember that if you're to beach lauch with one person, you'll have the boat banging around on the beach at the same time you have to run your dolly back up out of the water. Maybe not a bad job for two, but tricky for one.

Even without all the sail gear, the length of the NE dory will make it a little unwieldy for very much moving about by hand or bike.  My NE Dory with gear aboard and on a real trailer isn't suitble for moving by hand except to get it moved around on the (flat) driveway or parking lot.  So again, not outfitted for sail, and on a dolly instead of a trailer, and assuming minimal hills it COULD be done with the NE Dory - but I'd say it would be an effort. 

Giving it all a bit of thought, and then scrolling through the boats listed here on the CLC website, I confirmed an initial idea I had for what might be my first choice in this instance.  I did discount some things like the Peapod (weight), Jimmy Skiff (flat bottom wouldn't like large waves) and other ideas/boats for a number of reason I won't go into.  Here's my idea:  It might be heavier than you like, but fits most of the rest of the bill.  I think you could talk CLC into setting you up with a special-order Skerry Raid kit, telling them you were only interested in bulding the Raid hull (with the coaming) for rowing - that you didn't need centerboard trunk, centerboard, rudder or sail parts.  Looking at the pictures you might need to add a little support post or something to support the forward deck in place of the (absent) centerboard trunk, but that would be a very easy modification.  Looks like it could fit two people, as there are some pictures with two aboard. In my mind, that might be a boat that could be handled on a dolly and that I'd be willing to take out ocean rowing!  

Of course I'd jump in my Chess 17 kayak (it is outfittted with rudder and spray skirt) and head ot to Catalina or Alaska with only a very small twinge of apprehension, so there's that - and I'd fear large-hulled sea traffic maybe more than anything else.  I'd feel much safer in the kayak than in my stock than in my NE Dory.

RE: Planning Open Water Rowing in Northeaster Dory

   Thank you BH for that informative response. A solo cross channel row is out of the question and thanks for pointing out that some of these capsize excersises in the Northeaster Dory that I've seen videos of would be near impossible in the ocean on most days. Last year, we sold our 17 foot Sid Skiff from Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding which was seaworthy but inconvenient to launch as it needed the hoist or a ramp. I've been rolling our 80 pound plastic kayak down to the water and hope that an extra 20pouns will be doable if also a workout. There is a hand launch dock in King Harbor that would be easier than the beach launch if the first few times at the beach are too much. 




RE: Planning Open Water Rowing in Northeaster Dory

   Two other boats that I considered are Ian Oughtred's Acorn 17 and Clint Chase's Drake 17 but the CLC Northeastern Dory kit is priced right, straight forward, and very attractive to this beginner boatbuuilder.

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