The Life of Boats

By John C. Harris
October 2010

The Annapolis Wherry has been an enduring favorite and I approached a modification of it with real apprehension.

The 1997 Annapolis Wherry, which has never been modified, is far too small to be usable with two rowers unless they’re both H. floresiensis. While the single-rower version will never go out of production, fans have been asking for a tandem version of the Wherry for 13 years now!

There were delays in bringing the design to fruition---about five years.  One obvious challenge was retaining the original’s sublime good looks while making it big enough for two strong rowers.  At the same time, there had to be an option for rowing the boat as a single, or as a single with a passenger.  That’s three distinct rowing setups right there to cram into a single low-volume hull.  At length I devised an interior layout that’s elegant and simple but allows rowers to switch between tandem, single, and passenger modes in minutes.


The close-to-final version.  The frames have been changed some.


I kept the original’s 38-inch beam and low freeboard, but added some volume in the bow for safety in big waves.  Overall length is 19’10”, short enough to be cartopped on a subcompact. Thanks to the geometry of boat volume, stretching the Annapolis Wherry from 17'9" to 19'10" takes you from a 300-pound payload to a 650-pound payload!  Plenty for two big guys and their gear.


Very fine lines, and lots of planks.


The stern now features a “wineglass” shape, beloved of the traditional boffins.  It isn’t hard to build, allows a very clean exit, and really does look good.  The boat has also acquired a narrow flat bottom (actually traditional to Thames wherries), which reduces the wetted surface significantly and makes the boat a lot easier to build.


The prototype stitched up easily.


We don't have a release date for the kit.  We'll put it out ASAP, pending comprehensive tests and a couple more BETA versions assembled to test the kit.  As for plans, well, those always lag the kit.  Right now the plans look like this:

That's all the info a CNC machine needs---many weeks of work for Jay and I.  But there's nothing there that a scratch builder could work from, and scarring to the eyes if you appreciate a nicely-drawn set of plans like I do.  Usable plans are a massive graphic design exercise.