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Brand New Rowboat

March 8, 2022 in Uncategorized


At one time, the humble rowboat was as commonly used for around the lake water transportation as bicycles are still today in some parts of the world. 

I must admit, I have a fascination and never ending interest in these little boats. I treasure the 1936 Port Carling built skiff that was purchased for my mother’s 16th birthday. Stan Hunter, who is currently building a brand new row boat for a client in Nova Scotia and then on to Austria, explained that these little boats are surprisingly strong in their design, a design that dates back perhaps thousands of years in history.

The basic strength of the rowboat comes from two opposing curves that join in a triangle.  With the skyboards, boat and stern seats and knees locking in the triangle, the lap construction ensures a continuous point of connection for all the planking. Stan showed me the Ball Peen hammer he uses to hammer in the rivets. 

Stan explained that you can expect to spend about 200 hours building a rowboat and another possible 20 hours making the oars. Imagine the care and workmanship that goes into making these “simple” boats, especially when built really well. Small details in the Port Carling area boat set them apart. The seat edges were gently beveled, the skyboards were shaped with a small depression underneath as a place to enhance your grip. The stem tips were given a small flourish of curve. The closer you look the more you discover about the character of wood and design.

We don’t see fleets of rowboats for rent at hotels or liveries anymore. Today it is mostly plastic paddle boards and canoes, for the human-powered craft.

By Tim Du Vernet

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