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Just for fun, and for the exercise, my brother and I wanted to get into rowing. Not kayak rowing but olympic rowing, where you use your feet to push back for a stronger stroke.

We wanted a kayak or canoe that could be converted to have sliding seats in order to do this, as a regular rowing shell/ skiff runs upward of 2500$.
Any ideas? we need to stay below a 1200$ price range!


  • Used
    Older used doubles appear to be available in your price range.
  • I wouldn't use a canoe
    -- Last Updated: Jun-25-13 8:18 PM EST --

    I regularly row a modern version of an Adirondack guide-boat that's 15 feet long. It's certainly more efficient than most canoes, but not so hugely different that my conclusions are wrong, and actually, the fact that most canoes are a bit less efficient supports my idea that a canoe is a bad choice for a sliding-seat rig, rather than contradict it.

    With the guide-boat, I can achieve hull speed (which is essentially the maximum speed that the boat is capable of reaching in the absence of an astronomical amount of power, like an engine) for short spurts, and stay within 0.5 mph of hull speed for an extended time. I do that without a sliding seat. In fact, I can do it using the very poor technique of rowing with arm power alone, not even rocking my upper body back and forth. It is EASY to get the boat up to that speed with a fixed seat and standard-length oars. But when you hit hull speed, you can multiply your power output about ten-times and the boat simply does not respond. It will not go faster, no matter what (unless one or two tenths of an MPH is worth paying attention to, and for racing it would, but not at any other time).

    Because of that, I figure that all you can really gain by installing a sliding seat as well as outriggers to allow use of substantially longer oars (using a sliding seat with standard-length oars would be crazy) is the ability to cruise at hull speed, or about 0.5 mph faster than what can easily by done with a fixed-seat rig. In other words, you'll have the ability to waste a huge amount of energy via your full-body exertion to accomplish very little. Maybe if you are really strong, you can go 1 mph faster and exceed hull speed by half a mile per hour or so, or maybe since canoes are inherently less efficient, your practical top speed with a fixed seat would be less, meaning your overall gain would be slightly better than what you could get with a guide-boat. Also, with two people rowing instead of just one, you might do a bit better than what I am describing. But if you are going to put forth that kind of effort, you might as well be rewarded by getting enough extra speed to at least make it seem worth it. The only way you will get extra speed in proportion to your full-body effort is to use a long, skinny, competition-style (or at least a semi-competition-style) rowing shell. I've seen some boats made by Alden (I think) that are even passable for use in semi-rough water, and thus won't be so dependent on water conditions as normal rowing shells are (I believe they are self-bailing, with the forward surge of the boat due to each stroke causing water to simply slip out the back end).

    Forget the canoe. Go for the real deal. That is, if you must have the sliding-seat setup.

    Oh yeah, don't forget that canoes have thwarts that will invariably be in the way of a sliding-seat rig (usually they interfere with fixed-seat rowing too), and a canoe with thwarts removed is pretty "floppy". Also, consider the amount of room you need for TWO sliding-seat rigs, including the necessary space between them so the rear-most rower can lean back without hitting the feet of the other guy, and for the forward-most rower to lean back without getting pinned where the boat's width tapers in, and you are probably using up most of the available space in the wider portion of the average tandem canoe (thus you'd need to remove two or three thwarts - usually a bad idea).

  • A guy bought my Wenonah Voyager
    Ultra Light to row on the Detroit river and loved it for that.

    He created his own rowing apparatus to attach to the boat.
  • soren4cor, where are you?
    It's hard to get into sculling unless you're near a river where there's active rowing.

    There used to be a sliding seat/outrigger setup called "Voartex", designed to drop into a canoe, but I haven't seen their ads in quite a while.
  • I'll be watching the reply here closely
    Since my wife and I have been wanting a two person rowing shell for a long time.

    Jack L
  • Why rivers? How about lakes?
    -- Last Updated: Jun-25-13 8:05 PM EST --

    Here in my town (Madison, WI) there are no rivers suitable for this, but there's an active rowing club on each of our larger lakes (and the University of Wisconsin teams practice here as well). For sprint races, even tiny lakes will do. The Midwest Rowing Regatta is held on our tiniest lake, and though that race has only been going on for 40 years or so, I seem to remember another race that had been an annual event for a really long time prior to that one (though I just checked, and still another annual race on that lake has already been cancelled on account of unusually bad weed growth, so I suspect there will be no racing at all there in another year or two). Rowing has a long history in this town even if we are better known for being cheese heads.


    Takes a canoe, and turns it into something to NOT


    -Frank in Miami
  • Gosh, I didn't say lakes. Gosh.I
    I am so mortified.
  • Heehee
    I figured it was that east-coast Ivy-league thing going on.
  • Options
    I moderate a facebook page and yahoo group named open water rower. I sold a piantadosi drop in rig that I used in a 17 ft stowe canoe. i rowed the Wye Island Regatta using it, a little faster than using fixed seat. Slidingg seat is a really unpleasant way to propel a boat....unless its a dedicated shell and speed is the goal, or a heavy boat. Or if you lack uper body strength, it compensates. i can go on about the annoyances. Mostly adding another plane of motion ruins your view and perception. would you jump up and down when riding a bicycle? LOL. Im selling a Loudon Rowboat on Ebay now in MD for a freind. the finest two person rowboats ever, or a workout for a fit single.
  • Not to hijack the thread
    ... or change the topic (but hey, we do that here), but that reminds me of another thing that I personally don't like about sliding seats. All that moving hardware is LOUD. On a really quiet morning, I can hear a pair of "fours" at a distance of more than a mile (more rowers per boat simply means it's even louder). The first time I heard this sound early this spring, I'd completely forgotten about the rowing clubs, and I thought someone was walking a track-mounted backhoe for some great distance along one of the concrete streets on shore. I was rowing too, and in my quick glances over my shoulder I simply didn't see a couple of little boats a mile ahead of me. I sure could hear them though (damn, I didn't think they allowed backhoes to travel such a long distance on pavement!). Of course, this is something that is exclusively an urban, athletic endeavor, and it's NOT a means for traveling or being part of nature, so the racket isn't something the participants should think about.

    Oh, glad to see I'm not the only one who realizes that a sliding seat accomplishes very little in a utilitarian type of boat.
  • Agree about the noise, most of which
    is from the sculls and oarlocks at the catch. The sliding seat itself shouldn't be noisy.

    Sliding seat singles are for relatively open water. The boat is moving pretty fast, even when cruising, and stopping or turning to inspect water lilies is not easy to do. On the Charles River Basin, and up past Harvard toward Watertown, a single scull is a great way to see a lot of cars going by on both sides of the river.

    But upstream on Lake Norumbega, a competition scull will be running up on all sorts of rec boats. Going on upstream in the narrow, twisty stuff between Weston and Newton, it wouldn't be much fun at all. Even a fast sea kayak might not feel at home. A canoe works best.

    Another thing. A competition single has to be dimensioned and adjusted very carefully to feel "right". I can't imagine being happy with any drop in rowing rig without extensive tinkering.

    So I wouldn't recommend sliding seat sculling except for those who want to cover open water quickly.
  • Options
    So I am currently in Memphis TN (by our parents), but my brother and I are in college in NYC, and are based up there.

    We really just want to do it for exercise, burn calories, and build muscle. Of course, enjoying the workout makes it all the better. I would prefer to have a rowing skiff, but I dont think we have the money for that.
    I am also scared of getting a used boat, because we know nothing about boats and how to repair them. We've been canoeing and rafting plenty, but on vacation.

    Anyone have a skiff in NY/ tri state area they want to sell?

    And back to the original topic, is it a good or bad idea to just drop a rigging in a canoe/ kayak?

    Or of course our problem could be solved if someone could answer this: Does rowing a canoe or kayak give you a similar or good full body workout as to a sliding seat rowing skiff?
  • For what it is worth
    If you got into fast, (race training ) in a kayak you will not only get a aerobic workout, but a good body work out, and not just your upper body. You pump off the foot pegs as you take each stroke.
    Believe me, you'll feel it that evening. It is a well used but pleasant feeling in your calf muscles.

    Jack L
  • You're in NYC?
    There are multiple rowing clubs.

    Why not just join one of them and use the club boats?
  • Thanks, Frank. That led to interesting
  • not the same workout
    -- Last Updated: Jun-27-13 1:41 AM EST --

    No, paddling a kayak or canoe doesn't give you the same workout. My godson rows solo and crew and I've tried it myself. The effort is not the same and uses different muscle groups.

    Not quite clear on what region you are paddling in. TN or NY? On the Albany NY Craigslist somebody is selling a Hurka solo shell that can also be used like a kayak (locking down the seat and using a double paddle instead of oars). You said $1200 is your price range and that is the price they have posted.


    Aren't there rowing clubs in your areas? That's where most of the rowers get started around where I live.

    I have heard of people installing oarlocks and a sliding seat in Old Town Guide 147 or 160 canoes. These are fairly common on the used market for under $500. I counted no less than 5 in the upstate NY area for sale now for under $400.

  • Oarlocks versus outriggers
    You may be trying to say this correctly, but perhaps not, and it probably should be clarified. Yes, people often install oarlocks on various Old Town canoes, and Old Town even sells them. But those are gunwale-mounted oarlocks, and combining a sliding seat with regular gunwale-mounted oarlocks would be a huge mistake. The sliding seat amplifies your length of pull so much that only very long oars are suitable, and oars of that length must have the pivot point located quite far outside of the gunwales in order to have the handles positioned where you want them.

    With standard gunwale-mounted oars, you can already exceed the amount of blade movement (in a semi-circular arc) that is efficient with just a minimum of arm movement. Using a sliding seat would just cause the swing of the oars to be much too long, directing the force during most of each swing in useless directions (in or out, rather than toward the rear).
  • correction noted
    Thanks for the correction on that (oarlocks versus rowing frame). I was also chastised by a friend with far more experience with rowing craft than I have. Checking my source I did, indeed, confuse a description of modifying an OT Guide with the adaptation of an Adirondack guide boat.

    I'm intrigued by that Hurka for sale up near Albany. Sent the link to my brother in Saratoga Springs (his son is a competitive rower just entering high school.)

    To the OP -- have you looked at sites that have used rowing craft for sale? There are some cheaper ones on this link if you are willing to make some repairs to them:

  • Hurka is gone
    Ah, too late. The Hurka was sold since yesterday.
  • There you go
    That's the right advice....
  • and nothing on impoundments?!
  • I think the oarlock to oarlock span on
    my racing single was about 60 inches. Not many utilitarian or pleasure rowboats have gunwales that wide!

    Wide outriggers and sliding seats, along with marked narrowing of the hulls, were the secrets of marked increases in racing speed of sculls and shells. That happened way back around the time of the civil war. There have been only relatively minor improvements since then. I'm not sure that I regard hatchet oar blades as an improvement, never having tried them.
  • Options
    Sliding seat rowing isnt a magical workout. when I had a few different shells, after 20 minutes I would start to fatgue and lose some coordination. Catch oarblades, lose balance etc.. seating discomfort. go to a gym an row a concept 2 rower for 30 minutes. Most likely you wont make it. Fixed seat rowing=mo betta, unless you are a dedicated athelete. Buy an ocean kayak and paddle for an hour, great, but not totally pleasant workout. trick is to find a fast canoe or kayak, something that is pleasant for hours on end, not to beat yourself up for 30 minutes.
  • Options
    Just listed a canoe on ebay, show with a piantadosi scout rig sliding seat rig. Search my user name, njsurfboat, or Store canoe.
  • Got me looking
    and you have to give these guys points for creativity. Should be cheap to get boards, not sure about the scull kit:


    I may just do this for fishing on lakes.

  • Hatchet Blades
    -- Last Updated: Jul-05-13 1:18 PM EST --

    I can envision a reason hatchet blades are better, after seeing them in action in some of the videos posted for this topic (some are posted on the other rowing thread too, I think). When I'm rowing, I notice that the shaft of each oar moves forward through the water, cutting a noticeable wake in the process. I see this to a much greater degree with the 8-foot oars of my guide-boat than with the 7-foot oars of my "pack boat". That's because the oar blade slips very little as the boat moves forward, so as the oar shaft changes orientation on its pivot point, the part of the oar that's between the blade and the boat "follows" the boat to some degree. The forward movement of the part of the shaft directly adjacent to the blade (and submerged), is less than the part that's closer to the oarlocks (and not submerged, thus producing no drag), but the forward movement of the shaft within the first 1.0 to 1.5 feet of the blade is significant enough to slice through the water a fair distance, I think close to two feet or maybe more if the blade is buried a little deeply (as would be the case when it's choppy). This really doesn't worry me at all for the kind of boating I do (I'm already much faster than a solo canoe, with far less effort too), but to a racer, that slicing action would be seen as worrisome drag, and drag which fights against the forward motion of that part of the oar shaft will also resist forward motion of the boat, though to a much smaller degree (to a smaller degree due to where it occurs on the lever arm). The hatchet-shaped blade puts the oar shaft right "at" the surface of the water rather than beneath it, so the shaft itself is not slicing through the water as it pivots forward around the blade location. I can't quantify the amount of drag that is eliminated, but based on geometry, it would be easy to calculate what rough percentage of the oar shaft's drag (with conventional oars) would translate into resistance against forward motion of the boat, and in principle, it's easy to see that the full amount of drag experienced by the oar shaft itself is far less when hatchet-shaped blades are used.

  • Thanks, that makes sense.
    And with the old wooden oars and sculls, the power face side of the shaft was kind of streamlined, while the non power face, which would drag through the water relative to the blade itself, was flat. Streamlining both faces of the shaft, and getting most of the shaft out of the water, might make a noticeable difference.

    But just for sculling in variable conditions, I think I'd rather have the old style symmetrical blades. Those new hatchets must catch wave tops noticeably when the rower rolls the shaft to bring the blade vertical.
  • Alden Ocean Shell
    Can usually find one for relatively short money if you look hard enough. Try the classifieds at row2k.com - I've sold several boats there.

    I rowed for 16 years then switched to kayaking for the last 10. I like both for different reasons. Rowing is a better workout, but the learning curve is MUCH steeper and the boats are really only suitable for doing one thing - going fast in a straight line.

    Because the rower moves in the boat, the distribution of volume in a rowing shell needs to be very different than that of a canoe or kayak. You'll get a better appreciation for the sport if you try an actual rowing shell rather than a converted boat. Canoes are too wide, kayaks too narrow in the ends and too much rocker. Most fixed seat rowing boats that have been converted are too heavy/wide/short to take advantage of the sliding seat.

    The poly boat made by Alden is a mess - I've rowed one and it does not balance properly. Go find a used Alden Ocean Shell (the "original" Alden, 16 feet) with a decent pair of oars (ie non wooden) and see if you like it. Alden is still in business if you need parts, and the boats have name recognition so are pretty easy to resell. Which is good, because either you'll hate it, or you'll love it and quickly want a longer/skinnier/faster boat!
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