Wooden Rowboat to go across the Atlantic

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Dakillr013, Jun 1, 2022.

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  1. Dakillr013
    Joined: Jun 2022
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    Dakillr013 Junior Member

    I'm a US national living in India at the moment. I want to design and make a rowboat, preferably out of wood, and row from India to America sometime next year. I have a very good working knowledge of math and physics because of my education and I am also excellent with tools and construction(woodworking included) because of my work. However, I have never worked on anything related to watercraft.

    Regardless, towards the aforementioned end, I have found that Principles of Naval Architecture from SNAME might be a good resource. I would like you all to comment on the feasibility of the idea, and if there is anything of note that I might miss or that might not be included in the book, which I plan on ordering soon.

    I also have a few questions, namely, what is the maximum weight an adult male in his late 20's with a height of 6 foot and weighing about 80 kg(176 lbs) who is reasonably fit can row for a long period of time? What is a sustainable speed at this maximum weight and what weight would be required to maintain a speed of 2 knots? I really like the look of wood, but it might not be feasible, so what is the best material for this boat? Also, how frequently are fish caught in the ocean with a sea rod?

    Thanks in advance for reading through my preposterous plans and taking the time to answer.
     
  2. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    The main problem with the concept is a rowboat can be flipped over by the sea and then you die.

    This is why Yrvind's boats always consider rollover.

    The next problem to overcome is oars can easily be broken by heavy seas.

    So, there are practical limits to the idea and wisdom, in general, says no.
     
  3. Will Gilmore
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    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    Ocean rowing - Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_rowing#:~:text=In%202020%2C%20Anna%20and%20Cameron,15%20hours%20and%2022%20minutes.
    https://oceanrowing.com/
    https://www.oneoceancrew.org/post/to-row-an-ocean-you-need-a-boat
    It is not unheard of. I can't seem to find much info on the boats themselves.
     
  4. Dakillr013
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    Dakillr013 Junior Member

    Thanks for the prompt response. Wouldn't that bit about flipping over apply to really any boat/ship though? Additionally, I don't think the boat capsizing is an immediate death sentence because it can be flipped over again. About the oar, what if it's made of something besides wood like say carbon fibre, would it still break?
     
  5. Dakillr013
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    Dakillr013 Junior Member

    Ah thanks for the reply. I'll look for more information on the boats, but that aside, would the direction of crossing i.e. West to East or East to West, be of any effect on the speed and route? Basically, will I be able to reach these speeds if I'm coming from England towards Canada rather than the other way around, or will the rowboat be affected by winds or currents or something of the sort.

    Edit: So I found this article that says that the boat was built to self-right and the self righting mechanism seems quite simple. However, this boat had a cabin in which he could shelter himself if it capsized. If there is no cabin, how dangerous is falling into the water, waiting for it to turn upright, and climbing back on?
     
  6. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    You really don't understand the raging sea at all. Capsizing a rowboat in the middle Atlantic is pretty much a death sentence.

    Take an average rowboat to a lake deep enough to replicate deep ocean on a noce day and flip it over. Then, no feet on the bottom, try to right it. Now, imagine doing that in 16' seas with a 3' chop. All your gear would be gone, oars smashed, it is a bad formula.
     
  7. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    That is a great link Will.

    I knew it was being done, but not as a race. Just pushed back some for fear he wasn't putting enough care into the effort.
     
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  8. Dakillr013
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    Dakillr013 Junior Member

    I certainly do not understand the raging seas whatsoever. I don't understand seas at all to be frank. Flipping it over manually aside, what if the boat had a keel and was self righting?
     
  9. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Currents are a major factor. Rowing against them is torture. Same as wind.

    Falling out of a boat in a raging sea is another potential death sentence,
     
  10. Milehog
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    Milehog Clever Quip

    D, even though you are on dry land you are in over your head.
    Experienced rowers take years preparing for such an adventure.
     
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  11. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Welcome to the forum Dakill.

    Do you really want to start off from India, rowing, or do you just want to row across the Atlantic?
    If you start from India, what would be your route? To Africa and then overland, or through Suez, or.......?

    Some gentle advice - please do not even think that you will be able to design an ocean going rowing boat by reading PNA - there is a lot more to it than just beaning up on some naval architecture.

    If you really want to build a boat, you could perhaps try contacting Phil Morrison who designed the plywood kit boats for the Woodvale trans-atlantic races in the 90's - you might be able to purchase plans through him. Or there might even be a forgotten kit for sale somewhere that wants to be built.
    Ocean Rowboats https://angusadventures.com/adventurer-handbook/oceanrowing/ocean-rowboats/

    And realistically it will be much cheaper and easier in the long run to simply buy a second hand rowing boat that is already proven - here is one for sale.
    Woodvale Ocean Rowing Boat For Sale Due to Injury https://afloat.ie/watersport/rowing/coastal-rowing/item/54428-woodvale-ocean-rowing-boat-goes-up-for-sale-due-to-injury

    And the world has moved on a lot further re trans-atlantic rowing boat design and construction since the Morrison boats - the leading builders now appear to be Rannoch :
    Rannoch Adventure - Ocean Rowing Boats & Ocean Rowing Adventures https://www.rannochadventure.com/

    All ocean rowing boats share the same need for a relatively large watertight cabin to provide self righting ability if (when) they capsize.

    Eric Sponberg contributes occasionally to this forum - he is now retired, and in the middle of a round the world sailing cruise.
    He designed a very neat and effective trans-pacific rowing boat for a gentleman who wanted to row singlehandedly and non stop from North America to Australia and he accomplished it, taking almost a year to do the passage.
    Pacific Rowboat https://www.ericwsponberg.com/boat-designs/pacific-rowboat/

    There is also an excellent thread on this Forum about the Pacific row boat -
    Pacific Rowboat https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/pacific-rowboat.54346/

    Re your latest posts above, if you want to cross the North Atlantic, the only way to do it is from West to East, as the prevailing winds will generally help you - although there will be many occasions when you go backwards, because you have head winds.
    If you want to go from east to west, you need to take the tradewind route, from Africa to (eg) the Caribbean.

    Re going backwards, this was the experience of my friend Stein, who rowed the North Atlantic 6 years ago from west to east at the age of 70, singlehanded.
    He regularly sent updates to his Facebook page about the trip.
    Stein Hoff - Atlantic Row 2016 https://www.facebook.com/soloatlanticrow2016
    And after approx 80 days out, when he was still about 600 miles from Ireland, he got caught in a storm which repeatedly rolled him - he was locked inside the little cabin, hoping each time that the boat would come upright again. It must have been like being locked inside a washing machine.
    The multiple capsizes broke all 4 oars, so he was forced to activate his EPIRB, and a very large bulk carrier came to his rescue, manoeuvered alongside his boat and got him off - no mean feat, especially as the seas were still enormous.
    Stein ended up back in New York (where he had set off from 3 months earlier), as that is where the ship was going to.
    And his row boat carried on by herself - she was found some months later, washed up on a gravel beach at the far northern end of Norway.
    If you have time, read through his Facebook page (it will take some time) - and then decide if you still want to do this trip.
     
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  12. Dakillr013
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    Dakillr013 Junior Member

    Your responses and concern are much appreciated. With this in mind, and assuming that the trip, if it were to happen would start in April, I think I would be going in the direction of the Trade Winds. What route would you recommend for such a trip?
     
  13. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    whatever boat you are in needs to be very carefully considered for righting

    Watch this video at 2:50 for about 30 seconds. Then consider having no propulsion, no forward momentum, and jist being thrashed in a small boat.

     
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  14. Dakillr013
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    Dakillr013 Junior Member

    Thanks for the response. I do want to start off from India, not just row across the Atlantic.
    The route I was thinking of based off just my highschool geography knowledge was through Suez then along the coast to North equator currents and then across.
    It's a pretty big part of this project for me that I travel in a boat that I make so buying a boat is not really on the table. This is also why kits won't really work. About the purchasing designs, that seems like the most probable course of action at the moment.
    Is this necessary? I mean wouldn't a heavy weight at the bottom(keel) work just as well if the boat was open?
     

  15. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    I admire your optimism!
    Do you really think that the Suez Canal Authorities will allow you to row through the canal?
    Assuming that you manage to get there in the first place, after rowing across the Indian Ocean.
    You then have a very long passage along the north coast of Africa in the Mediterranean where you do not have any tradewinds to help you.
    If you really want to row across an ocean, be a bit less ambitious, build a boat and send it to (eg) the Canary Islands and then set off from there.

    Sure, it would work like a sailing boat without a sailing rig.
    But what is going to protect you from the elements? Are you going to sleep in a survival suit?
    The boat will have a very quick roll period with this keel for stability, which you will probably find unpleasant.
    And every extra kg of weight in the keel translates to extra effort that you have to make to move the boat through the water.
    If a keel worked, and was effective, all of the ocean rowing boats would have one, no?
    OK, Eric Sponberg's ocean rowing boat has a noticeable keel - but I think this is more for directional stability rather than self righting ability. He still relies on the buoyancy provided by the fore and aft cabins to right the boat if she capsizes.
     
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