The other day we got a few great questions from a prospective customer.  After typing out a e-mail response, I had a brain-wave that other people visiting our website might find value in my answer, too.  So I’m trying something new today, and adapting this e-mail into a blog post.  Who knows, this might become a recurring series on the blog.

In a nutshell, the inquiry posed a few criteria and asked what the best rowboat would be, given that:

  • The boat’s primary use would be solo rowing, but he would like to have the ability to take along the occasional passenger.
  • Versatility is important (easy installation/removal of sliding seat based on whether rower wants more exercise or leisurely recreation)
  • The rower is age 62, about 6’2″ and 200+ pounds
  • The boat will be mostly used on local reservoirs and small lakes
  • The boater has previous boating experience and owns a small trailer for transportation

That’s a lot to think about, but I’ve been talking with people about this sort of stuff almost every day for 30 years, so let’s dig in.

First, let’s analyze the characteristics of the two most applicable boats to see which is the best fit. Our most popular boats for rowing enthusiasts are the 14′ Whitehall and the 16.5′ Melonseed.

The 14’ Whitehall is a great rowboat design – it has a long glide, and nice tracking.  But because of its fine entry and transom, it is a bit sensitive to fore and aft weight trim. Although it is 14’ overall, if you look analytically at the ‘footprint’ you will see that there is only about 10’ of load carrying buoyancy, with two foot-long points on each end to furnish the hydrodynamics. We have found through 30 years’ experience and 3000 something boats (being diplomatic here) that Big Guys find the Whitehall to be a bit critical.

That’s’ why we developed the 16.5 Melonseed; it has the same fine entry and transom as a Whitehall but is more forgiving because of its increased buoyancy, wider beam and lower center of gravity. Plus, we build the Melonseed with three sets of oarlocks and infinitely-adjustable seat and footchock positioning. Demographically speaking, I’m actually a couple of years ahead of the original asker, and although I’m average height at 5’10” and a fit 170 pounds I prefer rowing the Melonseed. I row long distances through tide rips, conflicting currents, and large boat wakes, so I prefer the remarkable seaworthiness of the Melonseed.  In gentle inland waters that might not be as much of a concern, but since its increased stability doesn’t come with a tradeoff in ease of rowing, it’s a win-win.

In this photo, you can see the proportions work well for a tall person (the rower, Falk, is around 6'2")

It’s a beautiful boat too!

These are the sorts of conversations that I love having with our customers.  Have a similar question you’ve been puzzling over?  Send me an email at boatshop@ghboats.com.  Hope to hear from you soon!

~ Dave