Sliding Seats FAQ

Over the years we have been asked, what makes your small boat sliding seat rig so great? Well, a few years ago at the the boat show we took some photos of some of the other designs, and we think that if you compare them all you can see why ours is the best for a combination rowing and sailing boat.

This lightweight unit is inexpensive but has a few drawbacks. It isn’t fastened to the boat, takes up most of the interior volume and the oarlocks are in the wrong location for a full sliding seat stroke. At full extension a short rower will have contact with the back of their legs and the platform and it makes attempting to move around in the boat an acrobatic exercise. Other than that it’s a great concept!

This system is elegant as it’s made from solid teak and has brass fittings it’s well built but is a bit heavy and expensive. This rig is extremely beautiful. It’s very functional and works well. As with the above system this is a bulky mechanism and installation makes moving in the boat difficult. Complete removal is preferable when converting the boat from rowing to sailing. Then you have to find a safe and secure location to carry and store the rail unit.

Here is another view of this rig. The chief disadvantage to this rig is that it takes up the floor space, so when you are sailing you are very likely to leave it ashore. Also being made of teak and hand finished, it has a price appropriate to the work that goes into making it.

This rig is one from an ocean rowing boat. You’ll notice the similarity of the tracks to the “competitor #2” rig. The problem with this rig is that salt water is extremely corrosive and when you spend days at sea you can’t flush it with fresh water after every use. This can lead to squeaks probably from the rusting of the bearings. You won’t mind it for an afternoon of rowing but rowing for days the noise can get to you. As reported to us by those who have elected to replace their rigs with our custom ocean row rig.

This is our teak version of the sliding seat rig in the Jersey Skiff. As you can see it’s very clean inside of the boat. The foot rest can be easily removed with a couple of fast pins, and the seat can be slid up forward to get it out of the main cockpit, or placed aft for sitting on while steering.

This photo is from our Whitehall. Again the cockpit floor is clear for moving around while sailing yet the sliding seat rig is easily available. This boat has the teak trim on the rails but has the regular fiberglass seat.

As you can see, virtually all of our competitors utilize a narrow,’butt shaped’ seat whereas we prefer a wide seat that provides much more freedom of movement. Those narrow seats are designed for for competition where the rower must stay perfectly centered to prevent capsize of a narrow racing hull. Our boats as those of our competitors are based on workboat hulls and have much higher stability than a racing shell. Frequently when we are on the water we like or need to be able to shift our weight to one side or the other such as when fishing, coming alongside a yacht or dock, general working and particularly when rowing with uneven loads.

Our roller system isn’t just a narrow hard plastic wheel on an aluminum runner; it is based on a system of 8 medium density large diameter wheels suspended in 16 stainless steel sealed ball bearings making it smooth as glass and absolutely silent.

Another overlooked aspect of a working rowboat as opposed to a racing boat is that sometimes a fixed seat can be superior to a sliding seat. In rougher seas, handling cargo, fishing or even coming alongside a dock the rower has more control if the seat is not moving. With our seat system, you can convert instantly from sliding to fixed configuration in seconds by dropping two stainless steel lock pins into place.

Some of our customers come from crew rowing and prefer a rig that is closer to one used in a scull. We have built several Whitehall 14’s and 16ft Melonseed’s with this rig. There are some photos in our November 2005 Newsletter. There are Piantedosi Row Wings or Oarmaster sliding seats rigs for use with sculling oars. Both of these setups require some special mounts to be put in the boat in place of our own sliding seats, making this option part of the specifications for the hull. Just contact us if you are interested in this option.

Gig Harbor’s unique seat system is world class and offers the best of both worlds. Just ask Oar Northwest, the winner of the 2006 Tans-Atlantic rowing race from New York to Falmouth England. Or Erdun Eruc who converted his boat from a hard roller system to our system for his 2007 row from San Francisco to Australia, nonstop (see the April 2007 Newsletter). Or Roz Savage, who used our system for her trans-Pacific rowing voyage. If our system is the best for them, think how enjoyable it will be for your workout across the local lake or harbor!

We think that once you look closely at the other small boat sliding seat designs you will see why we build the one we do. It is a refinement of our’s that works well for most of our customers. However, we are a custom boat shop and we can install any of the drop in rigs. These require some work when the hull is laid up with some extra reinforcement points but your satisfaction is our top priority, and we want you to be happy.