Wherry launched yesterday

Posted by Kelly C on Sep 13, 2004

I took the bondo-boat out yesterday and tried it out. I went ahead and invited passengers along, since I was fairly confident that it wouldn't sink. So Gabe the Little Brother, plus my dog Gooch, helped out.

The Wherry goes very nicely onto my VW Golf, which has a Saris roof rack. I eventually realized that the best way to load and unload is to pick up the boat by both gunwhales, from the bottom, and put it onto the car from the side. Loading it onto the roof racks while trying to do an overhead carry is just too awkward.

I didn't have my oar collars set at the right spot, but that was something I wanted to determine in the first outing anyway. I have the oar collars held temporarily with some hose clamps--once the position is determined, I'll nail the leather collars in place. I need to cross the oars just a bit more than they currently cross.

I suck at rowing. I finally, after I was out an hour or so, sort of got the hang of the process. I'm glad I didn't attempt a sliding seat, I would have been in much more trouble. The Wherry is really an incredibly shallow boat, and I'm 6'1" with a 34" inseam. My big knees just get in the way of the oars on the recovery stroke, and it's difficult to avoid dipping an oar on recovery.

I got some comments on the boat, but since the outside still isn't painted, it doesn't look nearly as nice as a wherry should. That's ok, I wanted to get out and enjoy the lakes around here, and now I can.

The wherry is fun to row, sure. I can tell I'm going to have some very nice outings with my boat, and I'm glad that I can take Gooch (85 lb chocolate lab) along with me. If I didn't have Gooch, I'd have probably built a kayak instead.

But...I got bitten by the rowing boat bug a few years ago, and the boat that I really wanted to build or buy is an Adirondack Guide Boat. I tried a demo boat 2 years ago at a nearby store; they have 2 demos from the Adirondack Guide Boat company, both Kevlar boats. I rowed the 15 foot pack boat. Rowing that boat is instant grin material. It's immediately comfortable, and the oar height is perfect for a big guy like me. The flexible 8 foot oars really make that guide boat jump and go.

So I sort of "settled" for the wherry. The kit is 1/5 the cost of either a Kevlar guide boat, or their wooden guide boat kit.

Before you flame me for sounding bitter, let me say that I'm not. I know that a lot of people read this message board when they're considering what type of boat to buy or build. I'm not trying to discourage people from the wherry in the least, I'm just sharing my thoughts on the differences between the wherry and guide boats.

Oh, one more difference--I think a finished wherry is a much prettier boat than a kevlar guide boat. Sure, the guide boat has wood trim and such, but the wherry is *all* wood!