Row, row, row your...kayak
July 7, 2013 11:13 PM   Subscribe

I was a (sort of) competitive rower in a former life. I now enjoy kayaking and other outdoorsy water excursions. I want a boat that combines the best of these. Is this a possible thing?

In high school, I was a (not super good) member of the crew team. I loved the full-body workout I got from it, I loved being on the water, but stopped the activity once I graduated and moved to a place where being part of an 8-member boat on a regular basis was no longer really an option. A decade-plus later, I now have picked up kayaking/canoeing at the lakes and rivers around my home, and have been able to recapture the love of open water I once enjoyed. However... I'm realizing I miss the whole-body workout aspect, and have taken to getting this via an indoor rowing machine instead. I'm starting to wonder if it'd be possible to row in a kayak-like boat, if this is a thing that even exists.

Ideally, I'm looking for a boat that's built like a kayak but rows like a racing shell. In order of importance, this means:

- it has a sliding seat and is rigged for two oars (i.e. not paddled like a kayak)
- lightweight (under 75 pounds? possibly made of plastic-ish material like many kayaks are)
- low-maintenance (I want to be able to hose it down, leave it in my garage and mostly forget about it)

Is this a thing? Is there anything in existence that's even close? My haphazard googling has led me to Echo rowing shells, which look sort of what I'm looking for, but I don't know if they're reputable or if there's a simpler solution somewhere that I'm missing.

Bonus if it's only a few thousand US$ or less...

BIG bonus if it could be found anywhere near northern CA.

Please help, boaty MeFites! I'd throw together my own skiff if I could, but that probably wouldn't end well.
posted by DeadliestQuack to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A quick search on sliding seats for canoes looked promising.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 PM on July 7, 2013

I used to row an Alden Ocean Shell for futzing around on the lake. The Ocean Shell appears to be out of production, but there's this: "The Alden 16 is the most popular recreational rowing shell in the world. It delivers satisfying speed, and can be rowed by anyone, anywhere, at anytime." 58 lbs rigged, $3195, oars sold separately.

Alden is also now flogging a sculling rig for SUP, which frankly looks ridiculous to me, but might meet your criteria.
posted by Orinda at 11:59 PM on July 7, 2013

Googling "recreational rowing shell" turned up a couple more options just on the first page of results. It's hard to tell from the description of any of these whether the craft would be as low-maintenance as a typical rotomolded kayak. I certainly would not throw carbon fiber oars around the way I casually chuck my $100 kayak paddle on the ground, and the moving parts of a rowing rig (sliding seat, oarlocks) are going to require some lubrication and care that just doesn't apply to kayaking gear.
posted by Orinda at 12:10 AM on July 8, 2013

Also (with apologies for the serial answers): keep an eye on the Craigslist boats for sale section in your area. Rowing shells are rare beasts compared to kayaks and canoes but you just might find something suitable at a great discount—I bought my kayak from someone who had bought it brand new, tried it out once or twice, and decided she didn't want to take up the hobby after all. That seems to be a surprisingly common phenomenon.
posted by Orinda at 12:20 AM on July 8, 2013

Whitehalls are gorgeous but they're not inexpensive.
posted by islander at 12:23 AM on July 8, 2013

An Adirondack Guideboat might be what you're looking for. I hopped in one at a boat show a couple of years ago, and I have been dreaming about owning one ever since. The kevlar ones are pretty light and durable like a canoe (a 14 foot boat is 80 lbs), but it's a rowboat. There's no sliding seat, so that may disqualify it from your consideration. But I think the advantage of an Adirondack guideboat over a rowing shell is that you can take other people out with you really easily, so it's a bit more of a versatile boat, like a canoe.

If you like the looks of the guideboat, make sure you get in one before you buy it though. The oars are fixed, and they're built so they overlap a little in the middle, just like in a whitewater rafting set-up. That was one of the reasons why I loved the guideboat so much, but my mom, who grew up rowing without fixed oars that overlap, hated it. I've never rowed on a crew team, so I don't know what you'd be used to.
posted by colfax at 3:56 AM on July 8, 2013

From the same site that colfax linked to is the Vermont Fishing Dory which looks like it might be up your alley.

There's also the Gloucester Light Dory, which is great to row and simple to build. You might be able to find someone nearby who's knocking them out of their garage for about (or maybe a little less) than your price point.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:56 AM on July 8, 2013

The Maas Aero was the first single I ever took out. I don't know that I'd describe it as being like a kayak, exactly, but it's reasonably light (39 lbs) and incredibly stable, even in choppy water with a new sculler at the oars. Looks like a new one is about $4k.
posted by Serf at 12:38 PM on July 8, 2013

« Older Celexa's not working anymore. Should I give...   |   Help me re-do my to-do list Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.