Ocean Rowing – Miscellaneous Info

Going to the Toilet:  Bucket and chuck works for many. Be sure to partially fill bucket with water prior to use.  Alternatively one can hang over the side of the boat (this is what we did).  Derrieres can be washed with splashing waves.

Washing:  Fresh water is a scare commodity.  Bucket showers using seawater is good.  Be sure to use soap designed for sea water.

Watches:  Two hours on and two hours off works for most.

Storms:  Secure all loose materials.  Make sure nothing will be washed off the deck if the boat rolls and lash oars securely.  Release drogue or sea anchor if required.  Have a ready supply of snack foods for nourishment.  Ride out storm in cabin.

Ventilation:  In the tropics it gets very hot with two people cooped up inside a double-coffin-sized cabin.  If the cabin is fully sealed, the hatch must be opened briefly every half hour to replenish oxygen.  A good ventilation system reduces the temptation, or necessity, to open the hatch, therefore ensuring more seaworthy conditions.  A common cause for ocean rowboats not self-righting is because of open hatches.  A roof- mounted ventilator should have the ability to be instantly sealed if the boat capsizes to prevent water entry.  Alternatively, a large plumbing hose can run down from the ventilator to a point below the inverted waterline.  This will prevent water entry in the event of capsize. A small electric fan is also an excellent addition to counter hot, sweaty conditions.

Holed Boat: If the boat sustains damage from hitting floating debris, or other factors, repair is possible.  Unlike sailboats where the vessel can quickly sink if it is holed, a rowboat is multi-chambered so a hole in the hull will only cause certain sections to flood.  In the event of being holed, a piece of plywood can be cut to cover the damaged area.  Screws should be pre-screwed, no more than two inches apart, around the perimeter, and the joining face covered liberally with underwater caulking.  This plywood can then be placed over the hole and screwed into place.  Robertson head screws are best.  It may be necessary to be in the water to complete the job using a mask and snorkel.  If your screwdriver doesn’t float take precautions not to lose it.  Once the hole has been patched, pump the water out of the flooded compartments.

Scupper Flaps:  One-way flaps over the scuppers promote mono-directional flow of the water (so it washes off your decks and not on).  Definitely recommended.

Packing the boat: There are two main things to consider when packing; accessibility and weight distribution.  Heavy materials should be packed low in the boat and away from the bow and stern.  Some areas of the boat are much easier to access than other areas.  Think about your needs and pack accordingly.  Draw a map of the boat’s compartments and list where all the items are stored.  Otherwise you will forget where things are, and full-scale searches are not fun in bucking rowboats.  Keep an inventory of stores.