Pacific Rowboat

Pacific Rowboat2017-01-02T12:38:35+00:00

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LOA 28’-0”, LWL 26’-5/16”, B 5’-0”, D 1’-0”, DISPL 2,590 Lbs.

This was my last professional boat design and which was the fulfillment of one of my dreams—to design an ocean-going rowboat. Jacob Hendrickson, a retired Air Force pilot and still in his 30s, approached me with a request for help in locating a designer to help him design and build a boat that he could row solo, non-stop, across the Pacific Ocean from North America to Australia. Only one other person had ever attempted such a passage, British rower Peter Bird in 1982, and he did not succeed. He had to be rescued by the Australian Navy about a quarter mile off the Great Barrier Reef. Jacob wanted to be the first to succeed, and he wanted to do a longer voyage from Washington near Seattle. For me, as I said, this was a dream come true, if it panned out. So many boat design requests begin “I want to build a boat, but I don’t have any money” for which there is only one reply: “Sorry, I can’t help you.” But if Jacob proved financially able, then I might be able to fulfill this 30+-year dream to design an offshore voyaging rowboat. I replied: “I’m your man.”

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The design proceeded from January to October 2015 with very detailed drawings and specifications for cored fiberglass construction with carbon fiber as an option. Initial prices solicited from some northeast boatbuilders came in between $150,000 to $200,000, which is about what I expected, but maybe a little beyond Jacob’s budget. But he is resourceful and committed. To prepare for the journey, during the summer of 2015, Jacob pedaled solo across the US on a bicycle to prove that he had the stamina and frame of mind for the solo ocean voyage. Indeed, that trip was part of his Air-Land-Sea endeavor—to live and survive in each element. The Air Force flying A-10 Warthogs in Afghanistan was the Air; the bike ride across the US was the Land; and the ocean row across the Pacific will be the Sea.

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As this is being written (January 2016), another British rower has just completed the San Francisco, CA-to-Cairns, Australia voyage—Peter Bird’s route—for the first time, rowing solo, non-stop in a 20’ boat. So now Jacob won’t be the first to do this particular voyage, but he may become the first American to make the row, and perhaps the person to row the longest solo non-stop voyage to date. Jacob has contracted with Schooner Creek Boat Works in Portland, OR, to begin construction of the boat in cored carbon fiber composites while he continues to fly corporate aircraft to earn more money for the boat and the voyage. You can follow progress of the building of the boat on Jacob’s website. We wish him luck in his next adventure.

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