Modified 'Ruth' skin-on-frame rowboat

Documenting the building of a Skin-on-Frame Wherry

Introduction:      [March 18,2023]

This will be our fifth skin-on-frame boat build. Although the photo above looks somewhat like a smaller version of our Chamberlain Gunning Dory it is a totally different design also by Dave Gentry. As designed his 'Ruth' high performance wherry would be 18' long with a beam of 33" and could weigh as little as 45 lbs. Our slightly modified version will be 16' long and will have an inch more freeboard (depth).

I've made these changes for a couple of reasons. Length: 1)We have found that 18' boats are a bit longer than is easy to store in our boat shed. 2) Shorter means lighter, and 3)rowed/paddled boats 16' or less don't need to be registered in Michigan. It seemed prudent to add a little depth to the hull for safety while rowing on Lake Michigan and because of the slight reduction in buoyancy caused by shortening the boat.

One other minor change will be the use of heavier, 13 oz. polyester fabric rather than the specified 8 oz. material. As it turns out that lighter fabric is no longer available from George Dyson or any of the other sources I've researched. This 13 oz. fabric is the same as the material we used to cover our dory back in 2015 and it has held up really well. I'm still undecided as to whether to varnish or paint the boat. We and others have found that oil-based finishes tend to cause the covering to wrinkle so I may at least prime the hull with a water-based spar urethane.

More soon ...

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