LOA 18 feet (5.46 metres)
Beam 46 inches (1.17 metres)
Homebuilt by Arthur Pretty (Christchurch) and launched 30 Sept 2007
Recreational rowing in purpose built rowboats (pulling boats) has been a boating concept for exercise and excursions that has held an appeal for me for a long time. I have also been interested in and sort of fascinated by boat shape, design and methods of construction particularly with wood. To build a boat was a dream.
After seeing a few pulling boats at the Lake Rotoiti (Nelson Lakes) Classic Boat Show around 2002, in particular one ( a Gardner/Herreshoff ) built by Don Currie with length, low freeboard and shape that appealed, I obtained John Gardner’s book from the library ‘Building Classic Small Craft’. I found and studied the article/chapter on the ‘Herreshoff Rowboat ‘. Gardner had drawn his plans based on an original L F Herreshoff rowboat design and provides offsets/cross section measurements.
Some years later when I had time on my hands, I drew to scale the offsets and realised then that I had a start by being able to make patterns for cross section frames. This I proceeded to do building 5 frames by laminating each frame with 3 thicknesses of kauri recycled from an old set of kitchen cupboard drawers. (This was a departure from Gardners construction method with 46 separate small rib frames 23 per side.)
The next hurdle was setting up a work station to really build the boat. Wayne Foley in Blenheim helped by simply saying “Just glue (epoxy resin) your wooden work stools to the concrete floor of your garage, set up and fix 2 parallel bearers, set up customwood moulds and sister your kauri frames to these…”. So, my vehicle was evicted to weather the elements and construction proper commenced.
I was never sure that I was not wasting a whole heap of my time until the boat was lifted off the moulds and set down right way up. Then I could see with much satisfaction that this project was on course. Up until then, being built upside down it didn’t look pretty. I had taken liberties changing shape of bow and stern and created increased sheer to the bow. Had I made a mistake somewhere or would there be a twist in the hull?
Incidentally, each ply plank required 2 scarf joints (12:1). Each corresponding pair of planks (starboard/port) took me about a full week to shape a pattern out of thinline customwood, transfer this pattern to ply, shape and glue up scarfs, bevel one continuous edge for a 20 mm plank overlap, bevel the face of kauri frames and finally screw and glue fix.
After that it was progress bit by bit doing outer stems, seat risers and gunwales (some good curves here requiring persuasion to bend kauri with steam/hot water), designing and making seats (thwarts). And of course painting and varnishing.
Bee’s Knees is rowed regularly most weeks on the Christchurch Estuary and occasionally at Lyttelton, Lake Rotoiti and Waikawa Bay.
Thanks to Don Currie for rowlocks (bronze offset fork type) and instruction on making a really nice set of curved blade balanced oars that ideally complement the boat.
Bee’s Knees was awarded the trophy for Best Non Powered Boat at the Rotoiti Classic Boat Show 2008. Wooden Boat magazine published a photo in the Launchings section – magazine # 207.