FAST ROWBOAT, 18' X 3', 70 POUNDS EMPTY
Batto is sort of a "retro"
boat. Every now and then I go over another designer's
older design and try to update it to the way I do boats.
I always learn a bit. Batto is a close copy of the Pete
Culler clipper bateau Otter which appears in John Burke's
book PETE CULLER'S BOATS. Batto is only very slightly
different in shape and size from the original Otter and
is in no way intended to be a parody of it, only a reworking
to the type of construction I prefer. Burke points out
that the boat is about as close as you can get to a racing
shell with traditional hull, and that it was unforgiving
and cranky if improperly used and very elegant and fast
if properly used. I would prefer it to be thought of an
exercise boat meant for one. Supposedly Culler judged
the boat to be safe to handle one third of a person by
proposed Coast Guard regulations. I found Burke's book
to be very good reading.
The big departure I've made from Culler's
work is that I've used "instant" plywood construction,
something that Culler didn't like at all. He had a long
lifetime of experience with traditional methods and tools
and materials by the time he built Otter and Burke says
he built her in a one week vacation, with lapstrake sides,
cross planked bottom, and all the gingerbread. In the
photos it is a true work of functional folk art. Batto
won't be in the same league as a work of art, but it should
actually be a better boat by almost all other criteria.
Built taped seam style with no jigs from 3 sheets of 1/4"
plywood, Batto will be a 40 hour project for most any
man and will be lighter and faster than the original.
Culler used very long special rowlocks
to get the proper oar location in the very low and narrow
hull. (You won't be able to stand up in it.) That replaced
the need for outriggers which, I can attest to, are a
pain for a cartop boat. I think the Culler locks are worth
a try, if only because they can be easily removed and
replaced. For that matter the boat would take a sliding
seat very easily. I'm certain Phil Bolger would quickly
point out that locks tilted 45 degrees like these aren't
worth a hoot. And he'd say that the hull needs more rocker.
But I guess that shows how two very experienced designers
can have very different experiences. I know for a fact
that the narrow Culler oars work very well although Phil
never liked them.
The prototype Batto
was built by Ray Schaefer of Brooklyn, NY. He is a very
experienced builder and oarsman. He writes, "Here
is Batto in action, Harry Rasmussen test pilot. Slick
as snot. Fastest fixed seat I ever rowed. It's a pleasure
to row into a good wind and make good progress."
"Oars are Culler style 8'8"
cedar and redwood with inboard looms not square anymore.
Fitted 2" PVC in place of leathers and PVC collars,
2 more layers, additional pieces glued and faired for
D shape. So far so good, not too many miles on them.
Last 3 pair of oars fitted with lead counter weights
as per Bolger/Montgomery, this pair 8 oz sinkers hammered
to cylinders, epoxied in ends of handles last year.
Works good. Anything helps as you get older."
"Outriggers are 3/4" SS
tube from cast off bow rail, tough stuff to bend cold
with a hickey Slug of 3/4" x 1-1/2" welded
in outboard ends, 1/2" thole pins welded to them
for Bolger style locks. Lug of 1" x 1/8" SS
welded under for 16 x 1 x 1/8 strut leading forward.
One 1/4" bolt, loosen screws on 3/4" tubing
clamps and lift out."
He did elaborate
on the construction a bit. Looks very nice!