VIREO, LIGHT ROWBOAT, 12' X 45",
60 POUNDS EMPTY
Vireo is a very light and simple boat
with lines that make for very surprising performance.
A while back I built a dink called WeeVee which was the
usual 7-1/2' long. It had a V bottom full length and had
to be quite deep in the V to get enough capacity (displacement)
to carry anything. I've always thought is was one of the
fastest rowing dinks ever built as it would go 4 mph with
medium effort, unheard of for such a short boat. But the
deep V made for problems, the worst being that it made
beaching a challenge. The bottom of the V was 9"
below the waterline in usual trim so as you approached
the beach the center of the V would ground first usually
well before you made the shore. And there you balanced
precariously until you threw a foot over the side and
got wet. It was OK when launching from a dock, of course,
but I seldom do that. Later I found I could heel the boat
over when approaching shore and get in a lot closer but
it was always tricky. She was a bit tippy but that was
no problem once you were seated.
So that's how you learn and things evolved
quickly into Vireo. Vireo is over 50% longer than WeeVee
but is still only 12' long. She has a long lean bow for
splitting waves. The V of her bottom is a lot shallower
than with WeeVee and although she still needs heeling
when beaching, the angle of the heeling is greatly reduced.
I think this shape has great potential,
perhaps is the fastest of of any simple plywood shape.
Here is why I say that. I try to draw these such that
at normal weights the chines will not push through the
water, that is to say they are normally above the waterline.
Only the two bottom panels flow through the water. Those
two panels join only at the centerline and in straight
motion no water would cross that joint. So the flow is
smoothly down two gently curving panels with no joints
or complications. In addition, the shape makes for a boat
that cuts chop and likes to go straight. But the V bottom
means it won't beach as well or be as easy to move around
in as a boat with a flat bottom panel.
The first Vireo was built by Charles
McMahan in Ohio. He used lauan underlayment and lumber
salvaged from motorcycle crates or from the Ohio River.
The Vireo in the photo was a deluxe version built by Frank
Kahr of Providence, RI. Frank wrote me:
"Yesterday I accomplished a long
term goat by rowing from Providence to Newport in a Vireo
I built from your plans. This was trip of approximately
26 statute miles which took 6 hours, 12 minutes. I had
a little help from a fair tide, but this was still a good
time for a long trip made without great physical effort."
"I think the Vireo is a good balance
of light weight, seaworthiness, and speed. A longer narrower
boat would be faster, but would also be less stable and
would have less spread at the oarlocks. I built mine from
6mm Okoume plywood with a permanent center rowing thwart.
It weighs only 57 pounds and is very easily managed out
of the water. I have built several other small boats and
this one went together easily in about 30 hours. The plans
were very clear."
Taped seam construction from three sheets
of 1/4" plywood. No jigs or lofting required.