Boats Are Like Golf Clubs, Part II Page 2

Spectator — June 2001

By Tom Fexas

Boats Are Like Golf Clubs,
Part II
Part 2: Rowing Shell and Commuter Boat
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: More Boats
• Part 2: More Boats continued
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I need (and presently own) a rowing shell because it allows me to combine my love of boating with exercise. While you can get the same exercise in a plain old rowboat, plain old rowboats do not have the sex appeal of rowing machines with all the neat stuff: foot stirrups, a sliding seat, outriggers, long spoon-blade carbon fiber oars, and a splinter hull capable of probably twice the speed of a rowboat.

The only downside of recreational rowing is that people ashore or aboard other boats simply cannot resist yelling "stroke, stroke, stroke" as you quietly slide by them. Be prepared to ignore them or holler back some clever phrase like, "Screw you, buddy, and the mule you rode in on."

I love commuter boats, and I would have to have one in my fleet. Commuters are just about the coolest boats ever produced on this planet. True commuter boats were built to ferry their wealthy owners from estates on Long Island down to Wall Street and back. Speed was what counted most, so the boats were light and extremely narrow, power was high (for the day), and accommodations were minimal.

Of course, these wealthy owners did not get the big bucks from sitting on their butts. They were very competitive people, so naturally, racing to and from work was common, with the fastest boats held in high esteem. Owners would continually build new vessels to beat their neighbors to Wall Street. A few of these boats, like Jem, Pam, Aphrodite, and Ragtime, still exist, so the dream of owning one is not completely hopeless, but their numbers are dwindling fast. I need my commuter to be 70 feet long with a beam of 11 feet, powered by twin 800-hp diesels so I can blow by modern vessels of the same size with four times the horsepower while pulling a tight little wake behind me.

Yes, these are the essential boats in my maritime golf bag. Of course, having all of them is no good if I have to keep them outside exposed to the elements, so I will need a huge boathouse for the lot and unlimited time and money to maintain the fleet. In fact, my ideal life would be to have nothing to do but fool with the boats listed above. Which brings me to the classic boat conundrum: "When you have the time, you don't have the money, and when you have the money, you don't have the time." A sad state of affairs indeed.

Tom Fexas is a marine engineer and designer of powerboats. His Web site is

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This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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