The Fairhaven Flyer is a sturdily constructed, easily rowed light dory. It is also simple to build since Sam Devlin, a master of stitch-and-glue boat design and building, refined the dory into a sleek, elegant shape created by three scarfed marine-plywood panels and a laminated plywood transom. If necessity is the mother of invention, then I am a bit involved in the birth of the 20′ 4″ Flyer.

I had built a 17′ 4″ Devlin-designed Oarling, equipped it with a sliding seat and outrigged oarlocks, and rowed it through the Canadian Gulf Islands 15 years ago. The following year, Sam and I discussed what design changes would be needed for a similar, but larger boat for me to row solo from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Bellingham, Washington. The boat would have to handle potentially large ocean swells, have reserve buoyancy that would lift the stern above breakers when driving through surf toward a beach landing, plus carry me and up to 700 lbs of food, clothing, and camping, cooking, and anchoring equipment. Simply stretching the Oarling would not produce the performance I needed.

The author's Fairhaven Flyer, BELLA, was built or solo expeditions, with watertight compartments in the ends and a single rowing rig.photographs by the author

The author's Fairhaven Flyer, BELLA, was built for solo expeditions, with watertight compartments in the ends and a single rowing rig.

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