Saturday, January 28, 2012

Atlantic 17: The Homepage

Rowing on open water is the rare and cleansing pursuit: health, adventure, deep thought, and endless renewal ride the grips of oars that move enlightened hulls with kinetic human energy.          

With more than a decade of successful, satisfactory service, the Atlantic 17 is a proven design that has fulfilled its original purpose: a versatile open water rowing boat suitable for novice and experienced rower alike.

 Atlantic 17 owned by Salvy Raciti (photo courtesy of Salvy Raciti)

      This site is dedicated to the support and advocacy of the Atlantic 17 design. Information on building, acquiring, owning, and using the Atlantic 17 is to be included, along with the photos, stories, and experiences of Atlantic 17 owners. Specific articles are listed along the right-side margin, and links to related articles, along with blogspots of interest, may be found at the top of the page.

     On the postings immediately following this page are details on the construction methods used in the Atlantic 17, and information regarding the availability of Plans. Further along are photographs of various examples of this design, and articles offering even more detailed information about these well-tested boats.

The Atlantic 17: Details of Construction and Layout

     The Atlantic 17 is built with plywood planking on plywood frames, using the batten-seam construction method. All parts are bonded with epoxy, and the hull is epoxy/fiberglassed. This makes for a light weight, durable, long-lived boat that will provide many years of reliable service.
Photo courtesy of Salvy Raciti

     The frames are configured to hold parallel seat risers, which in turn allow the seats to be set up for single or double rowing stations. With extra oarlock  sockets, fine tuning for variations in crew weight is possible. A more detailed description of the Atlantic 17 may be found on the posting title: Atlantic 17: Design Retrospective.

     Plans for the Atlantic 17, which include full-size frame patterns and complete building instructions, are available on the Ordering Information page which follows.

Ordering Information

     Plans for the Atlantic 17, which include full size frame patterns and complete building instructions, are available for $60.00 per set plus 8.00 Shipping and Handling. Plans may be ordered at:

Jon Persson Designs
127 Hempstead St.
Apt. 911
New London, Ct.

     Questions may be addressed to Jon at:

Young Rowers Prepare For A First-Time Rowing Experience

     Please note:
     The purchase of one set of plans for the Atlantic 17 entitles the purchaser to build one boat of this design. Where additional or multiple boats are to be built, the following fee schedule will apply:
     I) For clubs (especially rowing clubs, or clubs which advocate for healthy and ecologically sensible outdoor activities); schools, since schools attract young people and young people need things to do that do not include keypads and screens; and non-profit organizations, which exist to do good things and so should be encouraged to do good things; there is no additional fee for building additional boats.
     II) For individuals who purchase a set of plans, and then realize the Atlantic 17  is such a good boat that they must build another, or whose friends or family become jealous and must be supplicated with a boat of their own, a fee of $15.00 per additional boat is expected. This is reasonable weighed against the alternative of telling friends and family to purchase their own set of plans if they want a boat.
     III) Finally, for the commercial builder, whose trade is to build the small boats that will satisfy the demands of the vast and vibrant marketplace for sensible rowing craft: as the Atlantic 17, a proven design with broad appeal, will bring much attention and activity to the builder in way of profitable orders, a fair fee of $30.00 per additional boat is requested.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Atlantic 17: Design Retrospective

     Photo courtesy of Salvy Raciti

      The Atlantic 17 design came about in response to a perceived need for an entry-level open-water rowing boat . At the time, there were many rowing craft to choose from of the fixed-seat, oar on gunwale, traditional type; but, in this designer's view, there was a lack of any boat that fit the "entry-level" criteria. Available boats were either too expensive, too difficult to row, too delicate, too heavy, too something for the beginning rower to invest in and make use of. At the same time, it seemed that it should be possible to produce a design that would be both forgiving enough for the novice rower and rewarding enough for the experienced rower; which would be simple enough to be built economically or from plans or kit by an amateur builder; and, which would be seaworthy, durable, yet light enough to be handled off a beach, float, or small dolly.

     My first reference point in approaching this design was to review the 17 foot Herreshoff/Gardner  rowing boat Green Machine which is at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. This seemed entirely appropriate, as Francis Herreshoff had invited people to consider his original design as a starting point for developing a new breed of saltwater rowing craft, a baton picked up by John Gardner when he widened the design to allow for a wider oarlock placement. This latter change came at the suggestion of Allan Vaitses who for years rowed a boat of the original design, Herreshoff himself approved and praised the modification as a clear improvement.

     However, the  Green Machine, while considerably simpler to build than a guideboat or Whitehall, is still a bit laborious to build for the purpose and criteria in mind herein, which is to draw new rowers into the healthful and purely sustainable activity of rowing on open bodies of water. It seemed important to lower any obstacles and smooth the way for people to try this activity, in a vessel that would be easy to use for the beginner while providing a long, useful life as the rower gained experience. This needed to be done in a craft both simple and economical to acquire.

     From these two influences came the working proportions; 17 feet long, 48 inches beam (slightly more than Green Machine's), 15 inches depth amidships. I opted for a double-chine design, which adds initial stability and buoyancy compared to the single-chine of a Banks-style dory, while being considerably simpler than the Herreshoff/Gardner or traditional rowing boats. It was also important that construction be entirely of plywood, since this is economical and stable to work with. 

     As is my normal practice, I began with a half-model, from which I developed my working lines drawing. The original model was 18 inches wide at the midship section, which seemed like the correct number to work with. I decided, for simplicity's sake, to make this a symetrical double-ender. As the half-model developed, it became apparent that I was in fact designing a 17 foot, simplified version of a Gunning Dory, which meant the final boat would be exceptionally seaworthy, having ample reserve buoyancy in the ends. The basic design was completed in late 1999, and in early 2000 an order was received for what would be the first of four prototype versions leading up to the final Atlantic 17 design.

     This first boat was built on moulds, with a tack-and-tape bottom chine and chine-batten at the second strake. I ended up adding a midship frame to stiffen the boat a bit. There was a seatbox with movable seats and footstretchers at the centerline of the boat. This boat was used for a number of years by her owner, who was an experienced rower and owner of many small boats. 

      The second Atlantic 17 was built as a pure prototype and display boat. It was also built to test the updated engineering behind the construction as it had evolved from the first boat. I decided to build the Atlantics on five plywood frames instead of on moulds, and to use chine battens at both of the chines. To test the concept, I used lower grade (AC Fir) plywood throughout, fiberglassed the hull using polyester resin, and did not epoxy-fillet the frames to the hull. The idea was to use the boat in a normal fashion, and see where any structural problems might emerge; those areas would then be modified and strengthened on the final production version.

     One thing that emerged with this boat was that the bottom and garboard shapes needed to be changed. I had toyed with making the garboards a somewhat developed shape, but the result was a slightly pinched look amidships and a too-full look at the ends. So, on the third boat, the bottom was widened amidships to about 20 inches, and the ends were made a bit finer. This also gave the stem profiles a bit more curve at the bottom. A single, permanent thwart was installed.

     Another lesson gained from boat # 2 was that the centerline seatbox was cumbersome, even hazardous, when boarding and de-boarding the boat. This was summarily removed, and some partial frames were added (sheetrock screwed) to the structural frames which would hold a pair of parallel seatrisers  . These allowed simple seats to be used in endlessly adjustable placements for weight adjustment.

     Finally, and with the benefit of an order for three new boats (which are featured in photos on other postings at this blog address), all of the lessons learned were applied to what has become the Atlantic 17. New frames were designed that support and secure the seatrisers; seats and footstretchers were templated and made; and these three boats were built on 5/8 inch frames, planked with 5 mm plywood, sheathed in epoxy-fiberglass.Occuume plywood was used, making these boats even lighter than the 1/4 inch plywood versions (I would use the 1/4 inch plywood on the bottom if I went for lightweight again). The fiberglass cloth overlaps on the bottom, adding strength and abrasion resistance. The frames were filleted using West's filleting thickener; since then I have used the 406 thickener, which is much easier to work with.

     I decided to go with the all-chine batten construction for a number of reasons. First, while it is a bit of work to fit and bevel these, when done they give the builder something to clamp and fasten planking to. They also provide a fair line to work to, which in turns makes it easy to achieve a nice, fair lines boat. And, because small planking pieces are used, these can be fitted, bonded, and fastened without a lot of rush or panic; one may even take a break or a week between planks, a luxury not available with other construction methods. A small skeg is bonded to the hull fiberglass; the 'glass weave is filled and faired with thickened epoxy.

     After more than ten years of use and experience, the Atlantic 17 has proven to be the safe, seaworthy, durable boat for novice and experienced rower alike. People new to rowing have expressed a satisfaction with the "feel" of this design, which is often most of the battle in getting people involved in a new activity. Building the Atlantic 17 requires the same basic skills as a less versatile or comfortable banks-style dory, with a bit more work due to the extra strake of planking. All in all, it seems this design has hit the balancing points needed to qualify a boat design as a continuing success. 


Friday, December 16, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Note and Photos from Long Time Atlantic 17 Owner

Atlantic 17 Owned by Salvy Raciti, Built In 2001

Hello,Jon -- Hope you are doing well. Here is a recent photo of my (12 year old) Atlantic 17.  I use this boat several times a week -- right into November -- and love it completely.
It never disappoints!

Feel free to share this pic (I have many more).

Atlantic 17 Solstice prepares for New Year's Day Row

New Year's Day Row, 2006