One of my customers, who had built an Oarling previously and had rowed it quite a bit around Puget Sound, came to me on an early spring day in 2005 and had an interesting request. Her name was Dale McKinnon and she was setting her goals on being the first woman to solo row the Northwest passage from Alaska to Puget Sound in Washington State and the second woman ever to row that same passage following Betty Lowman Carey who did the trip from Guemes Island in Puget Sound north to Ketchikan in 1937 but not as a solo trip. Dale had very strong ideas on what the new boat needed to do for the trip and her experience with the Oarling design informed her very well in deciding features on the new design. She had a very short amount of time allocated to building the new boat and she virtually had no time to sea-trial and adjust the boat after the build before transporting the new boat named Bella to Ketchikan for the start of the trip. So I threw out all the other projects that I was working on and focused on the new design in order to meet her deadline. The design was named the Fairhaven Flyer and Dales trip in 2005 was an epic and fantastic adventure. During one phase of the voyage, she even encountered another of our Devlin Family of boats cruising the Northwest Passage, one of my Sockeye 45 designs the Edwin S. Dawson and I heard many reports of sightings of her during the trip. Dales trip was a successful one and it has left her with the prospect of other voyages to add to her accomplishments.
It took me many years to go back to the design, blow the dust off the original drawings and finish her up for our home-builder market. So with a bit of fresh thinking, the Fairhaven Flyer design has come to light for the rest of us. Here are her specifications — this is a boat with the capability to be either rowed as a recreational single or double oarsman, or a single with a passenger or two. She can also be used for expedition-type rowing with a single oarsman and gear enough for a trip of some ambition like Dales trip from Alaska to Washington State in 2005. With some snap on canvas covers for the bow and stern and the simple addition of a couple of bulkheads to divide up the bow and stern stowage sections, gear could be kept stowed away, safe and dry and the reserve buoyancy of the two covered areas reduces the cockpit to a smaller section for truly ambitious expedition work. All this is done with a good looking dory type hull which has the unique quality of allowing a broad variety of loading to be applied to the boat without degrading the performance or the speed and rowing ability of the boat. Dories are simply the best hull shape for doing this and allow the boat to be the most sea-worthy possible for the type. With a drop in sliding seat, you can arrange the boat to be convertible between all the uses stated above with just a couple of bolts set up with an allen wrench.
We look forward to hearing of other ambitious and adventurous customers dreaming up their own voyages. — Sam Devlin