Q. I am a 75-year-old female who spends summers on Lake Vermilion in Minnesota. I’d like to find a rowboat that I can take out on the lake, either by myself or with my fisherman husband of 55 years. He’ll troll and I’ll row. I have yet to see rowboats offered for sale or rent in our part of northern Minnesota. Can you help me find one? – Kathryn Allen, Columbia, Mo.A. First of all, let me say that your husband is a lucky man indeed. And I admire your penchant for manual power in these fossil fuel-powered times. I am also pleased to let you know that you are not alone, as the popularity of paddle craft in general has soared in recent years, and rowboats in particular are gaining a growing following among recreational rowers and anglers alike. In fact, in Wisconsin there are lakes where it is only legal to troll using propulsion by wind, paddle or oar. Such is not the case on 40,000-acre Lake Vermilion, where there are no such restrictions or horsepower limits on the boats cruising the popular northeast Minnesota waterway. Manick Docks & Recreation, a Sylvan boats dealership in Cook, Minn., can order you an aluminum rowboat from Sylvan’s parent company Smoker Craft, which offers a 14-foot rowing model ($1,850) in their Canadian line of utility boats, as well as several other row-powered models.
If you are seeking a more traditional rowing craft, I suggest contacting Alex Comb of Stewart River Boatworks in Knife River, about 100 miles south of Lake Vermilion on Lake Superior. Comb handcrafts wooden rowing boats for shipment nationwide, and offers a classic 15-foot, 6-inch Fishdance model ($6,495, see photo above) or a lapstrake Good Skiff ($6,595). Adirondack Guide Boat also sells wooden rowboats (starting at $14,960), and Gig Harbor Boat Works has fiberglass composite models (starting at $1,600) that perform like traditional wooden boats. Lastly, aluminum rowing models (12–16 feet) are available from popular boat manufacturers like Lowe Boats, Lund and Alumacraft. Each of these companies’ websites features a dealer locator to help you find the one closest to you.
By Dan Armitage
Resources• Manick Docks & Recreation, www.manickdocks.com
• Smoker Craft, www.smokercraft.com
• Stewart River Boatworks, www.stewartriver.com
• Adirondack Guide Boat, www.adirondack-guide-boat.com
• Gig Harbor Boat Works, www.ghboats.com
• Lowe Boats, www.loweboats.com
• Lund, www.lundboats.com
• Alumacraft, www.alumacraft.com