About the Urban Oarsman:

 Gwragedd Annwnn drawing

Mike  is The Urban Oarsman.  He started to build Gwragedd Annwn on August 1st, 2011 and launched her on August 21st, 2012.


He rows  “Gwragedd Annwn” in the waters around Vancouver’s Lower Mainland.

She is baised on Phil Bolger’s “Defender” design.   “Gwragedd Annwn” is 130% bigger, 14’6″ long from 11′.  Gwragedd Annwn was built for the 180km row down the Fraser River from Hope to the Hollyburn Sailing Club.


Gwragedd Annwn on a gravel bar in Widgeon Creek.

“Gwragedd Annwn” (goo-RAG-eth ANN oon), named after Welsh water fairies,  is an epoxy & cedar strip built boat displacing 220 lbs. Her LOA is 14’6″, her WL is 14′.  She is 5′ wide and her depth from keel to gunwale is 2′.  She draws 10″ of water giving her 14″ of freeboard.  The spread of her oars is 18′.  She can switch between a fixed-seat or sliding rowing stations.  She has four red cedar “D” section cupped spoon oars, 8′ 6″ long with 125 square inches of blade area.  Each oar weighs less than 5 lbs.  She has Phil Bolger designed oarlocks.

The Urban Oarsman


9 Responses to About the Urban Oarsman:

  1. Allan Harrington says:

    Hi Mike,
    I believe it was you I met at the Hollyburn Sailing Club open house this past community day. I mentioned an old friend Ted Eggert (604-922-3863) who has a beautiful wood sail boat he wishes to sell.
    The boat is an Enterprise with a drooping E which I am told is a extended hull. He has kept the boat and trailer immaculately and his current age and mobility does not allow him to use it. He is an X British Navy man, Policeman and Veteran.
    He has no computer and I was wondering if you could phone him to give some direction on selling his boat.
    With thanks,

  2. Lou Parsons says:


    I used to row… an ugly, converted, 17 foot ‘frieghter’ canoe, but much better than the kayaking I’d been doing locally for years. And in a few days (this being the 15th November, 2014) I’ll have a new boat. See http://www.boothboats.com/whitehall/

    Your blog has given me a few hours of pleasure, some interesting perspectives on rigging out a boat, and I hope you’ll post again in the future.




  3. Jim McDowell says:

    I am an independent historian based in Steveston, currently writing a guidebook to historic locations in the Vancouver area. One of those locations is “Noon Breakfast Point” near Wreck Beach. I have taken adequate photos from the shore, but I need a few from the water. Do you have any suggestions as to how I might accomplish that task at reasonable expense? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
    Jim McDowell
    Author of UNCHARTED WATERS: THE EXPLORATIONS OF JOSE NARVAEZ (1768–1840), Ronsdale Press, 2015.

  4. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for posting your well-documented voyages.

    I needed to know the name of the treed island looking NE from the Pattullo Bridge. After a bit of googling, I found the information on your site. Thanks very much for your post!

    I hope to see more of your voyages online. It’s an eye-opener to see how everyday locations look from water level.

    I’m also wondering if you’ve ever made a trip to Poplar Island?

    Thanks again for all the effort that you have put into sharing your insights from your rowboat.


  5. Vic says:

    Hi Mike,
    Just discovered your website…pretty interesting stuff…reflects your passion about the rowing of things…I have just acquired a 14′ cosine wherry, Cedar strip…build by Oyster Bay boats….I’m going to be picking it up probably next week…I’m now wrestling with how to power this boat..ie. oars..the beam is 54″ so the oarlock distance is about 52″‘thinking of getting oars maybe 8 ‘ 4 ” long…but hard to find…I think I’ve decided on non spoon oars. I favour longer narrower blades, easier to manage in any weather….also, which material..Cedar? Spruce?…any thoughts about all of this would be much appreciated
    Thanks Vic

  6. Greg Euler says:

    I am not sure if you can help me, I am looking for information on an old teacher of mine named Ken Douglas who was a boat builder

  7. Chris Rorres says:

    Hello . . .

    I am a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics with Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, USA, and am preparing a research paper on Archimedes’ influence on ship design. Some time ago I ran across an image of a deadhead log on one of your webpages and downloaded it. Unfortunately, I lost track of the webpage from which I downloaded it. I was wondering if you would give me permission to include it in my paper. I will, of course, give you any credit for it that you desire.


    Chris Rorres
    My Archimedes Web Site: https://www.math.nyu.edu/~crorres/Archimedes/contents.html

    • Hello Chris,

      I have sent you an email with the two deadhead photos from the post attached. You have my permission to use them as you see fit in your paper. A credit to the Urban Oarsman would be appreciated.


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