by Seb Borrello member of the Thousand Islands chapter

When we saw the Penn Yan Cartopper in front of a small cottage on a back road near Clayton NY, we screeched to a stop. Sure enough it had a For Sale sign on it. No trailer and no oars but a good-looking hull with all the necessary brass seat supports and freshly painted canvas. The price was right, so we got an old trailer and hauled it to our cottage on the St. Lawrence River.

We planned to use the Cartopper as our rowboat for exercise and a nice way to enjoy the shallow water of Blind Bay. We built a boat ramp with a winch so we could keep it clean and out of reach of water creatures. But when the wind came up strong waves smashed against the transom and water poured into the hull. With all this water in the boat it was actually more resistant to big waves. So our Penn Yan gets a bath in stormy weather. But she can take it with her strong ribbed hull. We got a set of old oars, mushroom anchor, skiff chair and canvas cover to fit it out. We did try an electric trolling motor but it was just a bother.

The best rowing route was to head out to the shipping channel, near Watch Island, go down river past Rock Island Lighthouse and circle around Isle of Pines Island. The challenge was to fight the current and wind getting back to the ramp. We did have a little leak at the keel near the bow that we treated with a thin epoxy which penetrated the seams and plugged the hole. Easy to care for, this little boat is always ready to ply the great St. Lawrence River.

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