Friday, August 19, 2011

The Bike Aquatic

Single Speed Aquatic Tandem Recumbent (aka Pedal Boat)
Our latest trip along the coast was of the epically off-road variety.

Single Speed Aquatic Tandem Recumbent (aka Pedal Boat)
Behold the single speed aquatic tandem recumbent, a.k.a. pedal boat! Isn't she a beauty? When I was growing up, we used to pedal these things around small lakes, but I had no idea they could be taken out into the ocean. Turns out there is a whole culture out there of self-propelled ocean travel, including transatlantic voyages. The boats used for those are a tad more sophisticated, but this one is just fine for pedaling leisurely along the coast.

Bike/Swim Duathlon
The local rental place assured us that these boats are marvelously stable and virtually impossible to flip over. We experimented, and are pleased to confirm this. Very safe and reliable, even in turbulent water.

Single Speed Aquatic Tandem Recumbent (aka Pedal Boat)
Operating the pedal boat was much more effortful than we expected! Ocean water is rougher than lake water, and pedaling this thing felt like riding a single speed bicycle that is geared way too high.

Single Speed Aquatic Tandem Recumbent (aka Pedal Boat)
Feeling as if we were treading through thick mud as we rode the waves and tried to stay on course, we soon longed for gears and foot retention. At least the adjustable seats allowed for full leg extension.

Pedaling Along the Coast
Despite our slow progress along the coast, the whole thing was ridiculously fun. It took me some time just to calm down from the excitement of being out in the ocean on a pedal boat.

Pedaling with the Sailboats
We went as far out as we dared, pedaling among the sailboats and lobster boats and imagining what it would be like to cross the Atlantic on one of these things.

Single Speed Aquatic Tandem Recumbent (aka Pedal Boat)
We pedaled into some of the tiny harbors and beaches that line this part of the coast and took photos from angles that would have been impossible from the shore. We docked outside a cafe and I jumped out to buy us some coffee - just for the fun of having done this. And for the first time in maybe 10 years I wore boat shoes on an actual boat.

Bike/Swim Duathlon
We are both pretty comfortable in the water, and at some point we took turns swimming next to the boat. I wish I had the nerve to do this way out in the ocean - but after having seen sharks on Cape Cod for the past two summers I am cautious about that stuff, so this was fairly close to shore.

Single Speed Aquatic Tandem Recumbent (aka Pedal Boat)
After three hours we returned the boat, utterly exhausted. Pedaling it felt very much like cycling - though so strenuous that you'd have to be in pretty good shape to do any serious touring along the coast. I cannot help now but wonder what the "serious" pedal boats feel like to operate - I imagine not very different from a recumbent bicycle, not that I have any experience with those either. I am happy to have found a way to combine my love of the ocean with cycling. Pedal boat, we will meet again!

27 comments:

  1. the last time i went pedal boating was over 10 years ago, and i had such a hard time with the pedals (like in the fifth picture). the virtual crank length was so short that i couldn't even really pedal. seeing as it was made to be versatile for kids and adults, i guess that makes sense, but with a 6'5" frame, short 100mm cranks don't do anything for me.

    nevertheless, this looks like a fantastic adventure i might need to take my kids on!

    it hadn't occurred to me that there would be "high-end" pedal boats, but a aquatic recumbent sounds fun!

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  2. So this didn't "plane" for you????

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  3. http://www.mission-base.com/pedal-power/pp_main.html

    Here's a link to a great pedal boat designer. It's surprising how large and sea worthy these boats can be. I'm a biker and sea kayak designer and builder but I've not even come close to combining the two. Other have though.

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  4. What a lovely adventure that was. It's been too long since I last saw the ocean.

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  5. Yes, I have read about people crossing oceans on special pedal boats...(and going nuts in the process). I know my husband would love to have a specialized pedal boat. I have never seen good old pedal boats in the ocean, but why not? It's all kayak kayak kayak. kayaks are great, I have one, but a few outings getting caught in rough weather and waters have made me very nervous about kayaking very far from shore.
    In the summer it can be so calm so a pedal boat would be fine. My problem with those little yellow boats is that the pedaling can be hard going at the best of times on calm lakes. They are also the worst shape and design for serious boating. Stable for children and goofing around on a lake yes. And they are fun. It would be neat to have a pedal boat with gearing and such like a regular bike also designed to be sleek and fast.

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  6. Looks like a blast! I've always thought recumbant bikes looked uncomfortable, despite their reputation, as it seems like they would put a lot of stress on your lower back. Did you find that any parts ached after doing this?

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  7. I own a pedal bike, a lot different than that one. Mine is all aluminum, with 2 pontoons and rides 3 people. Bought it about 15 years ago, its on a lake in upper Michigan.

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  8. Ha no it didn't plane : )
    I didn't even think about the crank length, wonder what these were. When I tried to pedal the bike alone, it felt very jerky and I was unable to achieve a smooth pedal stroke. When it pedaled together it was much smoother.

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  9. "Here's a link to a great pedal boat designer"

    Wow. Great, that is all I need!

    Dave T - Is yours easier to pedal than what I described?

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  10. Quite nutty! And the only fixie I'd ride. Nice topsiders shoes. Are they Land's End?

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  11. snarkypup,

    Recumbent bikes are much more comfortable than safety bicycles, including the smugfiets. I have ridden thousands of miles on both over the years. The pedal forces do not strain my lower back at all, which is well supported by the seat. Give it a try!

    Dan.

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  12. Velodog - They are Sperry. I think the boat is direct drive rather than fixed gear? Not sure.

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  13. Man I haven't done that since I was a kid those are fun and a damn workout to.

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  14. PEDAL BOATS? has anyone seen The Triplets Of Bellville? Great animation,Wonderful Jazz, lots of cycling, and yes even pedal boats. One of the best animated films I have ever seen. You better know your Jazz though.

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  15. Sends me back to a whole lot of childhood memories...

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  16. Aaaah, i can now see it. A sister blog called "Lovely Pedal Boat"

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  17. Yeah, also made me think of the Triplets of Belleville. A lot of things do though. No, really.

    My folks have a pedal boat like this. Its a fun and humorous way to get around. And there's room for a beer cooler and rocket launcher.

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  18. Velouria,
    So here's another link to a really nice pedal boat. I'm hoping to one day get to build one of these boats.
    http://store.gartsideboats.com/collections/rowboats-and-a-pedal-boat/products/20-ft-river-cruiser-pedal-boat-blue-skies-design-92

    This one was taken by it's owner (builder?) on an 1800 mile trip. Pretty cool stuff.

    By the way thanks for a great blog. I'm just up the way in Southern Maine.

    Bill

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  19. ""Here's a link to a great pedal boat designer"

    Wow. Great, that is all I need! "

    Oh boy, are you in trouble.

    http://autocanoe.com/

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  20. Yes, mine is easy to pedal, and seems to cover a lot of distance, with not much work. I pedaled it across the lake and back one time, about 10 miles.

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  21. OMG, those pedal boats are soooo much fun! I almost had the Husband convinced to buy one a couple of years ago. But he hates water. Oh well. Which reminds, I haven't taken my kayaks out all summer!

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  22. We rented a pedal boat in Luxembourg the summer before last and I was completely knackered before we'd crossed the tiny pond. My hat's off to you for soldiering through and seeing a bit of the coast. A fun post!

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  23. You're just a red cap and a speedo away from being part of Team Zissou.

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  24. oh! oh! i used to be on the support team for the Expedition 360 pedal-powered boat tour:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expedition_360

    it was pretty amazing.

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  25. Velouria, I have an off-topic question:

    I just bought a Motobecane Grand Touring mixte (late 70s, I think) and I need to replace the saddle, which is some kind of synthetic padded saddle with a gash in it. (I'm going to tape it with black electrical tape for the time being, sexy, I know.) I was just going through old Bike Forum posts and I found an old thread started by you, wondering whether you should get a Brooks B17 S or Flyer S, and it seems like you settled for the Flyer. I was also looking through your archives a few days ago and saw that you said somewhere that the B67 (I think) was the only Brooks saddle you actually liked, so maybe you didn't even like the Flyer? My Grand Touring has drop handlebars, which I may convert to something else), but I have them fairly high and my seat fairly low and I can use the brake levers on the top of the handlebars, rather than the rams-horn part, so although I am kind of bent-over, I also am kind of upright when I ride. I am not sure whether to get a saddle meant for sitting upright, or a saddle meant for leaning forward, and whether I should get a Brooks or something else. I thought, since you were riding a Motobecane mixte for awhile, that you eventually converted into a more upright bike, and you've gone through this sort of decision-making process, you might be able to shed some light? Thanks!

    (Also, I am new to your blog, new to Bike Forum, new to everything cycling-related on the internet, so if this is not the place for such questions, feel free to strike me with a friendly lightning bolt, etc. I checked your FAQ for guidelines about comments but the only thing you said was don't spam.)

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  26. very cool. there is a pond here where you can rent what looks like a pedal surf board. you stand up like a bike and it is for one person. I REALLY want to try it.

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  27. Thank you for these great pictures! I found some more on this website: http://www.nauticexpo.com/boat-manufacturer/pedal-boat-17097.html

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