I read in another thread about being able to move seats to balance your boat. I understand balancing side to side, but do you also balance front to rear? If so how do you know when your boat is balanced? Thanks for the information.
Yes...this is an important feature for me. The front seat moves about a foot. It's not rocket science, but if I have two people in the front seat I generally move it all the way back. If I have one person in the front...all the way forward. It maneuvers and holds better if the load is more centrally balanced and not heavy front or rear
I used to fight the side to side balance until I put a stick on R.V. level between the knee braces up front. When we put in I mention to keep the bubble in the middle and it's good the rest of the day.
I'm a novice at the wisened ways of the experienced oarsman so take this with a grain of salt. However, I'm pretty good with physics and fluid dynamics so I'm not just shooting my mouth off either.
Just a guess but the center of mass should be somewhere near the centerline of the oar locks. The closer to that ideal that you can achieve, the better the boat will turn just because of the basic physics of a rotating object and the object's distribution of mass. However, there's a sweet spot to the balance of the boat as it relates to the fluid dynamics of the boat vs. the water. I'm sure someone could come up with a computer model that would detail the exact sweet spot for getting your drifter properly balanced. Really it comes down to feel.
Do you really need to balance your boat? A really poorly balanced boat will make the job of the oarsman especially hard. GP's advice of moving the seat according to the number of passengers is good advice. If you distribute your gear around the boat in a reasonable fashion, you're probably ok for your average day trip. If you're guiding day in and day out, then balance can make each day a little easier, making for less fatigue and more focus. If you're running four days down the big D with a full load of gear, then balancing the boat can mean the difference between making it and not making it.
Adjustable front seats are pretty common these days. Does anyone use an adjustable rower's seat with adjustable oarlocks? I'd be interested in hearing how adjusting the rower's position works to fine tune the balance of the boat.
The seats moving helps some. Unless the oarsman lets someone else row, his/her seat stays glued. The front seat can move some. The rest is done with what you put where.
My Willie actually rowed as well or better with 2 front seaters instead of one( pulling plugs here).
More weight in a boat will always make it respond slower to the oarsman's input, because the increased load requires more energy from the oars to begin moving it. This is why Whitehorse on the D spooks me- the boat is always overloaded when I do it. It would be a fairly easy feat with no gear slowing things down.
A level works pretty well, but when the boat is riding a seam, it does not necessarily mean you want it level. You want it tracking straight. This is done by feel, not with a level( but a level will usually be fairly close). But on the flat runs, they work great.
I thought about putting one of the RV levels on the front fly deck. Put a smily face in the middle and angry faces at each end and tell your passengers it's the Oarsman Happiness Gauge. It's especially bad in my boat because I don't have the sliding buckets up front. The front seat is rope with ridges to support it in the middle. About 2/3's through a trip, fatigue sets in for the front seaters and before long they're leaning to one side or the other.
As for front to back balance, as long as you keep the gear distributed around reasonably, I think you'll be fine.
The side to side balance is fairly easy to get correct. The oarsman knows when an unbalanced situation has occured. Ampersat you are correct about there being a sweet spot for pivoting the boat. The wieght should be between the front seat and the rowing seat. If you look at a cross section view of a drift boat it loos like a banana,you want the load as close to the low part of the banana. And when going on those expeditions with food,drink and camping gear for 5 days,make sure the bow and stern are out of the water an equal amount
There has been lots of good advice as to how to balance the boat side to side.
Heres an easy way to balance it front to back:
Pour about a gallon of water inside the boat. The water should sit between your knees and the foot brace when sitting in the rowing seat. This might vary a little depending on the brand of boat, but for most, this is where the sweet spot is.
If the water ends up under the fishbox or worse, you are running too "stern low", if the water slides up toward the front seaters, you're too bow low.
If you're stern low, you'll have a heck of a time slowing the boat down, and it won't want to slide across stream real well.
If you're bow low, the boat will want to spin on you, rather than track straight.
Hope this trick helps you as much as it helped me.