(Web site, first installment, second installment)

It took me a long time to figure out how to engineer my boat so that the rowers would all move together. At first, I wanted them to all be able to actually row together, in the sense that they would move their seats back and forth and move their arms back and forth with the oars, and it would be simultaneous. But this problem was too hard, so like all good mathematicians, I decided to work on a simpler problem instead.

In a real crew boat, there is a “foot board” that is attached to the boat, with shoes glued to it; the rower puts her feet into these shoes and “ties in.” The seat is on rollers which roll along a metal “slide,” with the slide attached to the boat and the seat merely rolling along it.

In my model boat, there are roughly wedge-shaped footboards attached to the boat, with a hole drilled in each parallel to the long direction of the boat. A long dowel passes through all of these holes. Seats are glued to this dowel. The rowers are wired to the seats. Thus, the seats are all attached together, and can move rigidly but freely back and forth through the holes in the footboards, and the rowers move with them.1 See picture above, and more information about that.

Actually attaching everything together in this manner was nontrivial; I explain this in detail on the web site. In the end, the rowers don’t slide smoothly as I hoped they would, because the holes in the footboards don’t line up quite right. But nobody really cares about this except me, so it’s okay.

1Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture with the rowers all the way forward and then all the way back, so that you can see that they all move together. This is because I finished my project at about 5:00 PM the day before I was leaving for college before sunrise, so I only had about half an hour before sunset to take pictures (because I detest flash and other artificial lights) and so I didn’t have time to think about good pictures to take.