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History / Boats

The Boats

The Features of the Alden
Marjorie Martin - 1981


Martin Marine Product Line


The Alden Single

Ideal for the recreational rower and racer

Hull Length: 16'
Waterline Beam: 24"
Overall Beam: 25"
Hull Weight: approx. 40#
Features: Fiberglass hull and deck with coaming, bow line, sealed flotation, flat bottom, low seating position, drainage plugs, ample storage and access port.
Benefits: Designed for optimum combination of satisfying speed and assuring stability, with extra space for storing gear and a personal flotation device.


The Alden Double

Ideal for tandem rowing, versatile enough for one.

Hull Length: 18'
Waterline Beam: 29"
Overall Beam: 30"
Hull Weight: approx. 68#
Features: Same as the Alden Single, but offers three locations for the Oarmaster.
Benefits: Converts easily for tandem or single rowing - with or without a passenger.


The Martin

The original high performance single.

Hull Length: 20'6"
Waterline Beam: 19"
Overall Beam: 22"
Hull Weight: approx. 50#
Features: Similar hull to the Alden, but longer and narrower with high coaming.
Benefits: Offers a higher hull speed with more glide. The Martin's performance has been proven time and again in racing events from Maine to California. Ideal for competitive training in less than perfect conditions.


The Appledore Pod

Ideal for rough water or camping trips.

Hull Length: 16'
Waterline Beam: 33.5"
Overall Beam: 35.5"
Hull Weight: approx. 97 lbs. (Fiberglass)
approx. 70 lbs. (Cedar)
Features: Offers three locations for the Oarmaster, higher freeboard, a wider beam and optional sailing rig. The Appledore comes in elegant Western Red Cedar using the WEST System, or fiberglass with teak trim.
Benefits: This boat offers the unbeatable combination of seaworthiness, stability, and the full body power of sliding seat rowing. The Appledore may be rowed by one or two, with plenty of extra room for passengers or gear. Plus, the optional sailing rig shifts muscle power to wind power for exceptional speed and grace.


The Kittery Skiff Kit

Enjoy building and rowing this traditional craft.

The Kittery Skiff Kit includes all pre-cut wood parts ready to stitch-and-glue in place, epoxy resin and hardener with precise metering pumps, all fasteners and even a pair of rubber gloves. This kit is simple enough for a first time boat builder to assemble.

Hull Length: 15'8"
Waterline Beam: 24"
Overall Beam: 28 1/2"
Hull Weight: approx. 40 lbs.
Features: Classic double-ender design using the Oarmaster.
Benefits: Inexpensive, easy to build, carries a passenger and fun to row.


Design was a constant at Martin Marine Company. As experience and wisdom grew, the science behind the sport began to emerge. Douglas Martin, Arthur's oldest son, a self confessed "wing nut",  designed an oar based on the fabulous connection between aero and fluid dynamics.

The Oarmaster

When Arthur began designing the Alden Double he made it a requirement that the boat be usable as both a double or a single. This required a new way of thinking about the rowing works. With help from a vendor in Braintree, MA, Arthur invented The Oarmaster, a self-contained rowing works which could be removed from the boat and used as an exercise machine when not in actual use on the water.

Douglas Oarlocks

Because the Alden oars have a square shaft, rounded bottom oarlocks wouldn't work. Traditional sculling oars are square but they used a lightweight gated oarlock which Arthur didn't like because it was too complex and not hardy enough for the Aldens. He wanted an oarlock design that was simple to use but very dependable in managing the long stroke of the 9'-9" oars.

Douglas Martin quickly went to work on this problem and carved a wooden prototype the very same day.

Known as the Douglas Oarlock, this simple yet elegant solution continues to be sought after decades later.



While Arthur worked at the John Alden Company in Boston, the company's owner, Mr. Neil Tillotson, helped launch the Alden Ocean Shell by being the first manufacturer at the Tillotson Pearson Comany in Rhode Island. Eventually Arthur's son-in-law, Ted Perry became the exclusive builder of the entire Martin Marine Company line of boats.



The early years of Martin Marine were characterized by individual sales by both Marge and Arthur. When Cliff Hurst joined Arthur as a salesman in 1983, Arthur and Cliff began to expand the dealer network throughout the United States. In 1993 there were 45 active dealers in the US. Not one dealer represents more than 25% of sales. The leading dealer in the US was located in Toledo Ohio. Below is a shortlist of some of the best dealers of the Aldens.

Cap Shafer - Easton, MD
Ed Rogers - Norwalk, CT
George Leboutillier - Toledo, OH
Gordon Nash - CA
Dana Avery - Stoningham, CT
Bill Graham - Ipswich, MA
Adorondike Boats - NY
Pat Soptic 




Teaching was a huge part of the Martin Marine culture. When people were properly trained in the use of the Aldens as well as proper rowing techniques they were more apt to buy a boat. Arthur and Marjorie Martin and Debbie Arenberg taught these essential principles hundreds of times to hundreds of people and continue to do so.

Adapting to rough seas is largely a matter of attunement and sensitivity that can require as much time and cultivation as learning to scull in the first place. Often those who have developed a rigid sculling stroke on smooth water tend to ship excessive water and experience unnecessary difficulty clearing their blades when rowing in even moderate seas. Therefore, they may not realize the extraordinary sea-keeping ability inherent in a well-designed and properly adjusted shell.

A flexible stroke is the key to speed and grace in rough water. Let the sculls follow the contour of the waves during both the drive and recovery. Let the waves determine which hand will cross over. As often as not, a left-over-right drive, for example, will be followed by a right-over-left recovery. To allow greater vertical motion of the blades and to facilitate variable crossing of the handles, the riggers should be set high and to an equal height. The catch and the release should occur in a nearly level spot, not when ones scull is stuck in a wave. Therefore, let the stroke vary in length and timing as you slide for the catch, be anticipating the next level spot, even if it means a shortened stroke in one instance, and in a long slow recovery in the next. Likewise, as you pull toward the finish, release whenever the sculls become level. Be at one with the waves, and they will not turn their full force against you.


A shell under positive control can withstand substantial breaking whitecaps from any direction without capsizing, even if the crest should dump into the cockpit. a suction bailer mounted within easy reach is highly recommended for rowing on unprotected waters and is manditory for winning ocean races.


If a long downwind leg in heavy seas is anticipated, the boat will surf under better control if the stretcher is moved back a notch and a shorter stroke with an incomplete leg drive is used to keep weight aft.


Adaptive Rowing

The Alden Ocean Shell opened up a new world for physically challenged people. The combination of stability and fine lines gave everyone the ability to perform. Applying a bit of the abundant Martin ingenuity, modifications were made to make the Alden Ocean Shell even more of an option for physically challenged people, thus helping create many programs like "Freedom on the River" and "Rowing in the Mainstream".

Adaptive Rowing
The Energy 48

Isles of Shoals Race


For me, the Isles of Shoals Race is the heart of Alden Racing. Arthur Martin started it as a celebration for all Alden racers. He wished to share not only the tradition of open water rowing, but also, his beloved Isles of Soals where he used to summer with his family.

2002 is the 30th consecutive Isles of Shoals Race. This commemorative booklet honors Arthur and the wonderful rowers past, present and future who have and will participate each year in this challenging and inspirational event.

Marj Martin Burgard

Isles of Shoals Race



As the sport of recreational rowing began to grow, so did media attention to Martin Marine and the Martins in Kittery Point. The Alden shell put Arthur and Marjorie on the map of interesting people;  there were hundreds of articles written about them, their life in Maine, their boats and their attitude about fitness and life in general. Below is a sample of some of them.I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Alden Ocean Shell Association

By then we knew the Bayer family,  since they had moved to Kittery, Maine.   Ernestine (Ernie) Bayer and her daughter, Tina, were enjoying rowing an Alden double in saltwater,  a new experience for them both. No one had more enthusiasm for all kinds of rowing than Ernie.


Ernest Bayer,  better known as "Papa bear",  won a silver medal in the 1928 Olympics. His wife Ernestine was called "Mama bear" and their daughter, Tina,  became known as "Baby bear".  They were and still are legends in all the rowing circles. Ernie, with the full support of her husband, started women's rowing in this country. She formed the Philadelphia Girls' Rowing Club in 1938 and continued to work tirelessly, never taking no for an answer, taking our American women to their first Olympics in 1976. She was behind title IX battle and finally,  her American women won the "Gold" in the 1984 Olympics.

Ernie, with her total rowing knowledge, her connections within the racing circles,  plus her amazing enthusiasm and unbounded energy just leaped in with both feet to help form the budding new Alden Ocean Shell Association. No one but Ernie could have put so much into that organization. She wrote personal letters to every inquiry, encouraged the first-time rowers, sent brochures to help in sales. She saw to it that the Aldens could register up to 80 boats and participate in the Head of the Charles regatta. There was no stopping her, she took the ball and ran with it.

After the 2nd Isles of Shoals race in 1974 some of us gathered for dinner,  sharing thoughts about the race. Most of the thinking was "What fun that was! and yes, I never rowed that far before, but can't wait until next year!"

One of the sailors in the group suggested we should form an association for Alden rowers. Arthur picked up on that idea knowing one design racing should be mandatory. He had thoughts of designing more Martin Marine shells and believed no race would be fair if a longer and narrower boat could race against the shorter or slower ones. The association would also discourage membership to different manufacturers who designed boats that were faster than the Alden.

Marjorie Martin Burgard

Alden Ocean Shell Association
Martin Marine Company
Arthur's Legacy

Arthur's Legacy


Arthur E. Martin
The Father of Recreational Rowing
1917 - 1990

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