Originally Posted by SimpleMan
They look cool in the "armrest position" but as an inexperienced rower I wonder if (even though they don't impede the oars) if there is a good reason not to mount 'em here.
There are some good reasons not to mount boxes up high next to your seat if you're going to be getting into Class III or more difficult water.
Regarding impedence of the oars: from the photos, Kazak's overall setup looks really sweet but he appears to have his ammo boxes in a place that looks like they could interfere with the oarstroke (in the lower photo, the black bag will also interfere with the oarstroke if its there when rowing). This may not be an issue on flatwater or Class II rapids but as you get into bigger water, you'll want to be able to get the oar free and clear of the water and then some due to the fact that you could be getting rocked side-to-side or have big waves to the side that catch the oar on the return stroke. Also, in technical water on low-volume rivers (like the Arkansas) I often find myself raising my oar above rocks I'm passing by as an alternative to shipping the oar.
Regarding an armrest, I can't imagine ever needing one and especially don't have any use for an armrest if it impedes my ability to get the oars out of the water and back on the return stroke. If you ever really need an armrest you'll have the oars to rest your arms on, even with a counterbalance setup.
As for captian's dryboxes, I prefer to keep a small, clear personal drybag in the cockpit that's big enough to stuff a fleece and/or splash top, hat, gloves, etc. into along with other things I keep things I want handy (camera, binocs, snacks, etc.). My setup has a large drybox in front of me that can be accessed relatively easily and a zippered drop-bag that gives easy access to stash anything that's OK to get wet as I'm coming up on rapids (water bottle, ball cap, thermos, sunscreen etc.). I don't want any more hard things with corners close to me that I can bump into in rough water - the idea of closing in the cockpit or having hard things near my elbows isn't very appealing. With Kazak's setup, there's also the possiblity of getting a nasty gash on your calf or shin from the latches on the captian's boxes if you're getting tossed around. Not an issue in mellow water but could be a problem in bigger rapids. If I need to carry more things next to me, I could just have a soft drybag lashed down low in the cockpit.
To help with the comparison, I row a 14' Vanguard with a DRE 4-bay frame, & have a DRE seat mounted over the rear bay (see photo to left), with cooler and drybox in the front two bays, oar towers are just to the rear of center.