Swampscott Dory

Once a long time ago I had a series of pages dedicated to the venerable Swampscott dory. I'm going to replicate some of that information. I don't have as much time to dedicate to this task as I used to but I found the page to be fun and so it seems worth it to put it back together again.

A couple of years ago I  bought a 16ft New England Swampscott Dory from Gig Harbor boats and I thought all you other Dory lovers might like to look at some photos. And get some information about setting one up so that you're happy with it.

This dory is a sailing/rowing dory. In this photo on this page, I'm out for a row on Lake Union which is in Seattle.

If you want to contact me, use the email address and remove the text "Remove Spam". This is to help keep web crawling spam generators from picking up the address. Or post a question on the Yahoo Dory Discussion site, I read that fairly regularly.

I really like this dory by the way. Its been great for fishing, sails reasonably well but note like all dories she's tender for those first few degrees of heel. That makes it not a great beginners sail boat. That is if you already know how to sail you'll be fine. If you don't consider a wider more stable boat. It is a beginners/intermediate row boat that behaves wonderfully in the chop and swell of large waves. I haven't been out in it near enough but I'm working on fixing all those things that get in the way of boating. Mainly its just organizing my life so that boating is more of a priority than mowing the lawn on Saturday.

The key thing for enjoying any boat is knowing what it is you want from it. I wanted a boat to fish from, sail with the kids, go out in Puget Sound or Lake Washington or handle the lower rivers for messing around in boats for 1, to 5 people. This boat is really safe in rough water with no more than 4, or 3 people and gear. 5 people is pond safe, no messing around, no standing, kids wear lifejackets, (Everyone should wear them anyways). But hey, I've had 4 in a canoe so we manage it fine.

Other boats I looked at were the
Whitehall Spirit, both the 14 & the 17, the Gig Harbor Whitehall, the Lobster Boat and the Jersey Skiff. I really liked the wood trim on those Whitehalls but then I started thinking about sanding and oiling and storage and realized I might not always have inside storage for my boat. Thus dropping all that wood trim is a benefit, cost and maintence wise. Then I wondered about a smaller boat, but I have a canoe fits that bill. Then what about a larger boat? Well I tried to count the number of days I'd want more people and it is a couple of times a year. Vs the cost of the larger boat and whether I could handle it alone or not. Whether I'd be sailing more, or rowing. Who would actually come out and not just say "Oh I'd love to come!" but if it looks cloudy, or they have chores aren't actually coming. So while I have friends who'd like to come out, they'll just have to come in small groups. And I bet once or twice will be about all they'll want to go. Or they'll get the boat bug and buy their own boat. With the Whitehall Spirit 17, there really isn't any more room for 5. Plus I really like the sea kindly'ness of the dory. With the Lobster boat, it sails better but rows worse. With the Jersey Skiff, it wasn't available when I picked this boat but when I first saw it I was tempted to trade up. Now without already owning a dory it would be a hard decision as the Jersey Skiff being wider, and a foot longer would hold 5 easily. But the skiff isn't a river boat at all, too deep draught. It's also it looks just a bit big for me to row alone, although I could sail it easily by myself. I also looked at river dories, and maybe making a kit boat, (here.) Wooden river boats look pretty, but I've got a lot of local lakes and while a river boat is better in a river, they are terrible out on a lake or out in the sound.  The high freeboard allows them to be blown all over the place. On the other hand the greater draft of a New England Dory means I'm going to have to stay at the lower reaches of the rivers least I run up on too many rocks. They say a drift boat needs only the morning dew to float on! Maybe some time I'll make a river dory and then have two boats...

What I came up with was this boat. It is been the right size for just me and its most of what I wanted.. Fits inside the garage, no large annual morage bills. It sails with 2 nicely, 3 are ok. Rows with up to 4. Although fishing on the Puget Sound is really 3 due to gear issues. What I really want is a summer camp and a heap of boats that someone else maintains and I get to use whenever I want. That's not a happening thing in my life, when I make my fortune remind me to buy a kids camp and run it as place for city kids to come camp and I get to borrow the boats between sessions. Anway this boat is doing great.

One addition I made early on was to build a steering board for the rudder. That way with 2 or more people, one can sit in the way back and steer without having a tiller in their back. Look at any good sailing canoe rig and you'll see what I mean. There is also a closeup photo in the photos section. So if they don't feel like rowing there is still something to occupy them. With the kick up rudder you can pull up the part in the water, and lash the tiller in place and ignore it too. So lots of options.

There are some links to those other boats on the
boat builder's page but its not a comprehensive list, just what I've been able to find. People have been making boats since man discovered tools so there are a great variety, there's at least one for each region and purpose. This whole web site is under construction so check back and I'll probably have added some more photos and hints. Also I'd be glad to hear from you and any links you think should be here or removed or whatever.

I can say this, Dave and Falk at Gig Harbor boats have been great to deal with. They are a good boat shop and have been very helpful to me. I'm so vain, but I keep getting more photos, so I've been adding them to the web site. If I've stolen some of yours, and you'd like credit, send me an email and I'll pull the photo or just link to it.

BTW, this is a non commerical website. I get no compensation from anyone listed on this site, other than "Great Site" emails.

gwpowell Remove Spam at hotmail dot com

Yahoo group: Dory Boat
Gig Harbor Boats