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Why You Should Build a Dory
Dories are one of only a few hundred boats that have survived into the 21st century, and for good reason. Their sea-keeping ability, sleek appearance, great versatility, and easy construction make them one of the best choices for beginners or seasoned boat builders looking for a great boat that can be built on a budget.
Dories first appeared more than 200 years ago as small, light, portable fishing boats. They were easy to build, easy to set up from the sea, easy to row or sail, and could haul lots of gear and fish. No one knows where the design came from but many builders began building these boats on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, dories were popular in Portugal, and in the US, Nova Scotia was the center of construction. Dories were mainly used to fish the Grand Banks, one of the most important areas in the world at the time.
Many people think that bottom boats, like most dories, are a little lower on the sea than bottom boats. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you raise the port, with its flared sides, the boat is more stable. For example, in 1876 a man named Alfred Johnson tried to cross the Atlantic Ocean at the bar of Gloucester, Massachusetts. He chose the 20th dory he named the Centennial to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States that year. They made sails and a half-mast, and on the 15th of June they set sail from Gloucester for England. They arrived in Liverpool on August 21, 1876 after crossing one of the most treacherous waters in the world, the North Atlantic. They survived a huge storm and rough seas in a flat, open boat with no flotation devices or life preservers!
Today dories come in a variety of styles. There are things that are perfect for paddling, sailing, power, high energy, wild white water, and more. Almost any possible boating experience or hobby can be built into some type of dory. Dories are used for surf launching, open ocean fishing, whitewater river rafting, ocean surfing, as heavy fishing or diving boats, sailing in light winds, just about any task imaginable. . They also handle much less power than most other boats. Imagine going 25 mph using only 25 horsepower in a 20 foot boat – a dory can do it. Imagine a 20 foot rowing boat that one person can row up to 6 knots comfortably over long distances – a dory can do it. Imagine loading 8 tons of cargo into a 27 foot boat and sailing it on the open sea – a dory can do that.
Modern dories are surprisingly easy to build. All of the frame is straight. You can go to any lumberyard, buy some pre-built lumber, sand it and glue it together, cover it with plywood, and viola – you have a dory. No external equipment, no special tools, no special techniques are required. If you can build a sawhorse, you can build a dory. Many smaller dories can be built in a few hours for a few hundred dollars. All you need to do is make sure that the dory builder you choose has designed their boat to be made from sustainable timber. Some of the old designs require such an unusual size that you have to spend hours preparing the wood before you start building.
With modern epoxy, and polyurethane glue “Gorilla Glue”, you can make strong, safe dories, even if you are not a woodworker. These adhesives fill gaps well, so there is no need to carefully fit and carefully tie each knot in the design. With fiberglass and epoxy, you can also use non-waterproof plywood. A flexible and strong special coating of epoxy and fiberglass on the outside seals the leather and adds strength and abrasion resistance. Unlike the old polyester fiber glass, with epoxy, there are no special techniques for making boats. You simply lay the fabric on the plywood and wet it with resin that is applied with a brush or roller. It’s simple.
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