History of Dory Boats

By: Mudassir Malik

A dory boat is a boat with a flat bottom, pointed at both the bow (front) and stern (back) so that it can easily ride the waves. American fishermen used dories in the Northeastern in the early 1800s. Eventually, fishermen along the Oregon coast began to use dories, too. Dories have traditionally been powered by fishermen, who rowed the boat with long oars. Large fishing ships used to stack dories several boats high on their decks and when they arrived at a fishing spot, they would send two to four men out in each dory to catch fish.

The Alaska Maritime Refuge's dory was built in about 1968 by Hiram Lowell and Sons, known today as Lowell's Boat Shop Museum, in Amesbury, Massachusetts, as a standard production model Banks dory. It's of a design that has existed unchanged for more than 160 years, developed by Simeon Lowell in the early 1800s from the flat-bottomed, inland waters batteau.

A very simply constructed boat, the dory has a flat bottom with straight flaring sides, a sharp raking bow, and a narrow V-shaped transom. While initially somewhat tender due to the relatively narrow bottom, dories gain stability as they are loaded down and with a moderate load of fish and gear, there is no better sea boat for its size.

Dory Boat Building
The inner bottom planking is 1-inch thick mahogany with outer planking of �-inch white oak. The side planking is �-inch mahogany, with the plank edges beveled and overlapped, then fastened with galvanized square clench nails. The inner frames, gunwales, lower guard rail, and motor transom are made of white oak. The dry weight is about 1000 pounds, length is 16 feet inside and 20 feet overall, with a beam of 6 feet.

Otherwise, you may take 5 planks and glue them together with marine glue to form a firm bottom. Building a dory boat is a skill which requires expertise in cutting wood, sawing, and gluing. Any mistake could be dangerous, and it is wise to take time before rushing into this project.

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David is the owner of Dory Plans - a cool site about Dory Boats

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