This is a written account of the design, construction, and initial use of a dory for rowing and sailing – that at the same time was recently inspired and long thought about.
Journal Started January 2004
Completed November 2005
This is a written account of the design, construction, and initial use of a dory for rowing and sailing – that at the same time was recently inspired and long thought about. I had thought that this accounting of the design and construction of this boat would start out as rather general, and I had expected that later it would develop into roughly daily entries. As it turns out it did just that, but there were entry lapses as well. So my “catch-up” entries were again rather general to account for those lapses. I wish I had tracked the number of hours it took to design and to build this boat as many people have asked about that. I did not. I will say that while the design and construction of this boat took place over a span of about 18 months (January 2004 to July 2005), the actual time spent working was much less than it may seem. I spent much time in thought, procrastination, and in dealing with my doubts and fears. Also, there were times devoted to other of life’s things.
As I edited this journal, it occurred to me that this project was a lot of work. Dah! Going into a project such as this you think you understand what it will take in terms of time, effort, materials, tools, and commitment, but as I read the pages here it occurs to me that I had only a clue. Would I build this boat again? No, likely not. In part because I’ve been there, done that. In part because there are things I would do differently. Will I build another boat? I don’t know. Certainly, a nice 18- or 20- foot Lowell Skiff (looks like a power dory) would be nice to fish from and to sleep aboard, but I don’t see me doing that kind of project in Boise, Idaho. If I lived on or near to big water perhaps I would build that boat. Maybe in my next time around, when I take up making music and learning to work with my hands much earlier in life – and I don’t stray from big water as I have in this life. I can see building a little car topper dory for myself and giving the solo dory (Six-Hour Canoe) to someone. I can also see building a fleet of small, inexpensive stitch-and-glue dories to give to family for summer fun.
This journal begins before actual work on the boat – even before I had a design in mind.
Thank you, Merine, for being so understanding and supportive during this time! Acknowledgements are included in a section all their own near the end of the journal.
RECYCLED “RBC” – THE FRAME STOCK – Spring 2003
Ray Frechette, a good and long-time friend, called to ask if I would help him with a project. My reward would be half the hardwood we were to remove from a new, flood-damaged home in Boise’s north end. An unusual thing occurred. My mind moved quickly – red oak? I’d rather it is white oak. Why? Why, boat frames of course. White oak is more rot resistant than red oak. But a beggar can’t be a chooser, so I said yes, I’d help. We spent roughly six hours pulling up this beautiful Brazilian Cherry (Hymenaea courbaril – in the family Caesalpiniaceae).
Nope, it wasn’t red oak after all. Locals in Costa Rica call it jotoba, courbaril, or guapinol according to a tropical hardwoods website I found. I call it my recycled BC or RBC. I don’t know anything about its qualities for boat building. I sent an e-mail to Richard Jagles via WoodenBoat, but received no reply. I will use it saturated with and encased/encapsulated in epoxy for the frames and the other deadwood of this boat and perhaps for other boats as well.
Ray and I spent another few hours hauling the RBC to my garage, where I air-stacked it for thorough drying. Months later we spent perhaps another four-to-six hours pulling nails and staples and re-stacking it into two piles – his and mine. My stash of Brazilian Cherry resided in a neat stack under my river dory and trailer since early spring. As to water damage, I could see some cupping and some warping initially, but much of that dissipated in air-stacked storage. For a small investment of time and effort I now had a wind fall – enough material for frames on several boats. Wow!
DESIGNS – Summer and fall 2003
In the summer of 2003 I had decided to build a small wooden boat for rowing and sailing. I started out by completing lines drawings for several very small [7-ft. length overall (LOA)] dories and for some 9-ft. LOA dories. None sat well with me, and by fall I was thinking about an 11-ft LOA dory.
As the holidays approached I decide to let it rest until January 2004.
THE DESIGN – December 2003 through January 2004
When issue number 176 of WoodenBoat came out, my attention went immediately to the article on pages 28-32 about construction of a large (27-ft. LOA), self-righting dory for transoceanic rowing – rowing around the world. Well I don’t see myself doing that, but I do see myself spending chunks of time on inland waters getting exercise and seeing new things in a boat on which I could spend weekends or even a Spartan week at a time. So, I designed a double-chined, 13-plus-ft. LOA (inside), self-righting dory as inspired by the article in WoodenBoat.
In early January I completed drawings of the profile and half-breadths of the hull and cabins on using a scale of 1″ = 1′ (i.e., a 1 : 12 ratio). I made detailed measurements to develop my tables of offsets, and from those measurements I developed the body plan showing views from fore and aft. I went through many sleepless nights thinking about details. I’d get up after several hours of sleep and a few lying awake thinking to sit down with some note paper on which I drew some rough sketches and made notes about scantlings.