Construction and Design Journal – 14ft Dory for Rowing and Sailing – Part 19

by Roy Heberger - Boise, Idaho - USA

OARS – FALL 2005

I completed a set of oars for the boat in late October.  There were made of ash (shaft and blade) and Brazilian cherry (blade).  The blade is a lamination of the two woods on each side of the central shaft.  The oars are 97-inches overall length.  I cut them that length so they will fit entirely in the cockpit with the blades stored in the forecabin above the forward shelf.  The handles are 5 inches; the square, counterbalanced portion of the shaft is 22 inches; the transition to round is about 1 inch; the round-to-oval, tapered portion is 41 inches; and the blades are 28-inches long and 6-inches wide.

Each blade contains the central shaft of ash, two ash laminations and four RBC laminations.

The round portion of the shaft is rope wrapped for about 14 inches and a leather oar keeper is wrapped about the distal end of the square portion of each oar just above the transition zone.  I like them!


Upon my retirement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service in July of 2000, the good folks there and others contributed to a fund that I was to put toward attending a class at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.  The fund provided about half the tuition for a short course – Constructing the Grand Banks Dory.  I am indebted to Mr. Richard Wilmore, boatbuilder for his instruction and helpful hints in that short course.  I thank all of those who contributed to the fund that helped to send me there and Merine who originally made the suggestion to those looking for a retirement-gift idea.

Merine and I broke several consecutive records for duration of stay on days seven, eight, and again on day nine at a very nice B&B at the top of the hill in Port Townsend.  After Merine left I stayed at the lowly bunk house on the water at the old Port Hadley Campus for several more days to finish up the short course.

I also thank Merine for encouraging me to build this boat.  If I had not taken the short course (her idea) and not had her encouragement and steadfast cooperation to convert our garage to a “boat shop” for about 18 months I don’t think I would have tackled this difficult project.  I am so grateful for her understanding.  Then there were the costs, about which she had no complaint…yet.  Thank you.

I mention here that throughout the text of this journal I have named persons who on occasion gave me physical help, good advice, and/or encouragement.  A few names should be repeated specifically here.

Most are here in Boise.  I again mention Pat Haas and thank him for his frequent visits to the “boat shop,” his thoughts on mast placement, and his encouragement.  Ray Frechette – the original source of the RBC – helped me bend and fasten the oak rub rails to the starboard sheer line and provided constant encouragement and comments, like, “Don’t you think the stem is overbuilt?”  My response is, “Yes, as are the transom, frames and gussets.”  Merine helped me bend the rub rail to the port side.  Thanks!  My old neighbor – Randy Meenach – stopped by, so I recruited him to help me lift the keelson assembly (stem, stem knee, keelson, transom knee, and transom) to the strong back.  Dan Herrig helped me to weigh her (350 pounds naked).  My neighbor Ben Shedd, accompanied by his daughter (Callay), made almost daily trips to the boat shop from across the lawn and driveway to gauge progress and “ooh” and “aah.”

It was a family affair.  Lisa and Merine helped me spring a few batons to obtain fair curves, and the grand children – Taylor, Carter, and Nathan – all took turns at sitting in the boat or hiding in the cabins.

A few persons are scattered elsewhere and offered input in other ways.  Tom Kingston, who I grew up with on the beach at Charlotte, N. Y. is a sailor and had good ideas about centers of force and centers of lateral resistance in the design of sailboats.  He provided some literature and had good ideas about stepping and staying the mast.  Thank you, Tom.

Nancy Knapp is my nautical sister, living “on the wrong side of the river” in Webster N. Y.  She likes boats, but she likes big boats with engines – stinkpots.  Still, she supported me from afar, likely scratching her head from time to time about why I would even begin to take on the project.

Dennis Cowan, who lives south of Port Townsend in Washing State, and Dave Strauss, who lives in Colorado, took the Grand Banks Dory short course with me.  They provided endless understanding and encouragement as I sent them endless e-mail messages and digital pictures through cyberspace.  Thanks guys!

Lastly, my dad was with me the whole time.  Thanx Dad! 


I had saved literally every receipt for construction materials (oak, ash, and marine plywood), new tools (table saw, replacement belt sander, replacement jig saw, new orbital sander, and cordless drill), fastenings (temporary deck screws and permanent brass and stainless steel screws), sand paper (disks and belts), epoxy, fiberglass sheets and tape, and marine paints purchased while I built this boat.  I kept all of those receipts in an envelope I had located on a closet shelf in a spare bedroom.  As I work to complete this journal (today is general Election Day, Tuesday, November 8, 2005), I can not find the envelope.  I spent most of yesterday (it’s still November ’05) looking for it, without any luck in finding it.

So today I located my check-book registers and Visa and Master Card monthly bills for all of 2004 and most of 2005.  I wrote checks (two, totaling $79.65) only for hardwoods acquired at High Desert Hardwoods in Eagle, Idaho.  For all other purchases I used plastic.  I found the record of both checks, and I made an invalid assumption that all plastic purchases made at Home Depot; Lowe’s; and Thriftway Home Center were for the boat.  They were not.  So my estimate is high, likely substantially higher than the actual costs, which I may never be able to accurately determine unless the envelope and receipts are located.  Merine guesses that about 75% is boat related.  The exception is for marine plywood purchased at Crosscut Lumber (marine plywood at $580.40) in Portland, Oregon for which I could be certain from my Visa records.

Therefore, my total costs were less than the $3180 total I came up with having to resort to looking at my credit card records.  Less the known plywood and hardwood purchases that’s $2519.95, and 75% of that is $1889.96.  So, adding the known hardwood lumber costs the revised estimate of the total is $2550.01. That seems more like it.  If I ever find the receipts I will amend this section of the journal.

I also recently purchased a boat trailer in September that I have dedicated to the new boat.  The trailer and tax cost about $927. 


The references cited are:

WoodenBoat. Issue Number 176.  January – February 2004.

Gardner, John and Samuel F. Manning. 1987.  The Dory Book.  Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc. 275 pp.

Rossel, Greg.  1998.  Building Small Boats.  WoodenBoat Books, 278 pp.

Steward, Robert M.  1994.  Boatbuilding Manual.  International Marine, 372 pp.

My Grand Banks Dory Manual (unpublished) from my notes taken during the Building the Grand Banks Dory short course I had taken in August of 2002 at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, Port Townsend, Washington.  Note: without this manual I would have had much more difficulty with the construction of this sailing dory.  I’m very thankful that I took the time to take the notes and to write the manual from them after the short course.

Here is a link to the APPENDICES for this article.

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7 – Part 8 – Part 9 – Part 10

Part 11 – Part 12 – Part 13 – Part 14 – Part 15 – Part 16 – Part 17 – Part 18 – Part 19


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