Custom Search
   boat plans
   gift certificates
Join Duckworks
Get free newsletter
on this site
by Paul G. Schreiber - Cornville, Arizona - USA

A Butler Design


So you read Duckworks magazine. [Please see Norwegian Gunning Dory 'Bodil II' post in March Splash.] Obviously, you not only like wooden boats, you love them as I do. You also know then that all boats are female. According to my family's tradition, the boats of my boyhood carried my mother's name Olga, followed by a II. So naturally, I named this slender Dory after my equally slender wife of 53 years, exactly as all seven salt and fresh water boats we joyously owned together over those years.

Even though warmth returns to central Arizona quickly every year, this time it seemed to hang back forever while a young sporty lady was cooling her shapely lines in my boat shed/shop. The pair of launching wheels at her waist raised her ardent bow like a runner's face at the starting line, but only I knew that, as for the time being she was shrouded in a shapeless cover. At least twice a day I would roll it up, we would look at the cold sun together, and wait. She would have gone, but this old lover of hers now avoids the combination of cold and water. Boating trips to any one of our beautiful lakes are camping trips, nearly so by necessity, more so by my choice, and involve several days. Therefore, we pretended circumspection and waited.

Come spring in the dessert, the sun soon pretends it is summer, which means shirt during the day, down cover at night. So it happened this year, and up on the truck went the camper, food into the fridge, and a little brandy for cold evenings rounded out the stores. One hand was all it took to roll Bodil II up on the utility trailer. Firewood, miscellaneous camping gear and this I have not mentioned in my first story segment a 1965 restored, 3 hp Johnson outboard clamped to a rack I built years ago for trailer boats, after "we swallowed the anchor" to retire in Arizona. Nearly everything went according to plan and planning. The photos are indeed representative of that. Then how was performance of Boat, Transport, and Skipper?

Boat: I probably looked at every possible Dory design, but kept coming back to Butler's Norwegian Gun Dory as the most elegant. Like many a highly bred female, she promised to be tender, and that surely proved out. The primary objective with this, my last boat, was to reduce weight and effort in beach launching, now my preferred modus operandi. Next, was to eliminate the boat trailer, which requires "breaking camp" for each launch or retrieve. Our fickle dessert weather calls for such prudence. Four-wheel drive can help, even though it will not always save you from being mired in the muck between beach and water, usually just at dark. I now find two-wheel drive much lighter to handle on long stretches, so no more 4-wheel drive.

Though I still enjoy rowing as much as I did as a boy, age suggests use of an outboard, which had always been part of the plan irrespective of final boat choice. That restricted design options considerably. A Dory she had to be. I love them. Dories, large enough to accommodate an engine well, negated my primary objectives of lightness and launching ease. That meant side-mount, which meant trim problems for sure. The old practice of backpacking a small engine to the canoe hidden in the boonies, showed the way. Most likely ballast would be necessary. Camping gear equals ballast, but there would be no such. Light fishing rods and a tackle bag do not qualify. The alternative of an electric motor eliminated itself due to battery weight, limited range, and the lengthy process of solar charging with weighty panels. The Johnson weighs thirty pounds. Following Chuck Leinweber's and Bill Butler's suggestions, I bagged 30 lbs of "play sand" ($4, 45 per 50 lb sack from Home Depot), divided between ten taped Ziploc bags, and then secured in small sacks sewn from an old bed sheet. Stowed in the starboard chamber, they did the job admirably.

Forward and aft trim, however, proved unsatisfactory. To reach the outboard, I had to scoot back against the stern bulkhead. My 175 lbs plus engine depressed the stern and raised the bow some. The gearbox angle of attack, designed to raise a heavily laden canoe bow, exacerbated the condition.

Though she moved along briskly, the propeller's running depth proved inefficient.

Solution: Half of the ballast will go into the bow compartment. That should also eliminate the slight list she shows at anchor under the current load plan. Secondly, 9" teak will replace the 3" blocks now supporting the outrigger bar. That will bring the propeller up to design depth and performance close to planing? Thirdly, there will be a curved backrest.

Finally, the oarlocks sit too low on the gunwales. Only a perfect, wave unimpeded backstroke, avoids knee contact.

Solution: Traditional oarlocks and bases.

Transport: The use of the utility trailer worked exactly as hoped. Transporting the boat atop her launching wheels, however, did not. Tires oscillated with trailer motion, and caused all tie-downs to loosen.

Solution: Bow and stern cradles with their own tie-down points will slightly suspend the wheels while firmly securing the boat.

The Skipper: No matter what, this girl will be tender. However, only after a short time on the water, the body began to react instinctively to her movements, very similarly to dealing with kayak motion or, for that matter, the motions of a fine woman.

If the editor agrees, a report with photos on Bodil II performance after the described changes will follow. [editor agrees :-)]

I welcome any questions except, for obvious reasons, those concerning design.


I happily recommend:

Edensaw Woods and Sam Raymor. First class service, product, and shipping.

Chuck Leinwebers Duckworks Boat Building Supply and the crew that makes the place hum professionally, efficiently, and friendly.

Last, but certainly not least, Paul Butler and his designs. Not only are they elegant, they are sea kindly. Wherever you show up with one of his boats, you will attract as much attention as a beautiful woman with a beautiful dog will, sitting in front of a Wal-Mart.

If you want to know a little more about this writer, you can find my published book 'American By Choice - from WWII Ashes to Celebration of Principle' under "memoirs WWII" on Amazon.

To comment on Duckworks articles, please visit one of the following:

our Yahoo forum our Facebook page