Building a Dory
Traditional workboat construction with a master shipwright.
- WALT ANSEL —September 8–14
Note: This is a six-day course ending on Saturday afternoon.
Mystic Seaport’s bodacious Eastern-rig dragger ROANN (see WoodenBoat No. 204) needs a new dory to grace the top of her wheelhouse. Dragger dories, despite being lifeboats, had relatively short lives. They dried out, became catchalls for spare rope and fenders, and happily rotted away up in the wind and rain. Those draggers that sword-fished during the late summer and early fall did exercise their dories retrieving swordfish, but short of calamity, this was about the only use they got. ROANN’s dory is beyond recovery, and Mystic Seaport needs a replacement.
Following our successful halibut dory classes in 2011 and ’12, WoodenBoat School students will be building this 15′6″ dragger dory with the same techniques. Over the first several days of class, we’ll build various parts. We’ll use wide pine boards, white oak frames, and plenty of copper clench nails. The bottom will be built up to profile and battened together with oak 1 x 2s. Five frame pairs will be built and screwed to the bottom along with the stem and transom. This assembly will be sprung down onto a strongback on the floor to establish the proper dory bottom rocker. We’ll then start planking with the garboards first and work our way to the sheer using three to four planks per side, depending on available stock.
The emphasis will be on traditional boatbuilding skills all week. Students will be busy with millwork and hand tool shaping, making traditional caulking seams and caulking them, riveting with copper nails, and fastening dory lap planks with clench nails. Much of the building information will come from a scale half model, an ancient method that boatbuilders used in place of lofting. It’s remarkable that such a functional craft can have so much grace and beauty and yet be created from large straight boards, a few measurements, simple curves, and certain bevels. Come join Walt for an amazing, very satisfying, and productive week. You’ll learn more than you ever could have imagined!
This dory will be built without any plans or lofting. We will replicate an existing boat or work from patterns or notes to build the needed parts. The upright assembly will be by rule of thumb and eye, with emphasis on the use of battens for establishing shapes and fairing. John Gardner’s The Dory Book will be our companion and reference; students taking the course would be advised to acquire a copy.
The completed halibut dory built in this course will find a home on Mystic Seaport’s beautiful Gloucester fishing schooner L.A. DUNTON where demonstration interpreters will use it to set and haul fishing gear. The trawl lines, handlines, and seines set in the Mystic River for the visitors will probably never catch a huge thumping halibut, but you never know…