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Building the Amesbury Dory-Skiff

An exercise in traditional wooden boat construction.

Tuition: $900

Note: This is a six-day course ending Saturday evening.

Amesbury Dory-Skiff

During the Victorian period, Amesbury skiffs were a common sight at resorts and as tenders for harbor use and clamming. They are a variation of the dory and are built in much the same manner; communally they are called "dory-skiffs."

Founded in 1792 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Lowell's Boat Shop is the birthplace of the American fishing dory. Thousands of dories and skiffs were manufactured at Lowell's throughout the last two centuries. We invite you to join professional boatbuilder Graham McKay in constructing a traditional 14' Amesbury rowing skiff. As lead boatbuilder at Lowell's, Graham has extensive experience and insight into traditional dory and skiff construction methods.

Graham will use John Gardner's The Dory Book as a construction guide through the course. The skiff will be built from traditional methods with the bottom and topsides planked in northern white pine and the frames, stem, and other parts made of white oak. Laps will be secured with copper rivets, and the frames will be joined at the chines with riveted stainless-steel clips.

Using traditional Lowell's building methods, lofting will be minimal, using patterns lofted from plans and planking by eye. The skiff will be built upright so that plank lines can be sighted and the rivets easily reached. By week’s end, the hull should be completely planked and the inwales bent into place and fastened.

Graham will cover building from plans, copper-riveting, caulking, spiling, beveling and lap fitting, steam-bending, and other traditional skills. This will be a fast-moving, exciting class where everyone will be actively involved. And if you're lucky in the class lottery on Saturday, you could be the winner of a beautiful, new rowing skiff. Previous boatbuilding/woodworking experience will be beneficial in this course.

I rate instructors for a living, and I can say that Graham McKay is a truly gifted teacher. He has the perfect blend of knowledge, wit, patience, forgiveness, and humor.”
S.C., Fort Montgomery, New York
I just wanted to tell you and your staff how much I enjoyed my course with Graham McKay. It was the best week of my life, and I learned so much from the course it was unbelievable. WoodenBoat School is one of the coolest places I have even been to!”
A.D., East Haddam, Connecticut