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Offsite at Chesapeake Light Craft Shop, Annapolis, Maryland

Build Your Own Northeaster Dory

The elegance of a traditional workboat in stitch-and-glue construction.

Tuition: $900 (partner: $450)


  • Rowing version — $2,088
  • Sailing (Sloop) — $3,869
  • Sailing (Lug) — $3,763

A dory is a lot of boat for the money, which explains the enduring popularity of the type over the last 150 years or more. Graceful round-sided lapstrake dories like this 17-footer were once the primary recreational craft on the New England coast. In this six-day course, you’ll assemble a faithful reproduction in just a week, using marine plywood and epoxy. Capacity is three adults, and you can add a sailing rig if you choose. Enjoy fast rowing with one oarsman or two, or add a sliding-seat unit.

This very popular John C. Harris design uses Chesapeake Light Craft’s patented LapStitch™ process, which yields boats of 19th-century appearance but 21st-century weight and durability. Many years after the first CLC LapStitch™ models, the Northeaster Dory enjoys numerous refinements for faster, easier, prettier, and stronger construction Just as in the original dories, we begin with a sturdy flat bottom, erect frames, and then add planks in a single day. A handsome timber rail adds stiffness, and the structure is further reinforced with epoxy and fiberglass. Solid timber seats feature alternating Spanish cedar and cypress strips, which will look great under varnish. All plywood is marine-grade okoume.

Northeaster Dory photo

The impulse for this new design was the desire for a fast but safe and dry rowing craft, for exercise during Maryland winters on the creeks near John’s Kent Island home. Simple and sturdy, the dory can live in or out of the water, ready to go in any condition of wind and wave. Dories are great load-carriers, and the Northeaster Dory is no exception. The maximum payload is 800 lbs.

By the end of this exciting week, hulls will be assembled, ready for sanding and painting at home. If there’s time during the class, those who elect to add the traditional dory sailing rig may get started on that option. Come join John, a leading designer in the wooden boat community, and experience the satisfaction of building your very own beautiful dory.