Doris the Dory


Doris the Dory

I'm experiencing a rosy, weary glow after spending much of the past two days sailing my dory. The boat aside, I have to say that sailing again in glorious weather has been great after my long layoff after breaking my collar bone last summer, and the winter that followed.

Now for the boat. It has been an intense couple of days, and I've learned some important facts:

- In F5 winds, you need strong rudder fittings even with a light-weight 16ft boat, and if using a stick to control a rudder via a yoke, that yoke needs to be quite a lot wider than the stern of a typical dory - otherwise the force on the linkage will be surprisingly powerful and can smash whatever fittings you may be using. Frankly, I think such a yoke needs to be sufficiently wide to extend significantly beyond the stern, and in fact beyond scope of any horse used on the mainsheet. I may decide to go with a more conventional tiller and extension stick arrangement, not least because that would be more acceptable to other people who might sail the boat.

- Again in F5 the boat is snug and secure with 50lbs of gravel ballast and a 35sqft sail, but very much underpowered in an F2 - although I found getting reasonable performance less of a problem when sailing without the ballast.

- Having tried a large-ish shallow rudder, I will be reluctant to do so again. It may be that Bolger's inverted-T is effective, but nothing beats a rudder that goes down a foot or two so below the boat. JIm and I suspect that a shallow rudder is hampered by the fact that it is working in
turbulent water.

- Anyone who tells you that no small Banks-style dory can be successfully made to sail is overstating their case. Although I doubt this boat will ever frighten the owner of a racing dinghy, I'm pretty sure it will work well once the problems I have been having with the rudder have been solved and I have made a larger sail.

- I have conducted a few tests with the boat filled with water, and I think that it should be possible to re-enter and bail the boat, at least with the gravel ballast I've been using under the thwart - with the large bouyancy tanks built into each end, the boat wants to pop back up having shed much of the water inside.

I think that about concludes my experiments with this boat, as far as using it as a rowing craft are concerned. The rig isn't right yet, but I'm now sure this is a good looking, safe and useful rowing dory. For those who haven't followed my progress, it comes out of 3.5 sheets of 1/4in ply, and is just under 15ft 4in long, 4ft in beam and about 2ft 8in on the waterline at 300lbs displacement. It carries bigger loads pretty well - I've had it with up to 500lbs of people on board.

At these dimensions it seems to row pretty well, but is more burdensome and less tippy than some existing dory designs, and I think it's a pretty good compromise. If anyone fancies building it for rowing and wants some drawings, stay tuned. Duckworks will soon publish them as free plans for subscribers.

Gavin Atkin