Where to buy rowing dory near Boston, MA

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Any suggestions for where, near Boston, MA, to see and test out a open water dory for rowing. This will be my first boat.

Anthony White

-- Anthony White (agw54@bellatlantic.com), March 31, 2000


Dear Anthony,

Messing About in BOATS is full of ads for small boat shops in New England. MAIB's address is 29 Burley St., Wenham, MA 01984-1943, phone 978-774-0906. There's Mystic River Boathouse in Noank, CT and Fernald's in Newbury, MA among others. Are you sure you want a dory?



-- Andre de Bardelaben (middlepath@aol.com), March 31, 2000.

I want a boat that I can row in the ocean, fish in and be able to enjoy for near shore exploration. I assumed a dory would be the best choice.

I have an old Toyota Land Cruiser and I was thinking of trying to cartop the boat, although I am not sure that is going to be feasible.

What might you recommend?


-- (agw54@bellatlantic.net), March 31, 2000.

Dear Anthony,

Some people use the word dory to refer to any rowing craft other than a shell that is suitable for use in open water. Even some manufacturers use the term indiscriminately. When I hear or read the word dory I think of a simple flatbottom craft of angular section or of a related type which is clearly derived from that simple hull form. Dories are appealing because they are quick, easy and cheap to build. They represent good values as long as you don't expect too much from them. Typically they have a quick motion in the roll plane (side to side)which takes some getting used to, but they are good seaboats once understood. A well designed boat of rounder, more sophisticated form will usually be faster, more stable, have greater capacity and be lighter for a given size. It is possible to get a craft that fits all of your requirements; seaworthy, stable and car- toppable, but a dory probably won't be the best choice. My company, along with others, produces a variety of craft that may fit the bill. Many of these companies will have craft available for testing at the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic, CT in June.


Andre de Bardelaben

-- Andre de Bardelaben (middlepath@aol.com), March 31, 2000.


You need to think about what you want to do with the boat and where your going to use it. For example do you want ot go solo or take someone with you? How far off shore do you want to go? How rough do you expect to be on the boat?

Speed is also an important consideration. Dorys tend to be slower than whitehalls and in my opinion speed really matters. Speed doesn't matter because of how fast you go, it matters because of where you can go. If your boat goes comfortabley at 3 knts its going to take you two and a half hours to go 8 miles. If your boat goes 4 knts you do the same trip in under two hours. When you add current into the picture (and in New England you should) it makes even more difference. I keep my boat on a tidal river that has currents up to 3 knts. My boat will go over 5 so I never have a problem getting home. If I had a 3 knt boat I would have to work the tides much more carefully.

Also look at weight, heavy boats are slower and harder to load onto a car but you don't have to be as careful with them. A really light hull (less than 90 lbs for an 18' boat)can be damaged by docks, rocks and beaches where even a midwieght (110-150lb ) hull would be fine.

Just a few things to consider.

Tom Hunter

-- Tom Hunter (zubian@shore.net), April 03, 2000.

Dear Anthony, I also agree that speed is important. I have raced a neighbor in his flat bottom rowboat, and waxed him in my roundy hull. My boat is like a tennis ball with a wineglass stern, very tender but fast. I have rowed it in offshore like conditions (storm winds and waves), and as long as you keep the water out (tarp), your fine. Go for speed and beauty, a boat you will love to admire, and feel good being seen in. I love wood but think it is a hassle to keep up with. Regards

-- David M. Bean (bean2846@aol.com), April 05, 2000.

Anthony, I guess I feel that I need to defend dories. They have the advantage of being cheap to build, seaworthy, and easy to row. I do all the things that you are looking for in my Gloucster Gull. No, they are not speed demons, but they will always get you home. They do have their quirks. They slap in a chop, they need proper ballasting to handle wind, and they can be heavy. If you can get to Cape Cod on a Sunday morning you might have the chance to try out 5 different dories on an outing. Our club members have(in decending order): a 20 Grand Banks, traditionally built, a 20 foot coast guard dory, plywood, a 16 foot Lunenburg dory,traditionally built, a 15.5 Old Wharf Dory, plywood, and my 15.5 Bolger dory, also plywood. They are a great introduction to open water rowing. Check out our web-site at Good luck and ha

-- Adam Pettengill (adampet@gis.net), April 08, 2000.

First, I want to thank all the folks who has answered my question. In addition I listed my e-mail as agw54@bellatlantic.com but that is incorrect. The correct e-mail is agw54@bellatlantic.net.

Right now what seems perfectly clear to me is that I need to get on or near the water with any boat I might have in mind. One clear dividing point is whether I can cartop the boat or whether I will buy a boat that needs to be trailered. What I am looking for is to row and fish near shore on the ocean. Anyway, thanks to all, especially those that have offered places where I can row a boat and or see boats in the water.

Anthony White

-- Anthony White (agw54@bellatlantic.net), April 10, 2000.

Anthony, If you are still looking for a boat, I have a 14' Swampscott Dory built by the Lowell Boat Shop. It is finished bright, rows beautifully and is also a great fishing boat (think history here, Anthony). As an added bounus it can also be rigged for sailing. I could be convinced to part with it to the right person (I just bought a Drascombe Lugger and plan to do more sailing). The only drawback from your point of view is that it is not a car topper. I have been rowing it around Nahant Bay for the last couple of years, in all kinds of weather (including snow storms) and never had any trouble getting home. She is ready for the water and I can put her in this weekend if you would like to try her out.

-- David Brewin (dbrewin@scansoft.com), April 26, 2000.

Hi Anthony Try an Alden Ocean Shell. 40 pounds plus the Oarmaster, which is easily detachable. Arthur Martin, the designer, used to do a lot of Bass fishing in this boat around the Maine Coast when he was in his 70's. I think Bill Graham is still the Alden Dealer in the Boston area -508-356-3623. I row an Alden and love it. Ed Rogers

-- Ed Rogers (paddloar@gis.net), December 09, 2000.

Hello brother and sister Dory enthusiast; I'm also thinking of purchasing this type vessel. For years have been fishing from a 1965 Magic Craft (buit in Texas), for power, a 35 Evenrude. Although a bit strange the boat rows very well, with the oarsman standing up, facing forwards. However, my ten foot oars are completed deteriorated, due to conditions and age. To be affective, the 10ft oar does the job! However for whatever reason, they are imossible to find in my area. Am seriously thinking of a 16 to 18' Dory, with the idea of using complete rowing power, to our favorite fishing grounds, perhaps a two or three mile trip. The hull and transom of my Magic Craft is sound, but again am seriously thinking of a Dory with full rowing capacity, and possible auxillary lateen sail rig, or electric trolling motor. We fish in the N. Florida area, mostly St. Johns River.....any thoughts or comments, about this total boat change, would be appreciated! In regard, John W. Hazouri

-- John W. Hazouri (nataly3336@yahoo.com), August 24, 2003.

Sawyer paddles makes 10ft oars. The shipping won't be cheap but its less than a new boat. http://www.paddlesandoars.com

With a dory you won't need that 35hp motor, the dory hull is a displacement and with the narrow transom can't support the weight of a larger motor. The electric motor will do just fine. You will need a long electrical cable unless you get a wood dory with a motor well. You may also want a long motor handle extension. I got one at a marine supply shop.

I've been rigging my dory up for fishing and with the prime forward motion provided by oars and one of the things I've noticed is that its tricky to put in the rod holders in the right spot. They have to hold the line out of reach of the oar stroke and yet be close to the rower. I went with about 14 inches toward the stern of the oar locks with the rod holder canted one notch (12 degrees) off of perpendicular to the gunnel. The second consideration is that the dory is also for sailing so I didn't want the rod holder sockets in my back when I was sailing.

The key for you is going to be that it takes longer to get to your usual fishing grounds. The top speed of a rowing dory is 4/5 knots vs your 35hp motor boat. On the other hand you might end up fishing the whole way over and find a new spot! And the exercise will do you well.


-- Gary Powell (gwpowell@hotmail.com), August 26, 2003.

I finally put up a website with some photos of my dory rigged for fishing. Click on "more photos" for some closeups of some of the stuff I did for it.


For fishing in Puget Sound its been great. (Puget Sound is somewhat protected waters, but there is a fair amount of commercial traffic, ferries, etc so you need to be able to handle a 3 ft short chop wave from the wake of a freighter. Dories do that nicely. One other thing that needs to be mentioned is that if you are running a downrigger, you are going to want a fairly stable boat so you can lean over the side a bit and clip your line onto the weight line. Also launching, if you launch through the surf you will want a flat bottomed boat. In any case the comment about trying before buying is key to any boat selection. -Gary-

-- Gary Powell (gwpowell@hotmail.com), February 04, 2004.

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