Northeaster Dory by Chesapeake Light Craft

Light-weight Rowing and Sailing Dory That You Can Build

Length overall17'5.18 m
Beam4' 8"1.42 m
Draft2'0.61 m
Draft (cb up)5"0.13 m
Weight100 lbs45 kg
Capacity800 lbs363 kg
Sail area68 sq. ft.6.32 m2
Hull construction Stich-n-glue



A dory is a lot of boat for the money, which explains the enduring popularity of the type going back 150 years or more. Relatively few planks means less construction work. The narrow waterline results in a fast hull under sail or oars, but the flared topsides provide ample reserve stability. Dories are great load-carriers, and the Northeaster Dory is no exception. 800 pounds is the max payload.

The history of the dory is somewhat obscure but the most famous are the Banks dories, used for longline cod-fishing on the Grand Banks. The Banks dories are justifiably famous (they played a starring role in "Captains Courageous") but never worked well for pleasure boaters: they were too heavy, and required a thousand pounds of cod in them to have much stability.

Pleasure-boaters adopted the general type, however, and refinements include the Swampscott Dory and Nahant Dory. Graceful round-sided lapstrake dories like this 17-footer were once the primary recreational craft on the New England coast. They were the Boston Whalers of the early 20th century.

"When I think of a build-it-yourself dory," says designer John C. Harris, "I think of Phil Bolger's iconic Gloucester Light Dory design. There wasn't much point in doing a new dory design unless we offered something fresh and different. I wanted a dory that was easier to build, doesn't need a ladder-frame mold during construction, and that can carry more than one or two adults."

The Northeaster uses Chesapeake Light Craft's patented LapStitch process, in which pre-cut planking is assembled quickly with wire "stitches" and nothing more than a pair of ordinary sawhorses. Hull planking is 6mm okoume; the bottom is 9mm, fiberglassed on both sides and up onto the side planking. Bulkheads are laminated together from layers of 9mm plywood. Epoxied together, the hull is light - only about 100 pounds - and very strong. And with 800 pounds of displacement, this dory offers real versatility. It's small enough to be rowed by one person, but big enough for tandem rowing with two adults. Like all dories, the Northeaster tracks well, has a long glide, and stays dry in waves. Even four adults have comfortable seating.

Rowers looking for a high-performance dimension may add a sliding seat without modifying the interior. In the stock rowing version, a drop-in sliding seat unit requires minutes to install so you can switch between fixed- and sliding-seat modes quickly. With a sliding seat, the Northeaster Dory is fast and dry and would be a safe and fast open water racing boat. (A sliding seat may be added to the sailing version as well, but requires minor modifications.)

The proportions of the sailing rig follow traditional recreational dory rigs very closely. Under sail the Northeaster Dory is fast, stiff, and close-winded. Given the narrow waterline, the hull is extremely easily driven and jumps up to speed in light air - the acceleration is really noticeable. Dory sailors comment on the surprising absence of wake, visible evidence of a low-resistance hull. But like all dories, the hull flares rapidly above the water, so stability comes on strong as the boat heels under sail. Although you'll sail more slowly upwind, a convenient "first reef" is to take in the jib. Adding the "sailing upgrade" package puts the mainsail on a track for easier handling at the dock or marina, plus cam cleats for the jib for easier singlehanding.

A Lug Rig joined the options list in 2012. Right from the beginning there were requests for a simpler lug rig. The lug rig is quicker to set up, easier to handle, and can be reefed or stowed more easily while out on the water. It's not quite as fast as the sloop rig, but it might win if you count setup time on the beach.

We know of at least a dozen of these already sailing, built from drawings we issued way back in 2008. Now you can order a complete kit for that option. The Northeaster Dory's lug rig can be added to a hull built for rowing, or retrofitted to a boat that already has the sloop rig. (Our showroom boat can be switched between sloop and lug rigs in a few minutes.)

A daggerboard simplifies construction, and a yoke-and-draglink tiller arrangement (familiar from our Skerry design) gives the crew better seating options under sail. As with all Chesapeake Light Craft sailing kits, the sailing rig can be added to the Dory at any time, either concurrently with construction or years after the rowing version is complete.

Northeaster Dory

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