Dory Boat Designs: Top 4 Types of Dories


Building a dory is lots of fun and very rewarding. Before starting the build, you must find a set of dory boat designs or plans for the type of boat that you want to build. Dories can be used primarily as row boats or as sailboats. Many types of dory can be outfitted as a combination rowboat or sailboat. Knowing if you will be using the boat as a rowboat, sailboat or both is important to know before selecting your plans.

A dory is a small to mid-sized boat, usually between 15 and 25 feet long. They have a flat bottom, high sides and have been around for hundreds of years. Their design makes them stable and good in surf. Because of the stability, fisherman for many years used dories as their ship of choice in travelling to the fishing grounds or as smaller fishing boats that would be dispatched from a larger one.

There are many different dory boat designs, but they all share a few common traits. All dories have flat bottoms, a bow and stern that extends beyond the bottom of the boat and slanted or curved sides. We’ll discuss a few of the common designs below.
Swampscott Dory

The Swampscott dory was designed to be launched from the beach through the surf to allow fisherman to practice their craft. The top of the bow and stern stretch beyond the boat at a steeper angle and the sides of the boat have a curve to them which is different than some other types of dory. The curved sides and profile of the bow and stern make them a fast boat.

Cape Ann Dory

The Cape Ann Dory, or Gloucester Dory as it is also known, is very similar to the Swampscott Dory in shape. Being a little larger than the Swampscott Dory, the Cape Ann Dory can comfortably accommodate two to three people and can be either rowed or equipped with a sail. The hull has a V shape which makes it sturdy and stable in all water conditions.
Banks Dory

The Banks Dory was designed as a fishing boat that could be dispatched from a mother fishing boat. As such, the Banks Dory is usually propelled by oar, although some of the larger versions can be equipped with a sail. Their stability increases with more weight in them, which has made them ideal for fishing, as they became more stable with a larger catch. When the fishing was done, they would be returned to their mother ship and be stacked on her deck.

South Haven Dory

If you have never built a boat before, I think the South Haven Dory is a great place to start. It is a small boat, usually large enough for only one person. As such, it requires very little material and a relatively small amount of effort to build. Once you get it in the water, it is a very fast boat to row. If you want to build a larger boat, but lack experience, this is a good starter project that will teach you what you need to know for the larger boats.

The four boats above are some of the most popular Dory Boat Designs. Each has its own unique personality that makes it an ideal boat in certain situations.

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