Stephen Borghardt- Light Dory


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I'm an avid rower (even though I don't exactly have that skinny rowers build) and I was looking for a fixed seat design that would be seaworthy as well as give satisfying speed. The Great South Bay, where I live has a reputation for going from glasslike serenity to nasty white capped confused heavy chop in the matter of an hour. I currently row only on open water (I got very bored with the rowing club on the local river). I currently have an Alden 18' and an Oxford Rowing shell from Chesapeake Light Craft that I built last year.


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I was originally going to build the Bolger Gloucester Gull Dory but as soon as I saw the New Zealand Woodenboat website with John Welsford's Light Dory I was sold on the design. The plans were sparse on detail and left much to the imagination, but they were definitely adequate for a first time builder like myself. The plans are in Metric which initially forced me to buy a metric measuring tape, but now I actually prefer building in metric as opposed to feet & inches, metric just makes measuring everything easier.


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I lofted the plans full scale onto long rolls of tracing paper that I purchased from the local art supply store, cut out the tracings and then transferred them to the Ocume plywood sheets (Who knows, maybe I'll build another one of these). I built the boat under a carport on my patio. Everything went together pretty easily. I used 4 sheets of Ocume plywood, solid mahogany for the seats, the frames are also plywood, Oak rubrails (actually oak cabinet molding from Home Depot), and pine inwhales. I purchased the spoonblade oars from Barkley sound oars in Canada. I covered the outside with fiberglass and added extra tape along the seams for abrasion resistance. I finished the inside of the boat bright with 4 coats of Interlux Schooner varnish against the advice of others who said a plywood boat wouldn't look good varnished - I totally disagree - and I don't think I'll ever paint the inside of a boat again. I transport the boat to the water on a Rolleez dolly - I want to avoid trailers at all costs, yet still be able to handle getting her in the water without any help. This was the first boat I built from plans. It took around 4 months to complete, working on it only on weekends


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The first time I took her out I passed a local dock with about 10 or 15 fisherman milling about - when I passed by every single one of them to the man stopped what they were doing and leaned over the rail to take a look at the boat. I get compliments on it all the time. Thanks again to John Welsford for designing a very fulfilling project.

Stephen Borghardt