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The History of the Dory

Inspired by a fifteenth century explorer  Gaspar Corte-Real the Portuguese began their yearly journeys to the Grand Banks in the 1500’s where they continued to fish for more than 400 years. They would leave their families for six months of the year, setting out across the North Atlantic Ocean in large schooners where they would anchor up on the Grand Banks. There they would be lowered over the side in their Dories and the brave fishermen would spend the day up to ten miles away fishing and return later to the mother ship with a dory load of cod. 

The word Dory comes from the name of a Portuguese Town and became popular in North America in the 1830s when the Canadian fishing schooners began fishing the Grand Banks off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

A Dory is a small, shallow-draft boat, about 5 to 7 metres or 16 to 23 feet long. It is usually a lightweight boat with high sides, a flat bottom and sharp bows. They are easy to build because of their simple lines. For centuries, dories have been used as traditional fishing boats, both in coastal waters and in the open sea. their removable thwarts (seats) meant they could be nested inside each other and stored on the decks of fishing  schooners, for their trip to the  Grand Banks and other fishing banks.

Despite their simplicity of design, dories were known for their seaworthiness and rowing ease, although this reputation owed more to the skill of the operators than inherent factors in the design. Because of their narrow flat bottoms, they have little initial stability and are “tippy”. Traditionally, they were designed to carry large amounts of wet fish—often over a ton. They were commonly rowed by experienced seamen who understood the characteristics of the design and could compensate for the limitations. Dories exhibit high ultimate stability, tipping to a point and then stiffening up significantly and resisting further heel. 

The History of this boat, and its old simple design that spent centuries keeping men safe on the North Atlantic ocean, The Dory…. has inspired me to choose her to cross this amazing ocean in.