The doryaks are taking a short vacation while we bang out an all new boat. It’s basically a Briggs Grand Canyon Dory, but about a foot-and-a-half shorter and nearly a foot wider. Why? Well, over the past few decades so many gravity sports have gone shorter and wider: Skis, surfboards, kayaks… and they all work better and are easier and more fun to run. So it stands to reason this may be true with dories. I mean…the doryaks are way wider and shorter proportionately that a standard Briggs boat… and they are an utter hoot to row. So here we go. What could possibly go wrong?

We are calling the design Babe, after the most famous chubby badass we could thing of– the Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout, the Great Bambino: Babe Ruth.

We drew up Babe last summer at 15 feet long, then let him/her simmer for a season or two. Our brave client, Brin, who is up for adventure, felt he’d like it a wee bit longer, so we stretched it back to 15’6″. After noodling around a bit with bulkhead and seat arrangements, we re-lofted the lines, drew up the ribs, stem, and transom, and started building them. As we have come to trust the lofting process more and more, we are actually building and attaching much of the structure before assembling the hull. Bulkheads and much of the deck framing can go in ahead of time. It saves a ton of time and inconvenience over trying to retrofit it into an assembled hull. Lastly, we build a strongback to hang all the parts in space:

An amazing moment. Of course the strongback is screwed to the floor right where the outfeed of the tablesaw is. But by a bizarre quirk of fate, the notches in the strongback let us shoot a plank clear through.

After making sure the structure it is fair and true, we wrap a test panel on one side, mark it, then batten it into a fair pattern.

We then make two identical side panels. We add an extra inch or two to the top of the sidepanels, however, so we can adjust the shear line to eye in three dimensions.

Bottom on next, then fiberglass and rocket ships.

Now for the scary part. Clamp on the gunwales, roll her outside, and adjust the eye-crometers. Turn it around for different angles. Drink another beer. Squint. Nudge. Squint. Sip. Call it.

We ended up adding about 3/4″ to the bow and about 1/2″ to the transom.


Then we made Brin do the terrifying shear cut.Sweet.

And now for more deck framing.

A  short, wide dory has a pretty radical curve throughout the midship. Where to put a 10’6” spare oar? A radical oar slot, I guess.

Meanwhile, shop issues continue to crop up. I have about $3,000 invested in 18v Dewalt cordless tools. Which are now obsolete, but very functional. Unfortunately the batteries go bad, and Dewalt no longer makes them. And the after-market ones I have tried are caca. What to do? Here’s an autopsy of a dead 18v battery. 15 wee 1.2v batteries in a daisy chain equals 18v. The question is, do we try and get quality wee batteries and rebuild the suckers? I think we’ll give that a try.


Well, I got an unexpected check for shop services, so I went on a spree. Exploring the world of new 20-volt cordless tools. I guess we’ll live in both worlds for a while.

A little more play. Dawn and I spend Valentine’s Day at South Rim. Here’s our lunch guest.