Monday, June 8, 2009

The Largest Dory Ever

Trevor Davidson sent me some interesting pictures of an old coastal cruiser near his home in Victoria, Australia. Trevor was the subject of recent posts about his Cape Ann dory and during our correspondence was good enough to include this story of a hand built boat (ship?) used for local commerce. He is fascinated with dory design and calls this boat a dory. It might be the largest dory ever!
I’m inclined to call it a sharpie, based mostly on it’s extreme length (95 feet!), but it is double ended, and the bow angle is definitely a dory characteristic. However, it has no rocker and, in fact, seems to be dead flat on the bottom. It was designed with a centerboard, where leeboards might have been used, were it a sharpie. A hybrid dory/sharpie apparently, with a clipper rig - quite a unique and impressive ship!

Trevor has this to say about his find:

“Here are some pictures of a ninety five-foot dory, which is moored at a maritime museum in Warmambool, Victoria. She was used as a coastal trader for many years, working up to the 1950’s.”

“The boat was built by one man, mostly from salvaged timbers from old warehouses, auction sales etc. - quite remarkable, as he was building it at the same time. It was completed in less than twelve months apparently.”

“This included hand shaping the masts, about 10" thick and the mainmast was splice joined over a distance of about 6 feet. It had a huge drop centerboard, which allowed access to local rivers. There are new replica masts coming to be stepped in the near future, I was told.”

“You can make out in the photos the steering arrangement. The wheel is connected via a universal joint to a long stout threaded column which push/pulls the rudder, bulletproof I'd reckon.”

“The owner skippered the boat with a crew of one other man and a boy. The small deckhouse at the stern was their sleeping quarters and galley.”

“They tell of a time they were in Bass straight, a notoriously unpredictable area, which can throw up big seas with little or no warning. The boat broached, a wave crashed and broke over the side filling right up to the top of the bulwarks, but the boat survived, a testament to dories.”

“The pictures I took of the drawings and reconstruction were taken inside the hold where it was difficult to get back far enough for some shots because of the centerboard case.”

“I will be going back to the museum, to see the boat with the masts stepped. She is in Warrnambool today, on the southwest coast of Victoria, known as the shipwreck coast. There are tragic stories of countless ships coming to grief between the mainland and King Island, where there is strait about fifty miles wide - a small gap in a storm without modern navigation aids!”

“I have also included a snap of a stretch of coastline that is typical of the whole area - nothing soft to land on if you get blown ashore.”

Thank you once again, Trevor! This is a fascinating boat and if it weren’t completely on the opposite side of the globe, I might be making arrangements to see her for myself!
Hopefully Trevor will be back in touch with an update when the restoration is complete.

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