Saturday, April 24, 2010

Building a John Gardner Bank Dory

On Friday we finished the build of the Bank Dory. All that remains will be some minor shaping, then sanding and finishing.

The students have done a very good job of construction, so the boat will be varnished, which is an upgrade from the original syllabus. Not bad for a first build. Not bad at all - I'm very proud of these young people. Not all of them would have chosen this project, but with minimal exception, they have done their best.

Those who adopted the project learned a lot, which makes it all worthwhile. If any of them takes this experience with them, I will be rewarded.

The next post in this series will be the launch of our dory. Look for it in a couple weeks. (After four coats of varnish inside and out.)

Toledo High School Bank Dory Build from doryman on Vimeo.


O Docker said...

I've gotten a huge kick out of watching this project develop. Thanks much for posting.

I am still in awe of people who can do things like this. Even though I follow the steps, it still seems like magic to me when the boat is finally finished.

You are to be congratulated for encouraging young people to get involved in something that has no USB port, touchscreen display, or remote control.

michael b said...

O Docker,
It's been a learning experience for me, too. For several years I ran my own construction company, so instructing novices on how to use tools is the easy part.
The difficulty is in emparting the magic you speak of. To be a boat builder, one needs to be intuitive. Instruction and logic will take you only so far. It's that sense of wonder that each boat contains... it's hard to express in words.

When I was in public school, toys were not allowed. It's frustrating to compete with the gadgets, which come out any time a kid is idle. In a school with only a few hundred students, where everyone sees their friends all day, why would they need to text message?
To subvert the learning process. The modern version of passing a note under the desk.

Laingdon Schmitt said...

To be fussy (as a native New Englander it is my nature), isn't it "Banks Dory", as in Grand Banks?

michael b said...

For years I had made the same assumption, until a few days ago, while rereading Gardner's "Dory Book". To my surprise (and the text of this book has never changed in the thirty years I've owned it), John calls these dories "Bank Dories". With the exception that he calls for clinker construction, this is his 12 foot version (the measurement - as we know - is taken from the length of the bottom). I had already posted here, calling the boat a banks, but have since edited. How many times have I made this mistake in all the years I've built and written about dories?!?

Laingdon Schmitt said...

By God you're right, and even if he weren't dead I wouldn't try to argue with John Gardner! Should have known better than to try to put one over on Doryman.

And by the way, congratulations on the launch, and for taking on this project. I helped teach a couple of boatbuilding classes with middle school kids at the SF Maritime Museum (we built Pelicans, of course), and it was a great experience.

michael b said...

Doryman makes mistakes all the time, but thanks to his faithful readers, it all works out in the end. Being corrected is far better than being on record in error.

John spent his life getting the story right. We can trust him.

O Docker said...

So, is this Wikipedia post just wrong, or are they two different types of boats?

michael b said...

Same boat(s). Same area.
Builders and historians I have known always referred to this design as the Banks Dory. It's so common, I never saw the discrepancy until now. Apparently Laingdon hadn't either, which is doubly curious, since he should have known, too.

John Gardner is the preeminent authority on the history of these boats. The wiki references Gardener's book, in fact. We probably have to take his word over all others.

The other reference is Howard Chapelle's "American Small Sailing Craft". I don't have a copy (I should). His research is also impeccable, so if he calls this boat a Banks, we have food for pendants.

The bottom line is, I took the lines for the boat we are building from Gardner's book and he calls it a Bank Dory.
May it always be thus.

I’ll see what I can find, but my gut reaction is if Gardner says one thing and others say something else, the others are mistaken.

O Docker said...

Thanks for the details.

I'll probably continue to call it a rowboat.

michael b said...

One of the best.
We have the frame all set up and could build you one, just let me know!

Baydog said...

Would you build ME one too? I could use the exercise

michael b said...

The shop teacher has big plans. He wants to sell the boats we build in class for the cost of materials + $50. How can you beat that deal? Each boat pays for the next.

He spotted a Cosine Wherry at the Depoe Bay boat show and now he wants his kids to build one of those.

Anonymous said...

Well, not to be argumentative, and essentially in agreement with Doryman, the usage by HIC in American Small Sailing Craft, pps 88 and 59, is "Banks dory" on two separate illustrations.

I believe that JG took the usage as a 'bank of dories' on the schooner's decks.

I'm thinking they are both correct, Chappelle in reference to the Grand Banks and Gardner to the stack, or 'bank' on deck.

We are so blessed: we can have it both ways.

I realize this is an old post, but as ASSC is resting up against the keyboard, I thought it worth the time to make this addendum.


doryman said...

We humans like to simplify history so it will fit in a book, but the story is often more complicated.
The accepted version of the cod fishery was that it was on the Grand Banks, which is just one of many Banks where cod were found.

In fact, the migration of Europeans to North America followed those fishing grounds from Portugal, to Greenland, to Newfoundland. In that sense, it seems correct to refer to the dories as Banks Dories. After years of popular usage it sounds strange to leave off the "s".

In this case, I'm going with the usage I found in the plans, though many visitors here will assume Doryman doesn't know how to spell. I don't want to be accused of trying to revise history!

Anonymous said...

It's a good feeling, isn't it, to know that John and Howard could have had the identical discussion? Maybe they did. Maybe it's a regional thing, and where they grew up, and those they grew up with, informed their word choices.

At least it adds to the ambiance of keeping the ancient vessels alive in fact and in font.

It is a good thing to keep the conversation alive because it carries so much history and so many lives in just this idea. And another generation gets their hands informed by the tools they work with.

good stuff, good stuff