Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Potomac River Dory Restoration

A 1931 Potomac River Dory, built by Francis Raymond Hayden in Banks O’Dee, MD is now undergoing restoration in the boat shop of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, US.

She measures a stately 37'-0" x 12’-7” x 10-1/2".

Over the next several months museum shipwrights, apprentices and volunteers will be replacing bottom planks, fabricating a new forefoot on the stem and a section of deadwood aft with a new shaft alley. Approximately 60% of the boat will be reframed.

Please look closely at this boat. I would call this a sharpie. Often the difference between a dory, a sharpie and a skiff can be blurred. You may think this is pedantic and you would be correct. Here at DoryMan, this topic comes up often and you might be surprised to hear me say there is no clear answer.
But when, in old working boats, we find such simple, graceful beauty as this, it hardly matters what you call it.

It's art.

The Potomac River dory boat originated around the 1880s and was built almost exclusively in the area of St. Mary's County, Maryland. How the name "dory boat" came to be is not known. This unique design features a V-bottom, planked lengthwise instead of the usual cross-planking. It is believed this style derived from an earlier flat-bottomed Potomac River craft called the Black Nancy, so named because it's black hull was preserved with tar made from local pine trees.

Designed for working the Potomac River and its tributaries, the dory boat was originally built as a two-masted sailing craft used for tonging and dredging of oysters. It is estimated that 400 to 500 of these very fast and easy to handle boats were built between the 1880s and the early 1930s. Sporting traditional shear stripes of green, red and yellow, this is one of seven that have survived and are now in regional museums.


CBMM said...

Thanks for sharing our news with your followers!

Richard said...

Thanks.. You really do help me make it through the days stuck here. Always interesting

doryman said...

Is there a link or two you'd like me to share? I could add them to the post.


doryman said...

Richard, always happy to oblige.

Anonymous said...


I'd call her a skipjack. Methinks Atkin would also.
As you say, pedantic, but words have meanings.


doryman said...

Yes, she might be called a skipjack, and bears a resemblance to Atkin's diminutive "Sharpshooter".

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of his Jaquelin, which he called a skipjack even though it is only vee'd at the stern. the chines are even with the stem rabbet at the bow. Contrasted to the 29' Matty, which he refers to as a 'skif'.

I always thought that the local Chesapeake terminology for v-bottom sailers was skipjack, and what we call a skiff is called a sharpie in that region.

Not arguing, but am interested in clarifying for my own information.

I'm sure you run into this with the term 'dory' all the time. I've seen crossplanked bottoms called dories, which would cause JG to roll over.

Love your site BTW, one of the best dreamsites around.

My current dory is an Aeolus by Grunwald. Been a dory man for many miles.


doryman said...

Michael, you make a point that is hard to clarify and I will have to defer to the folks at the CBMM on this one. I have studied these working boat designs for a long time and the details blend together in a homogenous mess. The Aussies are long time pros at building shallow draft boats and they will call anything a dory that can run up on a beach.
If you include some of the more modern motor dories, you will find many V shape bottoms. I once thought a dory was a boat without a true rabbeted keel, but here is an example to the contrary.
I have some truly unique opinions of the development of shoal draft fishing vessels, which provoke much controversy. I think John Gardner (my hero) barely scratched the surface of this topic and I often wish he was still with us so I could ask him a million questions.
Just to prime your thinking a bit - look at Chapelle's Southwind sharpie, which he had the grace to call a dory sharpie.
I'd like to hear more about your dory(s). Please drop me a line. mbogoger(at) gmail.com