Looking back about two years, you might remember a fellow named Erik Mancini was building a Northeaster Dory from a CLC kit. He completed his boat this summer and had a few comments to share with us about his new seventeen foot dory. At the end of Erik's tale, I'll share a video he pointed out to me, about a couple on their honeymoon in a Northeaster Dory.
"She has a balanced lug rig as designed by John Harris. I think there are about 12 or so out there with this rig. Most of them have a sloop configuration. If you look up a guy named Neil Calore, you see that he's competed in some amazing Water Tribe challenges in a NE Dory much like mine."
"Personally, I chose the lug rig for its overall simplicity and ability to be rowed while underway. After having had her out on the Mighty Delaware in some moderate breeze, I think I chose well."
"The main difficulty for my sailing area is that it kind of stinks for sailing (maybe even boating in general). Summer winds are either set to "hurricane light " or "humid jungle" and tidal currents can be as high as 4.2 knots depending on the time of year."
"There are nasty obstacles everywhere. Shallows seem to spring up for no good reason! This means that when sailing an engine-less Thistle or Flying Scot with my club (www.newcastlesailingclub.org) we have to stick to an area roughly south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge and North of Pea Patch Island. The area is essentially bisected by a rather long and rather nasty underwater jetty designed in the 1920's to limit silt accumulation. Crossing the jetty is bad and will result in a torn out hull. If you didn't know it was there (or how it was marked) you'd probably come close to hitting it. There is another and smaller jetty on the New Jersey side."
"Still, it's probably a good thing to be aware of the jetty since it marks the channel where enormous ocean going cargo and tanker vessels regularly plow through at 20 miles an hour, kicking up two big wakes at a time that can easily swamp a dinghy. Tug boats often steam around in the channel. They are so much faster than they look and I've learned to pay attention to when "their mustaches are up" and there is frothy white water high on their bows. They've snuck up on me more than once. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the crab pots and the potential for really angering a local waterman by fowling one."
"You may wonder why after saying all that, I even bother. The truth is that I LOVE sailing the Delaware precisely because of those things. Don't misunderstand, I'm not in it for some sick "flirting with disaster" thrill. Far from it. I just like that the above hazards keep most other boaters far away in the Chesapeake. Selfish I know, but true. Barely a jet ski has crossed my path in 3+ years of sailing here, much less your average stinkpot."
"We have a huge migrant bird population, and believe it or not, environmental clean up efforts have succeeded in bringing back some fish! I'm told oyster beds are getting quite healthy in the southern bay section. Sunsets are exquisite on the Delaware."
"So the question becomes, "How do I explore more of it without engine?" And the answer is my humble little CLC dory. In light or no air, I've been able to row fairly well against the current with the plan to go with it on my return. I've rowed around small islands and even pulled up to a little beach to stop and stretch my legs. I am surprised at how much a really like to row now. I even take her to a small lake nearer to my house just for the exercise of rowing."
"The sail rig has taken more time to get used to. Having been raised on racing Thistles, I had a hard time finding her sweet spot to windward. I was prepared for the windward performance to be poor compared to a sloop rigged boat, but I didn't count on how much I had come to rely on the weatherly-ness of those boats to actually navigate the river. I'd be lying if I said I don't often get stuck in tacks with my dory. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong but it's not a huge problem and I'm getting the knack of it (I think). The tiller and yoke design is also a bit tricky at first but I understand exactly why it was included in the design."
"The other day I had her on a nice close reach and was surprised at how close I was to burying the rail. My dory calls for attention to be sure. In addition, if I have a criticism it's that there isn't a lot of flotation on this design. There are no enclosed tanks, just foam underneath the thwarts. Neil Calore uses inflated bags for and aft for his adventures. I have not yet capsized her, and I really hope I don't."
"Overall, I'm really pleased my boat. I think she performs more or less exactly as I need her to given the area. I'm looking forward to going on longer trips and hope to get her into the Chesapeake at least once this summer (finally see what everyone is raving about I guess). I plan on making some modifications to her over the winter (no reef points on the sail!) but now is the time for sailing and rowing."
"Thanks for reading!
And thank you too, Erik.
Comparing a dory to a Thistle or Flying Scot is a tall order. But it sounds like Erik's Northeaster is a champion, as advertised. Yet another member of the growing tribe of sail-and-oar affectionatos. A Thistle may fly around the buoys, but Erik's "humble dory" will take him places a racing dinghy dare not.
And now to the video: