Bolger Light Dory

On the water
If I were to build another one

1/10 scale hull model. Straight grained knotless aspen planks left over from somewhere.

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Must have been more than ten years ago. I came across a book in a public library (what a surprise?). The book must have been "Go Build Your Own Boats" by H. Payson.

There were three or four nice designs in the book, a small sailing boat, an outboard lobster boat and a dory, whose lines caught and pleased my eye. The dory was the Bolger Light Dory, or Gloucester Gull.

I made a note of the important measurements of the dory. Not many were needed: the side patterns, three bottom widths and the mid frame measurements.

Then I forgot about the thing.

Recent history

One day I was cleaning my shed and found, not to any great surprise, something long forgotten under all the usual debris. Two 3 liter cans of something called "Epitar" epoxy tar.

"Epitar" is a two component epoxy mess made somehow of epoxy resin and coal tar, manufactured by Teknos paint factory.
The stuff is intended mainly to protect underwater and underground metal structures, but it is also supposed to be extremely abrasion resistant: ice breaker bottoms are painted with it.

Now there's a good paint for a boat bottom, I though. Tar is traditional (well, pine tar is tarditional, not coal tar, but You can't get everything), black is sexy, epoxy has all the good properties.

All I need is a bottom...

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I returned to the old piece of paper where I had the measurements. (Yes, I still knew where it was!)

The construction is a basic tape and glue version of the original dory. The sides and bottom are of 6.5 mm (1/4") birch plywood, the transom is laminated out of two pieces of ply.
The mid frame, seats and foot holds on the floor, all of pine.

All gluing and filling with West Systems 105/206.
And, of course, wheat flour as filler.

Limber holes must be at least this size to be of any use. Smaller holes will be clogged by leaves falling from trees and other trash. The holes on my frames were bored with a 64 mm (2 1/2") hole saw.
The corner holes, at the chine, are the most important. When beached, the boat always leans one way or the other, so the rain water runs along the chine.
It does not, of course, hurt to have holes in the midlle as well. It is good to have at least some drainage when the corner holes get clogged. (They will, if You keep Your boat on the beach like I do! If You have a boat shed, well, that's another thing.)

I glued the foot holds onto the bottom. Note the strips are narrower than the bottom, allowing water to run past along the chine.

I'm drilling a hole to the transom... make a handle.

I'm not going to make a sculling notch, as on the original drawings. The likelihood of me sculling with one oar is practically nil.
But every time I (or someone else) use the boat, I have to handle, move, pull, carry, whatever it.
It is so much easier, if there is a handle.

The same applies to the bow. It is best to make the breasthook in such a way, that it serves as a handle as well.

The exterior painted with three coats of the afore mentioned "Epitar". Thinned with acetone.
Hmm... acetone wasn't according to the instructions on the can... but I couldn't get it out of the can otherwise. Must have been past the one year shelf life :-)
Well, she's not an ice breaker, either.

Ready to go!
The sculls are an old 8' (240 cm) pair I found in the basement. A leftover from my grandfather. The oarlock pieces on the sculls are fastened at a 62.5 cm (24.6") inboard. This, with the spread of 115 cm (45.3"), gives the scull handles a 10 cm (4") overlap at the middle seat.

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On the water

She performs really well. She's light to scull and tracks well.

Her initial stability is on the lower side. She is so light that the scullers weight contributes most to the center of gravity of the total system. This is not to say she's tippy, just don't try to stand up.

She stiffens when she heels, so she really feels safe.

The scull length and the selected gearing feel home.

Her side view is really beautiful. Mr. Bolger is a real artist.

If You need a ligh, easy to build sculling boat, this old design is an excellent choice!

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If I were to build another one...

...I'd admit to myself, that she's a one man boat.

Sculling from the front seat with another person on the rear seat is not really feasible, at least not with sculls having fixed row locks. The spread in the front is much smaller than in the middle, so the scull handles will have a lot (=too much) of overlap. Also, the rowlock to water distance is much higher in the front than in the middle, so the sculls will have a very awkward angle.

And sculling from the middle seat with another person in the rear sinks the stern too low for it to feel safe.

So I would just leave the front and rear seats out, thus making the construction so much simpler.

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