Monday, 17 September 2012

Flat Bottomed Boats

Flat Bottomed Boats

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Since the Fete des Doris (Doris = French, Dory = English) took place on the estuary here, I have been giving considerable thought to flat bottomed boats of all types, mainly because they may offer a real ‘low cost cruising’ option. Like many, I had assumed that flat bottomed boats would be unseaworthy in some way – and yet the history of the Dory suggests this simply isn’t true, they were used in open seas and seemed to gain stability as weight of caught fish increased.

Further research suggests it was the dory which opened up North America. There is an excellent Book written by John Gardiner ‘The Dory Book’. I simply haven’t been able to put it down.

Now add a dory design to a sailing rig and you have a potentially safe shallow draft low cost cruiser. These photos, taken at the fete, give an idea of what I mean. Obviously with a sailing rig you need something to bite the water and produce forward movement rather than sideways slippage - but Dories were not the only flat bottomed boats around, and I came across an old Dutch sailing barge moored up on the river the other day. She had ‘leeboards’, retractable keels attached to the sides of the boat, each of which could be raised and lowered to provide the necessary ‘bite’ depending which tack you were on.

I’m not a boat builder but the construction of a Dory seems simple enough (although this one seems more complicated than most). There is another book (mentioned on my essential reading page), The A-Z of Cheaper Boating, which suggests that flat bottomed cruising dories have been built in the past and sailed long distances very successfully, it’s food for thought for any impoverished enterprising would be sailor.

If you'd like ro understand more about dory's this book Dory Book  is the definitive work on the subject