Blog

Musings from a craftsman boat builder.

Rowboats

Many years ago I had the good luck of meeting the late Phil Bolger .I was at that time working for a company, just formed, to produce a lovely little pocket cruising sailboat. Phil was a friend of the company's owners Mait Edey and Peter Duff and was supporting their efforts. Phil mentioned that he had a 33' Cat-yawl sharpie that was for sale. I made an offer and soon traveled to Gloucester to pick up my “YACHT”. A very nice surprise awaited my arrival, for I had not actually read the printed advertisement for this boat, I was informed that 15' 6” rowing dory was part of the deal. I had some good times with Pointer, the sharpie, but the real treasure was the Gloucester Gull Dory.

My ignorance of the attributes of that little craft was soon dissipated.  It got me out to my mooring , of course, but so much more. It towed well behind Pointer on cruises and took me on sunrise meanders through Cape Cod harbors while the family was still sleeping. It took me into the blustery waters of Buzzard Bay off Scraggy Neck where I found it had some nice surfing ability. Blue fishing outside Megansett harbor was great because you didn't need a gaff for you could simply roll the rail down to the water and pull the fish over the side .After our kids became accomplished swimmers they would like to get into the dory when we were sailing along and play the game of weight shift just at the last moment to avoid a collision when surfing along with the following seas. Blah,Blah, Blah, the point is this is a terrific little boat and I'm still enjoying it after 43 years.

Speaking of points, the reason for this little ramble is that there are a lot of good rowing boats. However, it seems that they are being ignored because of the advent of the inflatable cow with outboard. These noisy, smelly creations are taking over and I suspect it is because today's yachtsmen and women just do not know what they are missing. The quiet non polluting feel of the sailing yacht is abandoned once the  boat is at anchor or back on the mooring. Another aspect of the rowing boat is the exercise.

One thing that the GULL is not well suited for is sailing. Now, if you ad sailing to the qualities mentioned above, not the cow, what a combination.  Years ago a customer wanted a small boat that fit the three criteria and we decided on a 11' 6” Herreshoff design called a Columbia Tender. This design is light enough to tow behind a medium sized sailboat, it rows very well even with a heavy load and is a delightful little daysailer.

My suggestion, in all this reminiscing, is that before you go out blindly buying a rubberdub give this old fashioned idea a try. It will take some  time and effort to make the selection but you may be just as pleased with a whole new and pleasant experience. Because these boats are fun and easy to handle, the generations to come will appreciate having the experiences as well.