“Captains Courageous”


From The Boatshop
by Ron Magen

“Captains Courageous”

Remember that last scene in the old black & white Spenser Tracy / Freddy Bartholomew movie?

The father and his son are towing a small trailer carrying a row boat. While it was a ‘fine’ lapstrake hull with a couple of fishing rods ‘artfully placed’, rather than a ‘working dory’ with handlines . . Well, you get the idea.

Anyhow, that was the mental picture I had last week. I was fortunate enough to be ‘selected’ [Thanks, again, Pete !!] to give a South Haven Dory a ‘good home’. The folding utility trailer FINALLY got put to use. Pulling the boat almost to the hitch and a ‘Red Flag’ at the overhanging transom worked out nicely. [NOTE - the trailer was so low, the only thing I could see - with no load - was the outer edge of the license plate. With the dory loaded, the ‘outside’ spare blocked the view. If you use this type of trailer, a handy ‘accessory’ will be a couple of those cheap tall ‘Driveway Reflectors / Guides’ attached to the rear.]

I think I’ve wanted a dory since either seeing that old movie, or one of the family vacations to Gloucester, MA. Payson’s book on Bolger’s ‘Light Dory’ was the first ‘building’ book I bought, and I’ve ‘collected’ several plans over the years. Although much lighter than the ‘plank-on-frame’ of the ‘fishing dory’, the South Haven has the ‘Tombstone’ aft transom. A touch many of the ‘modern’ versions don’t have. One drawback of the ‘light’ construction is the fact that unsupported edges are vulnerable to damage. In this case it was the top 4 inches of the ‘Tombstone’ that was almost broken off when the dory was accidentally dropped.

While a bit of epoxy, ‘injected’ into the break, would be an adequate fix {she IS useable RIGHT NOW} I decided to go a bit further {“And don’t you always?”, says Joanne !!}. My intention is to ‘sandwich’ the entire transom with two pieces of ‘1x ‘ Mahogany & epoxy. This will also give sufficient bearing for the ‘sculling notch’ I will cut.

While well made, she has a, “she’s-finished-now-let’s-get-her-afloat” paint job . . . ‘Battleship Gray’, with white gun’ls. Probably very ‘traditional’ for a working ‘Banker’. I’m thinking more on the lines of a ‘Bright Finish’ on the transom, a Deep Green hull, and a ‘Nantucket Sand’ interior. Also Bronze oarlocks & sockets.

While my primary purpose is to use her to work on my ‘fat-a-tude’, she will also make a good conveyance to my mooring at the ‘Dragon’. The ‘beach’ there is one of stone & gravel, so getting the paint off her bottom and applying a layer of epoxy & fine-textured ‘glass {or Xynol, etc} is another project.

This may not top another club member - he rescued a 30+ footer from the chainsaw [ever go by a boat on a mooring with a BIG orange ‘CONDEMNED’ sign on it ??]. But I think it still qualifies as a ‘good deal’. Rather than give teasing snippets as I go along, hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to do a ‘full report’ . . . stay tuned