Chesapeake Light Craft: Northeaster Dory

The Northeaster Dory is a quick wooden boat that can be rowed or sailed. With kits from Chesapeake Light Craft, you can do it yourself, too.

Chesapeake Light Craft
Christa Buckingham

John C. Harris is one of those guys who always knew what he wanted to do. He was drawing boats from a young age, building them by the time he was 14, and owned Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC) by the time he was 27. CLC has sold more than 20,000 kit boats from its Annapolis, Maryland, workshop, and the staff teaches boatbuilding courses around the country.

The Northeaster Dory, like most of CLC’s designs, was drawn by Harris. Strong and light, it can be rowed by one or two people and can also be fitted with a drop-in sliding seat, so you can switch from fixed to sliding mode in minutes. If you go with the optional sailing rig, you’ll find that the proportions follow those of traditional recreational dory rigs. Under sail, the Northeaster Dory is fast (up to 7 knots!) and close-winded. Thanks to a narrow waterline, the hull is easily driven and responds well in light air.

If you're handy, God bless. CLC provides an extremely detailed instruction manual with every kit, and it's also happy to answer by telephone or e-mail any questions that arise. Me, I needed a teacher there to lead the way, and Harris was easygoing, good–natured and patient. The way I saw it, I got a Maine vacation (albeit a hard-working one) at WoodenBoat School (read the full story and see the photo gallery) and a gorgeous boat for the cost of tuition ($750, with partner an additional $375) and materials ($1,416 for the rowing version, $2,570 for the sailing version). Price a boat of this quality online and you'll be lucky if you can find a used one for under $5,000.

Chesapeake Light Craft, 410-267-0137; www.clcboats.com