Deblois St. Dory

A Swampscott Dory, the Ultimate Sail & Oar Boat

The DSD on the Maine Island Trail.

Update May 2015: Three DSD's are being launched this season! One recently sold to a guy in UP Michigan, a balance lug-yawl version with centerboard.

Plans package price (need to build from scratch)
$175 includes Full Size Patterns that you can have printed
(all delivered by PDF downlaod)

CNC Plywood Kit includes all plywood CNC cut and plans package
freight add'l, email or call to order

LOA 18'8"
Bottom length 13'6"
Beam 4'10"
Depth Amidships 18 3/8"
Hull weight 180-225 lbs (can be built ply or solid)

"Every time that I launch my Deblois St Dory at least one person at the boat ramp comes up to admire and inquire about the boat. While others at the dock are shuttling back and forth in their dinghies or stressfully launching mammoth fiberglass powerboats I can untie, launch, load the dory and be underway in five or ten minutes.  This ease of launch makes the boat very accessible for the times when I just want to go out for a short row after work or for a relaxing sail to watch the sunset."  ~Shane Hall, boatbuilder and owner of hull #1, Portland, Maine


I was compelled to draw the Deblois Street Dory because of a fascination with the dory, its history, and its beautiful lines. Certainly, there were plenty of dories available, one at Mystic I was granted permission to document, but with inspiration from Sam Manning's penned drawings and Gardner's encouraging written words from the Dory Book, I had to draw my own dory.

The DSD hand drawn on paper and in the computer.

I started by drawing a hull shape with the Dion Dory in mind and with Gardner's approach on his dory drawings in mind: to have a shape that was a little more aligned with sailing since this was something people mostly seemed to want. Really what resulted is what a dory truly is, a 50/50 sail and oar boat. The boat was drawn at 1/8th scale, 1/4 scale and modeled in the computer. Two quarter-scale models were built to prove out the lines and proportions.

Quarter scale model of the Deblois Street Dory

Hull #1 was launched in 2010 and is used extensively along the Maine Coast in exactly the sail-and-oar fashion I had in mind. Rowing single or tandem along the Maine Island Trail and beaching at interesting places. Sailing when the wind blows, rowing when it fades. Loaded with kids and gear. Or used for a quick splash after work and before sunset.

First opportunity in early 2011 to try Hull #1!

The DSD is a real Dory

A dory is defined by its construction style as much or more than how it looks. Dory construction is straightforward: cut out a bottom shape, erect 4 or 5 frames, attach stem & transom, and brace this set up upside down over a strongback to establish the rocker. Plank with 4 to 5 strakes, flip, put on gunwales and install seats. And that's really it. My kit goes together just like this: it is a real dory! The kit of course is composed of all the precut plywood needed to build the boat. The frames are precut ply, as well as all planking, and includes patterns for making things like seats. The DSD can be built traditionally as well, pine or cedar planks over oak frames, sawn or laminated.

Hull #1 being planked in Portland, Maine winter 2010.

My dory is updated for recreational use. Flotation is designed into the ends of the boat, the shape lends itself more to initial stability and sailing performance without sacrificing rowing ability, and it is lighter weight. The flotation is essential for safety and self-rescue. I had my kids in mind in wanting a dory that was a little less "tippy" initially. And the light weight makes her much easier to manage on the beach and trailer. In use solo-sailing, the boat benefits from some water ballast under the middle seat.

The mkII version being built in Bar Harbor, Me by a doctor (Spring 2015)

Rowing is a breeze single, double or triple!

One great thing about the DSD is its versatility. This dory rows very easily single with 9' oars, spoons or flat blade. Even in a breeze she tracks well and feels light. Two-up, the boat really shines. With the power of two rowers, speeds of 4kts plus are comfortable. To trim this or any dory, the heavier rower should sit aft. The reason is that in a dory, the lower portion of the "tombstone" transom functionally acts as the skeg, and skegs provide directional stability for a boat.

Believe it or not, the builder/owner of hull #1 often has a third person row. He says the boat absolutely loves it and really flies. He also brings out kids and other adults for a ride. Pack 'em in there, a dory can take a load. From Shane,

"Primarily I use the boat with at least one other person, with two of us rowing we can make great headway straight through a strong wind if we are in a hurry to get to a destination.  In calm conditions the boat is a pleasure to row tandem or with three of us rowing.  The boat is easily manageable solo but flies through the water with multiple rowers."  ~ Shane Hall, hull #1

The Deblois Street Dory loaded up with plenty of freeboard to spare.

Sailing is safe and exciting

If you want to have fun on the water, sail a dory. Dories are not known for superb sailing ability, but by increasing initial stability and moving aft the distribution of volume in the hull, I made this dory fast.

One owner of a traditionally planked, Dion Dory finally approached me at the end of the small boat messabout I host here in Portland. He simply said, "wow, why is your dory so much faster than mine?". I did not tell him that the full sail area wasn't up and the DSD had 2 more people aboard than he did.

Sailing the sprit rig. She is easy to sail when rigged properly and is fast for a dory. Another Dory sail nearby once exclaimed my way: "Why is your dory so much faster than mine!?"

Don't get me wrong, you will need to be on your toes sailing the DSD, especially if you opt for the larger sail area options. Take time to get to know the boat and hone your abilities, reef early, and use some water ballast aboard to help weight the boat down.

There are no fewer than 8 sail rig combinations you can choose from for the DSD: a fishermans sprit rig, spritsails of 76 and 88 sq. ft.; sprit sloop; two lug-yawl rigs, gunter and gunter-sloop. A foil-shaped daggerboard gives the boat good windward ability and is fun to build and easy to maintain.

Take her on the Maine Island Trail!

The DSD at twilight on a MIT trip.

I designed the DSD very much with trail cruising in mind. The Dory seemed the perfect platform for tripping with its versatility, capacity, and flat bottom for beaching.

"Mostly I use the boat for weekend camping trips, island hopping in the bay or cruising around the large lakes of western Maine. Perhaps my favorite characteristic of the boat is the ample room for stowing gear and the fact that the more food, water, books, and supplies that I load into the boat the more seaworthy she becomes.  I have enjoyed weekend trips in Muscongus Bay and Casco Bay exploring several MITA islands.  This versatile, seaworthy boat that can easily be beached and maneuvered through shallow waters. The DSD has opened up a whole new world of coastal inlets and islands to explore."  ~ Shane Hall, hull #1

Maine Island Trail Association has taken interest and the first of a series of newsletter articles has been published. Download it here.

Also click here to see a new story on MITA with the Deblois St Dory and Echo Bay Dory Skiff taking center stage.