Boatbuilding Tips and Tricks Blog Post

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Andrew Van Duyke Launched His Labrador Banks Dory in Alaska

Andrew VanDuyke launched his Labrador Grand Banks style dory in Alaska. Here's what he had to say:

Hello Jeff,
I live in Barrow, AK, and have been building this Labrador Dory.

Thought I'd let you know that we are mostly done (meaning she floats, and we've taken her on a couple short trips). Attached is a pic from just before her maiden voyage. Technically, in the pic she was far from completed. But we were anxious to do "sea trials" while the weather still held. We had 7 people on board! so a pretty heavy load and she was just fine. This was about a month ago. About a week ago we took her on another trip to a place called Plover Point, where we saw polar bears and a walrus. This last time with 3 people and not much gear (so lightly loaded). Really like the shallow draft too, as navigating around here is tricky. Lots of shallow lagoons, river deltas, silt, so we have lots of room for error when trying to find the channel such as it is.

Seems to be a great boat, handles well even in a chop and even when not heavily loaded (as I'd read before, these boats handle better when loaded). Used a 15hp and made about 8+ mph (though speed obviously is not the point). Thinking I could haul a truckload of stuff if I wanted, yet light enough for 2 guys to move onto our rickety old trailer without a winch and haul with a 4-wheeler. Weight will increase as we add seats, storage, gunwales and I would like to add a small cabin and some sort of wheelhouse because it's typically nasty here in the Arctic, even on a good day. Thinking cabin could possibly be semi-removable (as in a truck topper). Both hull and interior will be painted. Would like to rig for sailing at some point too. Long list of fun things to work on!

BTW, this boat was done on the cheap. We got all the wood for free as salvage from construction. We only purchased screws, fiberglass, glue, and epoxy resin.

Very happy with our boat (named Nerpa after the Russian word for 'seal'). We built her outside from reclaimed materials, much in the spirit of the original builders of these boats I imagine. Have gotten a lot of positive feedback from Native community members who use a similar design for hunting bowhead whales. Their 'umiaqs' are basically a flat bottomed dory (no rocker) covered in the skins of bearded seals. Nowadays, it seems like big fast motorized boats are the norm, but older folks still smile when seeing our boat because it's "old school" and reminds them of how life in the Arctic used to be.

Will send other pics later.

Andy Von Duyke

Labrador Grand Banks Dory Wooden Boat Plans

Great story! I'm eager to see more pictures.

More information and free study prints may be found at: 24' Labrador Grand Banks Dory Boat Plans

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Jeff Spira, Naval Architect, marine engineer and boat designer

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