AskDefine | Define dory

Dictionary Definition



1 a small boat of shallow draft with cross thwarts for seats and rowlocks for oars with which it is propelled [syn: dinghy, rowboat]
2 marine fishes widely distributed in mid-waters and deep slope waters

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A small flat bottomed boat used for fishing both offshore and on rivers.

Extensive Definition

For the fishes known as dories, see dory (fish). For the Greek Spear, see Doru.
The dory is a small, shallow-draft boat, approximately 5 to 7 metres (15 to 22 feet) long. Variant spellings are doree and dori. The British Royal Navy spells it dorey (OED).
The dory is a lightweight and versatile boat with high sides, a flat bottom and sharp bows. They are easy to build because of their simple lines. For centuries, dories have been used for commercial fishing, both in coastal waters and in the open sea. They are also used for whitewater rafting on rivers.
The hullform is characterized by flat sides angled approx. 30 degrees from the vertical, and a bottom that is transversely flat and sometimes bowed fore-and-aft. (This curvature is known as 'rocker'.) The stern is frequently a raked surface (a narrow transom) that tapers sharply toward the bottom forming a nearly double-ended boat. The traditional bottom is made from planks laid fore and aft and not transverse, although some hulls have a second set of planks laid over the first in a pattern that is crosswise to the main hull for additional wear and strength.


The classic dory

The classic dory is the Banks dory, an open water boat used for fishing cod off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland since the 16th century.

The beach dory

During the middle of the 19th century, the villagers along the coast of Massachusetts, USA, built dories, derived from the Banks dory, but designed to be launched from the beach. Specifically, beach dories were designed to be launched behind a breakwater from a beach and into no more than a moderate surf for a day of fishing or lobstering. Bank dories were often stowed on the deck of a fishing vessel whereas a beach dory doesn't have this limitation. There were three general areas where these beach dories were built, giving name to the style of the dory generally built there:
  • The Swampscott dories were built with more rounded sides and slightly less overhang in the bow and stern than a bank dory. They are generally from 14 to 18 ft in length, the longer boat being rowed by two oarsmen. The bottoms are flat but narrow, an almost round bottom. The flat bit allowing them to sit square on a sandy beach.
  • The Cape Ann dory differs from the Swampscott dory in that they could be fitted with a small spirit rig sail, a short folding centerboard, and washboards (bits of deck that run alongside the boat to keep the water out when heeling). The oars were generally used to propel the boat to the fishing grounds and the afternoon wind would come up and allow the sails to be used for the return trip.

The river dory

River dories are another evolution of the Banks dory, converted this time for use in rivers. The McKenzie River dory is characterized by a narrow, flat bow, a pointed stern, and extreme rocker in the bow and stern to allow the boat to spin about its center for ease in manoeuvring rapids. They first appeared on the McKenzie River in Oregon in the middle of the 20th century. River dories are used by fishermen who want more control than a rubber raft provides.


Nested stacks of dories were frequently carried on the decks of fishing schooners out to the fishing grounds, where they were then deployed to lay longlines or tend nets. Until the first half of 20th century the dories were used by fisherman to fish for cod in the North Atlantic. Single tripulated boats were launched from the mother ship and would often go several miles away, with no communications, in order to catch the fish with long lines. The fishermen had to know basics of navigation and rely only on themselves.
Dories were once commonly used to travel dangerous whitewater rivers, where their superior manoeuvrability and strength made them preferable over other watercraft available at the time. Examples such as the McKenzie River dory usually seat from two or three to four people including the oarsman. Most whitewater dories have since been supplanted in this purpose by inflatable rafts which require less skill and are generally more durable for collisions with rocks. However, fishing guides on many western U.S. rivers still use drift dories because of their manoeuvrability and ability to be rowed upstream. Additionally, their high rocker and extremely shallow draft give them low resistance to the flow of water, effectively holding the boat in place for the prolonged fishing of holes in the river. Typically salmon, trout, and steelhead are fished for this way.

Modern use of the name

The term "dory" is also used for a different and otherwise unrelated type of modern boat. This is a rectangular plastic or fibreglass dinghy with a cathedral hull, used as a working boat, tender, or fishing platform. The rectangular shape provides maximum space for a given length and beam. Its cathedral hull makes it extremely stable while still being easily-driven and hence reasonably fast with a small outboard motor.


External links

dory in German: Dory
dory in French: Doris (bateau)
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