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Cape Ann dory

The Cape Ann dory is a traditional fishing boat, a variant of the beach dory or Swampscott dory. Cape Ann dories were often 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 descendants of the Cape Ann dory are still raced as the Town Class. Due to their 'V'-shaped hulls, dories, especially those that are more slab-sided than rounded, have a tendency to heel sharply at first.

Beach dories were designed to be launched behind a breakwater (structure) and into no more than a moderate surf for a day of fishing or lobstering. 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.

In 1876, Danish immigrant and fisherman Alfred Johnson sailed a custom twenty foot Cape Ann dory from Gloucester, Massachusetts, to Liverpool in 66 days, proving the design built for fishing the rough Atlantic Ocean could handle nearly any weather. Johnson's dory, named the "Centennial" in honor of America's 100th Anniversary, was outfitted with three watertight compartments to prevent sinking if swamped and to hold his supplies. Instead of the simple spirit rig usually found on traditional Cape Ann dories, Johnson equipped his with a square sail and two jibs.[1] Johnson's dory is now located in the Cape Ann Museum.[2]


  1. ^ Johnson wanted to prove he could do it alone, 28 November 2003.
  2. ^ Johnson Dory


  • Gardner, John (1987) The Dory Book. Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic Connecticut. ISBN 0-913372-44-7.