Moreland shares his knowledge
Capt. Daniel Moreland
One of the most respected sailing ship masters at sea today, Capt. Daniel D. Moreland began “messing about in boats” while growing up in the Caribbean and New England. As teens, he and his friends all had second-hand dories that they used along the coast, summer and winter. “We could repair them ourselves when we bashed them, which we did frequently,” he recalls.
Capt. Moreland first came across The Dory Shop while conducting research for his award-winning restoration of the 1894 fishing schooner Ernestina, ex. Effie E. Morrissey, in the mid-1980s.
One of the last of the Essex, Massachusetts-built Grand Banks schooners, the Effie E. Morrissey became famous as the expedition vessel of Canadian Arctic explorer Bob Bartlett from 1925-45. But the ship’s storied career did not end there.
After serving as a survey vessel during World War II, the ship was sold to Henrique Mendes, who renamed the vessel for his daughter, Ernestina, then operated her as a trans-Atlantic packet, ferrying immigrants from Cape Verde to America.
In 1982 the Republic of Cape Verde presented the ship to the people of the United States as a symbol of the close ties between the two countries. An internationally recognized authority on traditional sailing ships, Capt. Moreland was the designer and project manager of her restoration.
Dories for Ernestina
Clearly an authentic Grand Banks schooner required dories and Capt. Moreland wanted the very best. “They had to be historically accurate but they also had to be good boats, because they were going to be used,” he says.
At the time, the traditional source for dories in New England had ceased to exist as a commercial enterprise, while the cost of having the boats made at boatbuilding schools was prohibitive.
The captain’s search led him to Lunenburg where Kim Smith had recently taken over the historic Laurence Allen shop. He also contacted some museum boat shops. “But when I studied the construction methods I found The Dory Shop was well and apart the best construction and it was the most historically accurate.”
“It was all about those natural knees,” says the captain, referring to the main distinguishing feature of a Lunenburg-built dory – her one-piece, grown frames.
“That’s where all the strength is,” he says. “And these boats are truly stronger than those built with the clip (frames).”
Equally significant was the Lunenburg dory’s performance. “When I took one out for a row I found it to be more stable and responsive,” says Capt. Moreland.
Impressed, he ordered four Trawl dories, the traditional two-man boat of the Grand Banks fishery. Those boats are still aboard Ernestina today. Meanwhile, in honour of his historically accurate and U.S. Coast Guard-approved restoration of the Ernestina, Capt. Moreland received the 1987 National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award in Washington, D.C.
Refitting Picton Castle
It was nearly a decade later that Capt. Moreland returned to Lunenburg to embark on the multimillion dollar conversion that would create the sail training ship Picton Castle. Kim Smith was still building dories; in fact, Kim built a new 16’ bottom Fishmaker for the Picton Castle complete with sailing rig. (That boat has since been around the world four times and remains the crew’s top choice for island excursions.)
But Kim was already itching to return to a career at sea, so much so that he joined the Picton Castle as ship’s carpenter and supercargo, sailing for much of her first 20-month circumnavigation, then returned to school to pursue his Master’s ticket. While Kim studied, Capt. Moreland continued to sail the Picton Castle but after four voyages around the world and countless programs along the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada, as well as the Great Lakes, he was ready to pursue other ventures ashore.
And so in 2006 Kim Smith, now captain, sold The Dory Shop to Dawson Moreland & Associates, a Lunenburg-based company active in ship rigging, vessel outfitting and boatbuilding and headed by Capt. Moreland.
Dawson Moreland is committed to preserving the 90-plus year tradition of quality boat building at The Dory Shop. But more than that, Capt. Moreland is intent on growing the business within the context of its heritage and making the shop accessible to future generations.
“It’s been really exciting,” says the captain. “We have our Wednesday night race series, the Hump Cup, which attracts all kinds of young people to the waterfront. We’ve added dory building courses, through which people of all ages are learning to build boats. We’re building some new, small wooden boat designs and of course we continue to produce the wonderful Banks dories for which this shop is famous.”
An impromptu lesson outside The Dory Shop
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