It’s hard to believe we’re already here; approaching another cold winter in Lunenburg’s historic Dory Shop. This summer we were busy enough that we had two builders employed full-time all year – a first since I’ve been here at the Dory Shop. We even had a third person hired for one particularly large project.
After finishing the beautiful Scandinavian faering boat, we found ourselves fairly busy with a number of good old dory orders – it’s what we know best. All different shapes and sizes – with motor wells and sailing rig, and even covers. There seems to be a trend of people ordering their dories and having us find boat trailers for them as well, so they can drive up here and just hitch on the trailer and take it all away. A bit more leg work for me, but it is certainly convenient, and it means they can avoid the super-high delivery fees. Since the beginning, when we first started building dories to be delivered rather than simply rowed home or out to the schooner, cost of delivery has been our biggest hurdle. It can cost almost as much as the dory itself, and while the low Canadian Dollars is certainly making our wooden boats more affordable to people living outside our borders, the difference isn’t enough to offset the cost of driving the boat from our yard to yours. Because dories can nest inside each other, I try to convince people to find someone else who wants a dory: delivering two is almost the same price as delivering one; so if there are two (or more!) people ordering dories, the deliver fee is essentially cut in half (or better).
As I type, we are part way through our last dory building class of 2016. Five participants this time, and one is a female. That’s two women who have taken part in classes this year. I’ll never understand why there aren’t more women taking these classes – the work is beautiful, the classes (and breaks) entertaining, and it’s the perfect opportunity to try something new without worrying about taking on an entire project on your own. If I weren’t having to be up in the office I’d be down there taking the course, no question.
We had a bit of a run on our small Morning Glory Dory this year (or Beer Dory as we call them in the yard). In November there will be a group of women from Women Unlimited coming to learn how to build dories. To ensure they get a good opportunity to do a little bit of everything they will be building these small Beer Dories. Three of them. They can only be with us for one week, and as this dory only takes a couple days to build, they’ll get to try their hand at everything including the painting – all of our other dories take a minimum of two weeks to build, so the participants miss out on a lot.
An interesting project we took on earlier this year was the building of a false hold in the interior of the Picton Castle. Many of you probably know this already, but for those of you who don’t: Picton Castle is a beautiful old steel hull barque which calls Lunenburg home. The Picton Castle and Dory Shop are like cousins – often helping each other out with different projects. We even share office space. This spring the ship needed a wooden hold to be used on a transatlantic voyage for filming purposes. I can’t reveal too much about what was filmed apart from the name (La Grande Traversée) and that it was filmed with next year’s sesquicentennial in mind – it is an historical re-enactment of a crossing from Old France to New France. It will be released next year, though at this stage it will be only in French.
Now, as Fall settles in around us and we brace ourselves for another winter (which all the old gardeners are telling me will be wicked cold & deeply white), we’re keeping busy with some repair work to a beautiful old Concordia. The engine has come out and a house is being built around it before we really dig in and fix her up. She’s been extremely well taken care of over the years, but she is a senior citizen (as are all Concordias) and she needs a bit tidying up.
Orders are already lining up for next year, and I guess now is the time for me to schedule in a few dory building classes. So far we’ve had nothing but glowing reviews from participants and their families. Next year should be a good one: we’re turning 100!