When someone is thinking about purchasing one of our dories, I am almost always asked the question "How long can I expect my dory to last". Well, that is a little bit like asking "How long is a piece of string".
Dories, and any wooden boat for that matter, are organic things. They are biodegradable. That's great for the environment, but what does it mean to you - the wooden boat owner. Well, it means you need to look after it. Just like your wooden house. Or wooden fence. Or wooden anything-that-spends-time-outside. Once a tree is cut down, it wants to return to the earth, and only care will stop that from happening.
If you decide to purchase a plastic boat, well you can pretty much do what you like with it, within reason, and expect that plastic boat to be around for whatever poor creature takes over the earth once we have finished destroying it and ourselves. That boat will be here forever no matter how long it lays forgotten in a swamp or a grassy field. Store it wherever you like, treat it however you like .. you just can't kill plastic, except by fire (and even then it's still here, just takes on a vastly different look).
You can't do that with a wooden boat. Like you and I, there are things a wooden boat doesn't like and things it does. Is the care they need arduous? No, not at all. They need far less attention than the average teenager (I've got three .. I know what I'm talking about). The best part of it is that it is almost entirely common-sense. No, I'm going to go ahead and say it IS entirely common sense. Things like don't let water sit inside it endlessly; don't let it bake and dry out in the heat; don't let the snow fill it, freeze, thaw, fill it, freeze, thaw (I'm in Nova Scotia .. this could go on forever). A wooden boat needs to be kept dry when it isn't in the water, it needs to have air circulating around it, and it needs to be looked over once a year: if you dragged the dory over some rocks and scratched the paint, it will start to rot there unless you give her a quick sand and a fresh coat of paint. Easy peasy. If you see damage, fix it. And, though it should go without saying, look for damage regularly. Signs are pretty obvious - for instance, if you see green skuz growing inside your dory (like in the photo below), it is from fresh water sitting in there .. for a long time. (Hopefully you won't see that. If you do, ask someone to give your hand a smack.)
We give a list of do's & don't to the people who buy dories from us - if you're interested in taking a look, you'll find that document right here. If you ever have any questions about looking after your wooden boat feel free to drop me a line and ask - even if it isn't one of our dories you're looking after.
Stories from the The Dory Shop
Wooden Boat Care
Posted on Nov 02, 2018 by Trudi Petersen Inglis