Dories for Youth Group


I am thinking of starting one or two Dories with the eventual goal of having maybe four to five for use with a Youth Group - Venture Scouts. There are some real cool examples of Scouts building their own kayaks but I think the dory has advantages in use, attainability, build and cost.

But there are a lot of assumptions involved. I've seen one a few times and sailed one at Okoumefest (Thanks CLC). I'm posting my assumptions and would ask that you point out where I am running off course as it where.

Yes - I know about the Team Dory but part of this is to get the kids to work independent in small groups. So a few smaller boats workes better than one big one (with pesky adults in it)

  1. A dory under oars is more stable than a canoe.
  2. Three to four youth per boat: two sleeping bag sized dry bags each  (one for bag on for other personal gear) plus one bag for common gear (tent, cooking, food, etc.). Eek, so now that is 4 youth with 9 bags. Sounds to much. Three youth with 7 bags? One bag each (like when we backpack)? If we were to kayak I’d have to have them reduce gear anyway though. Maybe adult boat has 2 people plus most common gear (better not flip).
  3. Three to four youth to a boat allows us to spread experience around. A first timer would never be on water alone.
  4. Could with practice work their way up to sailing, depending on location.
  5. More than one dory may nest on a trailer if some cushion/racing is inserted to protect finish / trunk. If held at an angle, dories could possibly fit on a trailer two to a rack?
  6. Renting canoes at destination is cheapest route long term. But having own boats expands list of destinations and builds pride of ownership. We have a lot of cool waterways close by.
  7. Having craft that seats 4 young adults allows them to come and go easier. You can try a trip and see if it suits you without building or buying a kayak (the fleet of kayaks idea is attractive as well – Shearwater Sport or sectional).
  8. Some of the tasks in a dory build are repetitive, and can be easily taught to High School age children. Sanding merit badge anyone?
  9. If you have the manual, and access to forum and CLC you may not need to be a master boat builder / wood worker to pull this off. Patience, practice, persistence... and putty?
  10.  If we start with two for our family as a proof of concept the next build would be easier. I’ve wanted one for my own for some time now.
  11. If building more than one there may be "economies" of scale that may recover some of the efficiencies lost in not kit building.
  12. Thinking of building through plans to start. Kits are easier and I am absolutely convinced the cheaper route. But if funding trickles in we can get started and keep moving as costs allow. I may inquire from CLC  if they would consider special orders for kit parts.
  13. Finishing interior bright is beautiful. But there is something to be said with a work boat finish for ease of build, build time and maintenance. Cuts into pride of ownership?
  14. Sailrite may have a kit for lug rig sail.
  15. The plans fee paid to CLC covers the cost of 2nd, 3rd, etc.  boat. CLC's terms for boats in same family are very generous, but part of this whole endeavor is teaching young adults integrity and we do not start that by shorting the designer.



If you have read this far you have my sincere thanks!



8 replies:

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RE: Dories for Youth Group

   a few coments, wont try to address all your questions.

I think a dory would be a fine choice for a youth group, assuming the water you are going to be on is not moving. I dont think a dory would substitue well for a canoe in moving water or on a stream where it is narrow.

I have understood that the kits are not a whole lot more in cost than buying the wood and hardware separately. so consider pricing everything out first.

I think a dory set up for rowing would handle 3 kids very well and if you needed to throw in a 4th in the stern (not rowing) from time to time it would be okay. but assume that the norm would be only 3 with gear. 4 would be extra.

on my own droy build I learned somewhere about a 1000% in the process. around 80% through each task I finally figured out what I had to do and how. so consider building one first to get past all that learning curve. your second third and so on builds will go MUCH better.

as for cost, I feel that there would be some savings for multiple boats but not necessarily in the supplies and parts. you will get more efficient with the amount of supplies like epoxy over time, you will also use up left overs and only really have one set of leftovers at the end rather than a lot for each boat. But the main efficiency will be in the tools, not having to get a lot of extra tools, or more precisely using the tools across more than one boat. 


hopefully you have a good sized work space. you will need more than you think. and spend some time setting or building up a decent work bench, and build some decent saw horses. having the right set up will prevent you from constantly moving around everything and you will enjoy your work because you will get to do more of it.


There is no aspect of the build that a motivated HS kid cant do, the key will only be the motivation. Skill will all be learned by the whole team. 


I finished bright, and it is beautiful, but it will be a lot of work and it was a lot of work doing it. I have seen photos of boats painted white on the inside except for the thwarts which were left bright and i thought that also looked very good and you will be on the water a lot faster with a lot less sanding.




RE: Dories for Youth Group

I know it is a kayak example, but you may want to check out:

It is a well run program and you may be able to copy some good ideas.

I definately suggest paint and not varnish... K.I.S.S.

Sounds fun!

RE: Dories for Youth Group

Thanks for the tips - very helpful. Especially something as simple as a work bench where every tool has its place can make the build less frustrating.

The kits are the best way. Easiest, and less expensive in the long run. Anyone reading this waffling between the two choices I would reccomend kits. With that said I can schedule 3 fund raising events over the winter. Spaced apart. So I can have price of a full kit next spring or take proceeds from the first event and purchase a few sheets of ply. Then go back for the fiberglass., etc. And one of the skills the kids are responsible for is finance - they need to be acutely aware of revenue/expenses... blah, blah, blah (this is not a finance forum or a Scout forum

 am only 5 hours from Lake Champlain. Love sailing it. Looks like an impressive program. I'm really torn about kayaks. The Shearwater sectional is very  attractive. These are High School kids - poised on greatness. The ability to take the sectional with them pretty much anywhere (ex dorm room) is really cool. But like the Champlain camp there is an initial financial bump to get over. 


RE: Dories for Youth Group

   I am guessing that you will not be adding the sailing option at this time. I do suggest however that you then get as a stand alone add-on the rudder/tiller in the kick up version. it will allow you to beach the dory with rudder still on, and you can use it when rowing by having your 3rd-4th person in the back steering while 2  row and not worry about where they are going. Everyone gets a task to do and no one is just sitting there like baggage. the kick-up rudder version will give you the flexibility you need, it is availabe separately. make up a tiller stick that is shorter (maybe 50%) than the normal one if you dont think anyone will steer unless actually in the stern. the longer tiller is made for sailers that are likely sitting in the middle of the boat.


my guess is that your normal setup would be two rowers each with two oars, but consider when having 3 rowers have then  each with only one oar, staggered two on one side and one on the other. Each person will provide twice the thrust on a single oar and the oars wont get in the way of eachother.




RE: Dories for Youth Group


"Three to four youth per boat: two sleeping bag sized dry bags each  (one for bag on for other personal gear) plus one bag for common gear (tent, cooking, food, etc.). Eek, so now that is 4 youth with 9 bags. Sounds to much. Three youth with 7 bags? One bag each (like when we backpack)? If we were to kayak I’d have to have them reduce gear anyway though. Maybe adult boat has 2 people plus most common gear (better not flip)."

Have you ever taken a week long hike?

Each person carries one pack and any common gear is spread equally amongst the group. Each person carries their personal gear and then some carry a tent and some food and his buddy would carry more food and some cooking utensils. In a boat or canoe you can carry more packs per person than hiking. If you need to portage, then all make more than one trip.

 “Three to four youth to a boat allows us to spread experience around. A first timer would never be on water alone.”

Not if you get them all trained and do shorter preparatory trips of one day, two days and a weekend.  

You will also have to deal with having enough adults per youth to meet the organization's outdoor policies as well as having the aquatic training and qualified personnel for safety coverage.

You will also need chase cars unless you complete a circular trip and have qualified drivers as required by the program.

You might want to start with 4 boats and then build more as needed. You could rent canoes if you have more participants. Your smallest group will be up to 7 people, 5 youth and 2 adults, so that would be 3 to 4 boats.

You might want to talk to other Venture Crews, Explorer Post, or Sea Scouts Ships for additional help and suggestions.




RE: Dories for Youth Group

Thanks for the rudder tip. And offset rowing - interesting. I was already thinking one youth would be be on tiller. Yes, the long term plan is sail; we want the foundation for that but it really has to be phase two I think.

Yes - I have been out for a week + with a canoe myself (Algonquin Park) and many 2-3 nighters. I have been youth group camping for 10 years now. With the Scouts we occasionally do shake downs of packs to make sure they have important gear; with the Ventures this would be an every time thing run by the youth with an appropriate check list. Float camping seems more attractive to this particular group of youth and not carrying your stuff on your back is part of that I think. The average youth has a large sleeping bag rated to 40 degrees. This is bigger than mine or yours might be. I can encourage them to pick up something smaller but am using 2 dry bags as an estimate. Individuals will  have to invest in gear betters suited for wilderness camping if they are interested in longer trips.

Yes, preparatory trips already in the works: local pond, Erie Canal (protected waterway) for initial distance training and 1st overnight at a State Park island camp a short paddle across a bay with options for exploring (Canoe Point, 1000 Islands NY). 1st Wilderness Trip may be Massassauga Provincial Park which offers protected and open water and circular routes. But if we have our own fleet we'd be dropping them in the water for day trips as often as possible. We'd even be able to incorporate tame on water training at most meetings when weather appropriate. 

Yes, rental canoes are available. Will be interesting how comparative speeds work out. One or the other will have to hold back I think and we can build waypoints (wait-points) into the route. 

We appreciate your advise and feel better seeing how your concerns matched some of the ones they came up with and are addressing.



RE: Dories for Youth Group


Good luck with your youth oriented work, they will remember whatever you do for the rest of their lives.  I finished a NE Dory last winter and have sailed and rowed it...a few thoughts.. 

--Agree on the kick up rudder idea

--If you think you will be eventually adding a sail kit, suggest the lug rig for simplicity, and suggest adding the daggerboard trunk during the build if possible, but I bet you know it can be done later if you cant.   

--As far as multiple people on board, I rowed my dory with 2 other adults and one teenager...I think the combined weight  was in the area of 650-700 pounds.  Well under the 800 pound rated capacity and I was amazed how well it rowed and maintained good balance/stability...even with non "boaty" people aboard it felt safe and stable.  The 4 seating positions allow you to position the people for good fore/aft weight too. I would think one adult, 3 youth, and their gear would be perfect when rowing, equally stable with plenty of freeboard for rowing.

--Also suggest painting the entire hull, inside and out, easier to maintain..I like leaving the thwart seat boards, bulkheads, rails etc varnished...just personal choice

--Depending on your trailer arrangement, you may want to add a bow eye..CLC's bow eye is a good one, just take your time in deciding where to position it.

--Consider wrapping any sharp edges on your trailer/rack in indoor/outdoor carpet so rough handling is not as much a concern.   Those edges have a way of finding ways to scratch your boat.

That's a few thoughts to chew on..good luck!



RE: Dories for Youth Group

   Regarding costs for a multi-boat project...

I organized a group build of 5 kayaks last winter. The kit price for an on-the-water kayak is over a thousand dollars, kit  + shipping + paint + shop supplies + paddle.

But building from plans, the per boat cost was about $550, by buying the plywood and epoxy in larger quantities and from less expensive vendors, and combing shipping on many other items. I live far away from any marine retailer, so everything gets shipped, if it's  not available from our local Ace hardware!

We made underlayment-ply templates from the plan, and then just routed each boat's parts from okoume blanks, basically making our own kits, fairly quickly.

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