Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

Perhaps people might have some opinions that can help me.

I am/would be a first time boatbuilder, but I am handy and I have worked with Fiberglass and epoxy before.  But I don’t have a proper workspace for building something as big as a boat.   Some stuff can happen inside but most construction will happen outside in some sort of makeshift weather protection/work only when it’s nice out, etc in the spring.  
I would be sailing in protected bays in Cape Cod mostly.   Ideally mooring it in front of my house which at low tide is mud flats.   
I have been sailing a sunfish prior but would like to have a boat that I get less wet even when things are going well (sunfish is fun put its kind of like a surfboard with a sail, and very close to the water), and something that could accommodate at least one adult passenger beyond me, (and possibly two near-adults, for a total of 3, but that is optional) at times.  

Here are my thoughts so far:

Northeaster Dory (lug rig):
Relatively easy to build.  80-120 hours apparently.
In a pinch can be car-topped (with difficulty)

Cons: As the NE Dory 17’ due to vagaries of local bylaws, I would have to insure it and make local Harbormaster additional insured.  Boats 14’ and less are exempt in my area.  That’s not a huge expense, but annoying.  Also I think they will make me upgrade mooring to 100lb anchor (even though it weighs as much as a canoe, mooring rules are driven by length.) Currently I have a 75lb mushroom which I can (just barely) pull and place during off season myself so a bigger anchor I would probably have to hire somebody for pulling mooring each season.  

Peapod(single lug):

super sexy and really stable.  Big feeling cockpit.  I'm told that while it has a bit less of a payload than the NE Dory it "feels" bigger.  I’m a big guy (6’2”) and my kids are tall for their age as well.  
Being under 14’ I would not need a new mooring or additional insurance.  

A bit more expensive (once you do spacered inwales and folding rudder on NE Dory the gap narrows between the two)
Build time and complexity.  I think this potentially is the biggest con for me.  I see several people have had some minor difficulty getting skeg to play nice when building.  And 200 hours build time means it would take 5 weeks if I treated it like a 9-5 job, which sometimes I will, but I can’t do that for 5 weeks in a row.  I’d like to build it but I’d also like to sail it :) and again I have not had a chance to build a boat yet myself and realize there is such a thing as biting off more than I can chew.  

Needs a trailer.  More expense.  Of course, I may find I need a trailer for the NE Dory anyway after a couple strenuous car-topping events.   

Anyway my practical self tells me the NE Dory would be easier to pull off, but I love the lines of the Peapod and other than needing a trailer, and the possibly much longer build time, the Peapod allows me to skirt additional complexity of being beholden to insurance companies and paying for mooring haulouts etc.  

Someone help me! Every day I toggle between one or the other as a first choice. Of course, even if I make the "wrong" choice, I am still going to have a great boat, so maybe I need to stop sweating the details, but you know how it is.  


22 replies:

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RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build


Interesting dilemma.
My dory became a boat shaped object in about 35 hours of work. Took another couple of months of every evening and weekends to complete hull and sail rig. No scuppered inwales. Sail rig components took as long if not longer than the hull but I started with rough sawn timber for spars.
I’ve added sliding bench seats which help with people placement. Even with the extra four feet of length the Dory feels pretty small. I’m 5’10”, 175 lbs and have successfully sailed with a pal of 6’2”, 230 lbs. Sailing with two grown @$$ men is a bit snug. When solo I start to get spray over the gunnels around 7-10 knots on a beat, depending on sea state (short chop on Chesapeake Bay). Count on a trailer for the dory.

Given all your constraints and my deep love of the NE Dory, I’d probably go for the Peapod. BTW, there’s a great article on Peapods in this month’s Wooden Boat Magazine.

Pics of my dory and mods here.


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

Remember, you do the building part only once, then the rowing, sailing, mooring and finances for the rest of the boat's life. Personally, while both are nice boats that can be a lot of fun, I would go hands-down for the Peapod. I've tried both and enjoyed the dory, but loved the peapod.

It's the best rowboat I'ver ever rowed. It's maneuverable yet goes only where you want it to. I never had to correct its track and was able to concentrate my energy on moving forward instead of staying straight, yet was also able to whip around a buoy with hardly any effort.

Thanks to the pandemic I had gone over a year without sailing, yet when I got a chance to sail the peapod (lug rig) at MASCF in October, it was perfect. It did what I wanted it to, never got stuck in irons, handled wakes as if they weren't there, let me easily make tight turns around buoys and made really enjoyable fast runs in a straight line. It also felt totally safe and under control heeled over such that the gunnel was only an inch or two above the water. It stayed bone-dry except for the water that came aboard with me as I got in.

It doesn't feel bigger than it is just because of the cockpit layout. It also handles like a much bigger boat. That and the TARDIS technology that John managed to design in.

As far as the build time, don't put yourself on a deadline, just do something every day and suddenly you'll have a boat. And you never have to do anything complex, just lots of simple steps in a row.

That's my vote.


PS - do check out Silver Salt's pics. It's a really beautiful build. I think that he's won some awards with it.


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

Hello Nate, welcome to the club!  I don't really have any opinion regarding either boat because I have sailed neither.  I decided that a GIS was the boat for me.

My comment has to do with your comment: "And 200 hours build time means it would take 5 weeks if I treated it like a 9-5 job, which sometimes I will, but I can’t do that for 5 weeks in a row."  When it comes to small boat building, this is really not true because of the amount of time spent waiting on epoxy/glue/paint/varnish to dry/cure.  You will spend one hour labor gluing up the puzzle joints then 8 hours waiting for it to cure.  

Since you will be building outside, you will have additional delays waiting on the right weather.  I build in my small garage in N FL, but do all my sanding outside.  Several times I have had to wait a full week for the right weather (no rain).

Honestly, as a first time builder working outside in a northern climate, you will have you hands full trying to complete a complicated build like the Peapod in one summer.

An alternate course to building outside might be one of the CLC classes.  They use modified kits and you end up with a complete ready to finish hull by the end of the class.


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   That's two votes for Peapod and a cautionary warning about build time for Peapod, which is well noted.   I asked a couple of friends on FB and they lean Peapod as well, although they would have less specific experience.  I love the look of the peapod, and my one concern is the build time.  I don't want to just slap it together of course, so I am happy to take as long as it takes, although I would like to avoid a year of juggling an outside build.  But man what a gorgeous boat.
Speaking of gorgeous boats, Silver Salt, yours looks fantastic!  I love the yawl mod.  clearly a customized boat by someone with a proper shop.  I liked the capsize test photos too.  I'll be happy if I get a stock build done mostly right. :)


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   It sounds like you've already made up your mind, but another consideration for the peapod is that a temporary shelter to house a peapod is going to cost half as much as a temporary shelter to house a dory for the build. You can build the peapod in a 15' shelter, where as the dory would require a 20', should you decide its worth keeping it out of the elements.  Harbor freight has a 17' shelter that would have a lifespan of about 2 years, enough to get your peapod finished and give you more working days. 

If I was going to build anything bigger than the peapod, which is the longest that I can fit inside, I would have gotten one of those shelters to keep the weather off and to have a space I could heat up enough to epoxy during colder weather.  

If you don't have to worry about permitting in your area, you could also build a bow shed to do your build.  On a sunny day in the middle of winter, you'd be in a t-shirt in a shrink wrapped bow shed.  


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   I recently finished a Peopod as my first build. Enjoyed the process very much and love the end result. I worked diligently in a closed shop with plenty of space and also had a goal to finish by a certain date.

Recommendations: at least double the amount of time you are estimating. Start as early as you can and pat yourself on the back if you are on the water before the season is over this fall. Enjoy the build, there will be many sailing seasons.


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   Would you say the 200 hour build time is accurate?   I fully expect it to take longer than I expect, as many long form projects do.  My biggest worry is my mostly outdoor workspace.  It means shuffling things inside occasionally and pleading forgiveness from family until project is done....


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   Well, I am a beginner, made several mistakes causing-rework, and maybe am a slow worker, but it took me considerably more than 200 work hours to get it done. I think that estimate could be accurate if you know exactly what you are doing and everything goes right. You also have to add the curing times in between work sessions as previously pointed out by others. If you can use your indoor space for working with parts such as floorboards and seats and store those inside it will be a big help.

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   Jose and I started and finished the Peapods about the same time. I agree that it took well more than 200 hours. However, I didn't rush it, took time to learn and think about what I was doing. Yes curing adds to the total time even when I tried to go off and do other side projects. I am in a garage in NC but even here the temperature slowed me down. 

With that said,  CLC customer support is great as well as the knowledge gained from this forum so you're not alone in your journey.

I'm excited to get the Peapod out on the water and go for a sail. Bit cold right now!

Regards Dean

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

Yes, you'll want to allow extra for time spent in what Howard Chapelle called the "moaning chair."  This is a comfortable place to sit (an old armchair is a good choice) with a view of the work in progress so the builder can have a cup of coffee and think through something which might be vexing him some.  When we built our PMD, I spent many an hour in a comfortable camp chair with the building manual in my lap, a cup of coffee to hand, and a puzzled look on my face which eventually resolved when the Eureka! moment finally struck.

We also decided early on to discard any notion of working to a schedule or keeping track of the time.  I got more than my fill of that sort of working to deadstnoes and milelines at work!  Besides, I'm no sort of boatwright--more of a boatwrong--and we wanted to concentrate on getting things right than getting things done.  Turned out to be a fun family project, with lots of participation in varying degrees from extended family members.


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   Well, to be honest, that north of 200 hour build time scares me, especially since I will have a makeshift outside buildspace most of the time.  But once built, the peapod is likely a better choice by a little bit due to local regs.  less paperwork and insurance, which is less about the money and more about the grief.  and Gramps, I will 100% make sure to have a "contemplaition chair" space in the workspace.  I bet I will need it.  

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   If you build the Dory, after all that work, you're likely not going to want to try and car-top even once.  You could damage your car, but worse! you could damage your sweet Dory.  Not worth it.  Think trailer from the beginning.  I sail a Skerry, 2 inches shorter than the Dory and 5 lbs lighter; there's absolutely no way I'd ever car-top her.

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

I am with Jose Dean and Laszlo.

I am coming to the end of a Peapod build.  I have no idea how may hours it took - there have been longish perids with no work done on it (weather, other 'better' things to do - like going sailing).  That is going to be the same which ever kit you choose. 

I am about to start painting and expect to be on the water this spring having started 14 months ago.  A friend of mine has gone more quickly - he started a Peapod build a month or so after me and got on the water after 8-9 months.

Its been fairly straightforward build for a beginner - but like Michael says, factor in time for thinking about it and planning the next steps - especially if you have not got a lot of space.  

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   I ended up going with the Peapod.  I think I would be happy with either boat, but slightly less hassle about insurance etc once I have it built.  And it will take as long as it takes to build.  It arrives sometime late this month.  I will go shopping for one of those cheap Harbor Freight tent garage things as a temporary shelter as I build it.  crossing my fingers to maybe get her in the water before late fall, but we shall see.

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

We wish you all joy of your peapoding!  She sure is a mighty fine lookin' boat.

You going with the single stick rig or the yawl?  A split rig can be a mighty handy thing, especially in tight quarters.


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   I went with the single lug.  I like the look of it slightly better, it was cheaper, and I am more familiar with sailing with one sail.  But I gather if I really wanted to change I could re-do the tiller, and get approprate masts and sails, as all the mast steps are there no matter which model you buy.  I assume having two sails allows you to pivot your stern perhaps a bit more smartly than a single sail? 


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

Nice choice in a choice of no wrong decisions.  A year ago I went with the NED, over others.  I second the setiment on this forum about setting a schedule, don't do it.  Just enjoy the process.   Plus, life will through curve balls at you, which will put you "behind schedule", and that added stress will just take away from the enjoyment of building.  I started my NED in March and finished in Nov.  (still need to work the mast).     

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   Well, I took delivery of the Peapod this week, and I am quite pleased with the minimal packaging.  It's just cardboard sheathing around a bunch of parts, most (but not all) completely removed from the plywood they were cut from, and just held together with gobs and gobs of packing tape.  3 pretty thin boxes did it.  And it's 98% just recyclable cardboard, maybe 3-4 small bits of foam and some straps to hold it all together.  Very low waste, saves on shipping and, on waste on my end.  And it works, everything arrived with no damage. 
I think I will do things like daggerboard trunk, daggerboard etc inside as those bits are smaller while I wait for outside to warm up to epoxy friendly temps for the bigger bits like the hull.



RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

Hang onto the cardboard. It's great for protecting surfaces against epoxy, varnish, paint, etc. Also makes a good surface for cutting parts with a razor knife.

Enjoy your build and be sure to post the launch pictures here.


RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   The cardboard also makes a cheap disposable covering for a concrete garage floor - much easier to keep the dust down than with an untreated concrete surface.  And more forgiving on edges of plywood etc.

I would strongly support building as many the sub assemblies as you can before putting the hull together. 

I don't have much room so building the centreboard case, skeg, mast steps early made sense.  With hind sight I should have epoxied the floor boards and seats at the same time.  If I had bought the sailing kit with the basic kit I would have made the rudder and centreboard early too.





RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

  Unfortunately due to my less than ideal build facilities I don't have concrete floors t worry about.  I am using cut down sheet of plywood as main work surface for most build stuff.  I plan on using at least one piece of the cardboard for cutting templates out for the foam flotation later. 
and PaulSG, I am doing exactly as you advise, and building many sub assemblies first.  Mainly because I have a heated workspace that I can build smaller stuff, but will have to build hull outside, and it is not quite warm enough to pull that off yet.  Doing the centerboard trunk and rudder cassette are good things to imporve my confidence before I commit to the all imprtant hull.  So far, build seems very straightforward, and no surpises, except the pleasant surpise that the MAS epoxy does not stink like West Systems.  My wife might even let me expoxy the main hull board puzzle joints together in the house....

RE: Help! I can't decide between NE Dory or Peapod for first build

   Well,  I have just about completed the Peapod, and while I don't know the NE Dory any better, I am very glad I picked the Peapod.  It was a lot of work, and I made plenty of mistakes (most fixable) and my build space wass less than ideal but I was able to do some epoxy stuff in an interior space in cold spring, then heat strategic parts of the hull in a garage tent to keep moving forward until weather cooperated.  I hopes to be done late August early September, which I knew was ambitious, so I am happy being only 3-4 weeks behind schedule.  So much sanding! Also I suspect I used more epoxy than was strictly necessary based on having to order more, and finding final fittings often expecting things to be a tad thinner than they were on my boat.  Also, I think I will be trailering the boat rather than mooring it.  We shall see.  

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