Banks Dory Sailing Rig

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by AuxiliaryComms, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. AuxiliaryComms
    Joined: Jan 2008
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    AuxiliaryComms Master work in progress

    Hello all, I haven't been around for a while, but I've recently come into a volunteer opportunity that has dropped me into building and soon designing historic working boats.

    One boat I've always wanted to try for myself is the Banks Dory. I've always loved the lines, it just looks right for a small boat.

    There is something I don't understand about their design. I know they were primarily rowed, but I know that they could carry sail when needed. What I don't understand is how they would have carried sails.

    All the designs I have seen for sailing banks dories have a centre-board trunk for a dagger-board or swing keel. This doesn't make any sense to me because a centre-board trunk (and a mast partner) would make it impossible to stack the boats on deck.

    Does anyone know how these boats were rigged and what sort of sail plan they would traditionally carry?

    As a treat, here's my new obsession in the making.

    [​IMG]

    It's a 15' Sharpie we're building at the Watermen's Museum at Yorktown, VA.
     
  2. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    The examples I've seen here in maritime Canada are standing lug rigged - with mast and sprit both short enough to fit inside the dinghy. Dories aren't great upwind, but can move along on reaches. Sailing rigs on dories often used spare sweeps (oars) as mast & sprit, so they doubled as spares. Booms rarely were used on the loose-footed sails. Given an upwind destination, people just rowed.

    This is not a scientific study - just personal observation. Someone else may have other ideas. I traveled around Nova Scotia and New Brunswick a fair amount as a kid.

    --
    Bill
     
  3. AuxiliaryComms
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    AuxiliaryComms Master work in progress

    Thanks bill, that all makes a lot of sense.

    No centre-board that you've noticed then?
     
  4. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    I owned a banks style dory, one built in Newfoundland long ago. This was a sailing model, with centerboard trunk, 17 ft and with a five foot beam. Note the wider beam, Built for fishing, with built-in cages between thwarts for holding a lot of fish.
    The narrower rowing version (as far as I know) normally had no centerboard nor sail rig for that matter, unless modified to make a poor sailer, as the boat was far too tender to carry sail. The features that made it a good rough water rowing boat, the narrow beam and flaring sides, as well as the sharply raked ends that required the tiller to be so long that they opften used ropes to steer, all worked against making a good sailboat.
    Any models that traditionally sailed must have eityher been rowers modified to sail occasionally, or wider versions like the one I owned.
     
  5. AuxiliaryComms
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    AuxiliaryComms Master work in progress

    So then, it is more likely a case of different models for different purposes.

    There's so much information to be found about these boats but so little of it agrees on anything.

    I'll likely stick with a straightforward rower then.
     
  6. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    There are more developed types such as the Swampscott dory and the gunning dory, which were Americanized offsahoots designed for recreation, but the banks type was dead simple. They got their name, I guess, from their use fishing off Georgia's Bank. Their seaworthiness is somewhat legendary.
    You can contact the Mystic Seaport museum for assitance in finding a good example of the type, photos and a lines drawing.
    Phil Bolger in Gloucester, Mass. has plans as well. His Gloucester Gulll design is a continuation in the perfection of the banks type.
     
  7. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    The banks dory often carried a boomless sprit sail which was primarily for sailing down wind back to the mother ship once the dory was full of fish. Several attempts were made to put Chinese fan like folding center boards in them, so the trunk would be low enough for stacking, but they never caught on. Perhaps the added utility was not worth the added cost. Truth is most boats will make progress to windward without an appendage if handled right. I suppose a banks dory loaded down with fish is no exception.

    It may be a case of good vs good enough.
     
  8. Daniel Noyes
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    Daniel Noyes Junior Member

    Hi all
    here's how I have heard it explained, dories were dropped of by the schooner at intervals across the fishing ground, the first dory was the farthest up wind, dories set their trawls down wind while the schooner anchored down wind of the last dory, dorys rowed back upwind to the head of the trawl and began pulling it, when the trawl was back on board the dory now full of fish set a small sail or rowed down wind to the schooner.
    While working for Lowells Boat shop of Amesbury Ma. which has been in operation at the same location for over 200 yrs and was building 2000 Banks dories a year around 1900, the story was that the round sided swampscott type surf dory was actually the older boat, developed directly from the colonial erra plank keel Wherry, the Banks dory was a Industrial Revolution era adaptation to speed production and use wood more efficently.
    I have sailed a banks dory without a centerboard from Salisbury Ma. to Gloucester Ma. We carried 700 lbs of water ballast in 4 gallon containers. The dory would sail well at 70-75 degrees off the wind any closer and leeway was extreme.
    The only sails I have seen or heard of used on a working Banks dory are the leg-O-mutton or the sprit sail, other sail types have been used on along shore boats and daysailing conversions but the working boats seem to have been pretty standardized.
    Dan
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com
     
  9. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    dory sail rig

    I can more easily imagine a banks dory sporting a standing lug or a dipping lug as an alternative to a sprit sail than a leg'o'mutton. The leg'o'mutton would need too tall a mast to get adequate sail area.

    Just to make sure we are talking about the same rig, I see a leg'o'mutton as being a triangular sail, like a Bermudan, except that, instead of a boom under the sail, it has a sprit extending from a sling in front of the mast, along side the sail, that connects only to the aft corner of the sail. This sail was hugely popular during the second half of the 19th century and is re asserting itself as the most or second most popular sail today in the Puddle Duck Racer fleet (see www.pdracer.com). It seemed to be used on boats whose PRIMARY means of propulsion was sail.

    I don't see a banks dory man having much use for that rig, with its tall mast being difficult to stow and always being in the way, where a more square headed sail could have shorter spars and even have one of its oars double as one.
     
  10. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    Read about Captain Blackburn of Gloucester Massachusetts for a good salty whaling dory... story.
     
  11. Daniel Noyes
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    Daniel Noyes Junior Member

    yeah the Blackburn story is incredible, also he went on to sail the atlantic in a small boat and atempt the crossing in a dory.

    I have never heard of a American work boat type that used a lug sail, dory included. If you know of a historic type that used a lug I am interested to hear of it, I have been keeping an eye out and thinking back through books I have read but havent thought of an example of the Lug in common use in America.
    Sharpi
    I think you are thinking of a sprit boomed, loose footed leg-O-mutton sail like the Sharpie rig. for an example of a dory leg-O-mutton rig leaf through the pages of John Gardner dory book.
    I have seen a great photo of dorys on the banks under sail, there were sprit sails but most were Leg O, aprox dimensions were 12' mast, sail 10-11' on the hoist and 10-11' on the foot, I forget if they had a boom laced to the for or not.
    here is a photo of a racing Leg-O-mutton , stays jib and much taller than a working dory but the same shape
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dansdories/2918177723/in/set-72157608651860941/
    Dan
    http://dansdories.googlepages.com
     
  12. ancient kayaker
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    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    A lug sail would have a lower center of effort for a given area than a spritsail as well as shorter sticks so it might be the more logical rig to push a heavily loaded boat designed primarily for rowing rather than sailing.
     

  13. sharpii2
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    I guess we were talking about different rigs.

    wasn't the one you showed used on the Swamscot dory?

    The reason I believe the standing and dipping lug may have been used is that fishing communities were often made up of immigrants. And these immigrants were almost certain to have had experience with standing and dipping lugs, where Americans born here may have had little or none.

    I could be wrong and probably am wrong about that, but wouldn't be surprised if I turned out right. If I am, it was probably used very infrequently.

    Anyway. The only rig I heard of ever being used on a banks dory was a loose footed, square headed, sprit sail, with an oar used as the sprit that held the top aft corner of the sail out.

    The beauty of this set up is that, during a squall, The sprit could be removed, causing the upper aft corner to collapse. This would cut the usable sail area in half almost instantly while maintaining control. Only a gaff headed sail with a peek sheet could do that as well. And to a much lesser degree. Maybe this is why the square headed sprit sail was so popular on boats known for their tenderness, such as banks dories and narrow garvies.

    On a dipping lug or standing lug, the yard could be dropped, instantly killing the sail, or the sheet could be let fly. In the first case, the sail would come down almost instantly due to gravity itself.

    With any jib headed sail, letting the sheet fly would be the only option, because the sail, if it had a halyard at all, would have to be pulled down. And that would take too much time.

    Of the four sails mentioned, the utilitarian superiority of the square headed sprit seems quite obvious. Its only drawbacks being that the need for a sprit, that had to be man handled, limited its size, and, like any boom less sail, careful attention needed to be paid to its sheeting, just like a jib. On a dory, which was rowed most of the time, this would seem a small handicap.

    Some banks dories were used for along shore fishing. Maybe some of them had the rig you have just shown.

    As for Captain Blackburn.

    It is interesting to note that, after his famous separation from the mother ship incident, where he had to row himself and his dead dory mate (who froze to death during the ordeal) many miles to shore in freezing weather, he had no fingers. All of them had to be removed after that incident due to frost bite.

    All of his subsequent adventures were accomplished with no fingers. This would make him probably one of the first of a long line of handicapped sailors who accomplished great feats of seamanship.
     
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