Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?


   My plan is to build a Northeaster Dory either in class or at home using the kit.  I have two questions:

1.  I've noticed online that a lot of Northeaster Dory owners have outfitted their boats with a balanced lug sail instead of the traditional sail rig.  Has anyone sailed both?  I wonder what the performance differences are...I assume the lug rig is easier to single hand and maybe easier to furl if the wind dies...thoughts?

2.  If I were to use sign up for a class and complete a hull, about how much time does the finishing work take if I'm building the sailing version.  I have never built a boat but have a bit of experience working on boat maintenance for my sailing club and a tall ship I volunteer for.  

 Any wisdom or thoughts would be much appreciated!


9 replies:

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RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?


Don't know about the difference between the rigs, but the finishing takes exactly as much time as you want. If you're happy with workboat finish, then skip the sanding and fairing, slap on a coat of DIY store porchpaint, let it dry and go boating. If you're shooting for heirloom furniture quality, then plan on months of sanding, filling, fairing, priming, painting and varnishing. If you want something inbetween, it'll take some amount of time greater than a day, less than a few months.

Working neatly while building reduces the amount of prep work needed for a quality finish.

Have fun,



RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?

Hello Erik,

I can't speak for both rigs either, but I will say the Lug Rig seems to fit the dory very nicely. I've read where the Lug Rig is supposed to be 90-95% as efficient to windward as a marconi rig.

I built her with instruction at CLC's shop in Annapolis and finished her at home. I am a novice that worked on it every day the weather would allow and it took me about 2.5 months for a finish job that falls somewhere in the middle of Laszlo's workboat and heirloom quality. 

Have fun!



RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?

You might check out the Sliding Gunther rig.  That is the rig used on the Grand Banks fishing dories in the late 1800 and early 1900s.  Simular to a marconi but all spars will stow within the interior of the boat.  It, also is an easy rig to single hand and reef if necessary.   ~BRUCE~

RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?

I've read on some other sites that a sliding Gunter rig is a pain, isn't efficient and isn't practicle.  




RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?

Oh, one last question... rumor has it that the NE Dory marconi can't be lower under way.  True?  Can it be rowed?


Thanks again,


RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?

The standard Northeaster Dory comes with a jib-headed rig based on those seen in sailing dories from about 1875 to about 1925.  It's quick to assemble and set up on the beach;  to stow the main you fold the boom up to the mast and furl the sail.  

That's not going to work out on the water except in a flat calm.  You can order the "Sailing Component Upgrade Kit," which gives you sail track for the mast and a halyard, among other things, so you can set and stow the mainsail in the usual fashion under way.  The sloop rig is the fastest of all the Northeaster Dory sailing options, but you're pretty much going to decide to go sailing that day.

Rowing with the sloop rig set is okay for short distances---getting away from the beach, but "motor-sailing" isn't that rig's best modality.  

The optional balanced lug rig appeared almost from the start.  Some builders wanted a lug rig, so we made up drawings.  There was no kit for the lug rig option at first, but about a dozen of those got built from the drawings.  We are almost finished with a step-by-step set of instructions for the lug rig and presently there'll be a kit for it.  The nice thing about the lug rig is that it's easy to stow while under way, making more of a 50-50 rowing/sailing boat.  

Northeaster Dory

RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?

Thanks for your input John.  I am fitting seats and flotation on mine now and plan to be ready for roing soon and spring sailing. Having sailed for years with a standing lug rig on a SF Pelican, I think I would favor the marconi rig but I do want to be able to sail and row on the same outing.  A couple of questions; Would adding the sail track so you could drop the main change the "rowing okay for short distances"?  Is the balanced lug performance different from a standing lug?  I figure you have probably sailed both  setups on the dory and wonder how significant the performance difference is.

Thanks, Barry

RE: Dory Balanced Lug Rig or Traditional?

Thanks John,

My biggest concern is getting out in the Columbia and not having enough wind to get back.  Probably a newbie concern.  If you haven't been on the Columbia, it's big, it's deep and moves a lot of water downstream.  I don't really think it would be a likely event to run out of wind, if the dory handles light wind reasonably well but I rather not find out later rather than sooner.




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