Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

Any comments on whether to go with a NE Dory or Skerry as a first boat?

I like aspects of both.



9 replies:

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RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

Hi John,

It really depends on a lot of factors that are specific to each builder/owner.  Here are a few things for you to consider...

  • Space for building, the dory is 17' long as compared with 15' for the skerry.  Both have the same beam of 56".  You should have at least 3' additional at both ends of the boat, unless you don't mind moving it back and forth as you work on it.
  • The dory has considerably more weight capacity at 800# Vs 450# for the skerry.
  • I suspect that the dory would be faster, both with rowing and sailing.  I don't know what the designed waterline length is for either, but I'm guessing that the dory is about 2' longer at the waterline and probably more narrow given the same crew weight.  The dory sail area is 68 sq. ft. compared with 56 sq ft. for the skery.
  • The skerry will likely be a bit faster to build with one less plank on either side.

 I hope this helps a little.  Perhaps someone who has built both will come along with some first-hand experience.  Also, you can contact CLC Customer Service to get answers directly from the clc prototype builders, and even John Harris, who designed both boats.

Ron Paro

RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

Any advice on which would make a better choice for camp cruising, and/or general day trips where the weather might get up to small craft advisory level?

RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

John, In my novice opinion, a lot has to do with your skill level with woodworking in general, experience with epoxy and glass, and space to build, as noted by Ron above.  My first and only boat to this point is the Skerry, which my wife and I built on a vacation in Newport, RI under John Harris instruction at IYRS last summer.  We have light woodworking skills, but I say up front, we couldn't have built the Skerry in our garage from the kit without on hands help and instruction.  We have a beautiful boat today (still not finished, but close; the finishing work takes a lot of time for a novice)  The Northeast Dory looks to be a terrific boat especially because of the 800 pound or so payload.  But again, as a novice, I wouldn't think about this kit as a first project unless I did it under experienced instruction and hands on help.  That said, if you have experience with wood and epoxy, you might be able to handle the Dory, but the Skerry is in my opinion an easier build from what I've seen in the shop pics of the Dory construction.  Don't get me wrong, it looks like a great boat and I might even consider it as a second build, but the Skerry is a wonderful first project for a novice boatbuilder.  The seats on the Dory seem more complicated than the Skerry, the extra panels and the transom (if that's the correct term) at the rear add complications to construction for a beginner.  The Skerry is a straightforward build for a beginner, whether under instruction or in the garage if you have the inclination for that.  I chose the Skerry because I live near the Delaware Bay and around lots of ponds and lakes and I want to also use it for light sailing, rowing and fishing.  Want to sail a bit in the  Bay.  It's perfect for what I want.  My only wish is that the Skerry had a little more payload.  Hope this helps.  Best,  Bob H.

RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?


Here's my $.02 worth. I built the BETA version of the Dory for John and it was probably the easiest boat I've ever built. (The list includes a CH 17LT, CH 18, 2 San O Paddleboards, WR 18, Sea Island Sport and Matunuk surf kayak.) John designed the Dory with first time builders in mind. I didn't need a tape measure till I got to the rails! The panels are self-aligning using puzzle joint, the holes are predrilled, the frames are even keyed to the bottom so you can't put them in the wrong place. After gluing up all the panels it took only a few hours to wire them up to a dory shape. The rabbets are already cut and there are no gains to cut as in the Skerry. The transom is no problem to put in either. I did the whole boat by myself but an extra pair of hands would be nice at times. Start to finish I have 175 or so hours in it. That included doing a few extras like putting a stem in the bow, detailing the thwarts, daggerboard, rudder, etc. with veneers. I also had to determine the shape of the thwarts but there will be patterns in the kits (I think and that'll be a time saver). I also made the spars from scratch which added a bit of time. My shop is 12x24 but with all the tools and workbench the working space is around 9x20. Yup, the Dory filled the shop but was very doable.

As far as handling is concerned, I have rowed and sailed both boats. On rowing, and you have to understand I hate rowing, the Skerry was a bit easier for me to handle. People who actually like rowing say the Dory is great. Sailing both boats is a blast but the Skerry is an easier boat to single hand sail as you have only the main sheet and tiller. The Dory adds the jib sheet. I put two cam cleats in mine so I can take it out alone at times. And the Dory needs a couple of warm bodies in it on a windy day as it's only 120 lbs. or so fully rigged and has a good deal of sail area for a boat that light. I had the Dory out last Saturday in 20 knot wind with 1' chop and it was a lot of boat for one person to handle. Again doable but you better have some experience in small craft.

Hard to say which would be the better day sailer, depends on how much gear you want to take along. I don't think you could take enough stuff for a day trip to come close to the max payload of the Dory! I guess if you threw in the generator and fridge you could do it.

Bottom line, either boat would be a great first boat. I'll be building the Skerry myself someday! Hope this helps.

George K

RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

I have heard the Skerry is hard on the knees, if you have any height, without the drop in rowing unit.  Also, I am not an accomplished sailor.  Just learning.  Is the Skerry really that much more difficult to sail than the Dory?



RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

"I have heard the Skerry is hard on the knees, if you have any height, without the drop in rowing unit."

I think that it's actually the Annapolis Wherry which would be affected by this....(given that CLC recommends the row wing for wherry rowers over 5'4"). 

I'm 5'4".... but I have taller friends who have easily rowed my skerry. The skerry rows very well.  I haven't had an opportunity to row the dory, but I imagine that it would also row well.

You really wouldn't go wrong with either boat..... here are some other considerations that might influence your decision:  are you going to be solo? or with crew?, and how much boat do you want to be handling off the water? Think about where you're going to store it and how you're going to transport it....and, depending on what state you live in, you might need to register the dory but not the skerry --for instance, in Washington, sailboats over 16 feet need to be registered, but boats under 16 feet don't, unless they have a motor....

Julie K.


RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

"I have heard the Skerry is hard on the knees, if you have any height, without the drop in rowing unit."


I've never heard that.  The Skerry's got loads of room and with 8-foot oars the proportions for rowing are fine for anyone under 7 feet tall.  Our guess is that only about 5% of the builders install the footbraces shown in the plans, so shorter rowers might not be able to reach the aft bulkhead to brace properly. 

We had to make the Dory's aft seat removeable to allow anyone over about 6'2" to row solo from the middle seat for long distances.  Seat lifts in and out in about 15 seconds.  A small compromise to give the boat good geometry for tandem rowing.  

RE: Skerry or Northeastern Dory?

Another ergonomic factor to keep in mind is that the Skerry's boom is higher up than the Dory's. I've sailed/sailed in both and one definitely needs to be more aware of the boom in the Dory. I'd say that the Skerry is definitely easier to sail at first, but once you get the hang of ducking the boom and working the jib, the Dory has more performance potential. Both are great boats.


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