Northeaster or Southwester Dory

I am getting closer to being alllowed to take over the basement and build a sailboat.  Potentially this winter.  I was all set on the Northeaster Dory until... I saw the Southwester.  The slightly larger size, seats, and option to add small motor fairly easily really aught my eye.  Plus, after sialing schooners over the years as a side gig I have a thing for multiple masts.

I need to accommodate myself, my wife and daughter (who is currently 6 years old).  Ideally I will be teaching the little one to sail in this boat.

I have not built a stitch and glue boat before.  I spent weekends one winter in a shipyard helping build a wooden schooner and picked up some decent skills there.  Overall I am pretty hand and comfortable with handtools and power tools.

Can anyone offer a compelling reason to not make my first solo build the Southwester and go with the Northeaster?


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RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory


The only reason to choose a particular boat over another is if it fits your needs better.   From what you said above, it sounds as if the SW does more of what you want than the NE.

As far as the building, the main difference is that the SW weighs 150 lbs more than the NE. That translates into 150 lbs more of wood you have to buy, put in place, finish and move around. The nearly 2 feet of extra length means that you'll need a larger shop to build it in than the NE.

If you have the shop space, the money and the time and patience to do a bit more work, building the SW is not really more difficult than building the NE, especially if you order the kit instead of the plans.

Have fun,



RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory




 Well I am biased because I have a NE Dory and love it.  I saw the SW Dory at the Wooden Boat Show and while it is a sweet boat, I think it's advantages are primarily in safety and capacity for beach campers and water tribers, not day sailers. Ask yourself the following before choosing:

- how do I feel about manhandling a 400-lb boat every time I go out instead of 150lbs?  If you are going to be launching off a trailer every time, it may not matter.  If you want to pull up on a beach, the larger boat is not very manageable   I can pull myNE dory up a beach on my own with a roller, but it's a  workout.  No way with the bigger boat.  The NE is plenty big for day sailing with 2 adults and a child.   I beach cruise in mine for a week with 2 adults.

- 2 sails has advantages, but will the bigger boat and more complex rig help the 6 year old to learn how to sail? The NE with the lug rig is an ideal boat for a kid to learn in, since the rig is so simple and the boat not so big.  

- how big is your workspace, and importantly the door to your workspace for when the boat is finished?

- is the motor worth the extra weights, expense, noise, hassle?  The NE can easily row at 3.5 knots.  Adding a motor to the SW will easily add 50lbs or more  


RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory


All good points.  My workspace is plenty big (unless the boss tells me I need to shrink it but I think I'm good).  The door leading outside is also plenty large.

I will be primarily trailer launching but I used to manhandle (solo) a 400 lb Hobie 18 around the beach.  I will have another person with me if beach launching now.

If I add a motor it will be an electric, most likely a Torqueedo so it will be relatively light.

The point about teaching my daughter to sail is very valid.  One big plus with the NE is the marconi rig option in addition to the balanced lug.  She can start on the lug and move to the marconi as she gets better.  I would like her to be familiar with a head sail so she can more easily transition to other boats.

The last point I need to consider is I will most likely only build one boat.  Will the NE fit the majority of my needs or will the SW be the one to keep the admiral happy in the long run?  Only I can answer this.

I have yet to sail or at least sit in either one.  Living in St. Louis complicates this process.  I need to get back to Annapolis and try them out.

RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory


RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

   "The last point I need to consider is I will most likely only build one boat. "

My initial reaction was snorfing my milk through my nose! I too, in younger days, said, "Why in the world would I build more than one boat?". The count is now three builds and 4 assists. The fourth build is under consideration. It's likely to be a Southwester, so there's that ;-p
Hope you have better self control than I my friend!

RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

The only reason I am limiting myself to one build is available time.  Trying to balance school, work, and family is tough.  Adding a build into the mix will be interesting.  I take the position it will help me relax and clear my head.  And, when I'm done I get to go sailing and build some great memories with my daughter.  She misses sailing on the Pearson 30 we owned and has been asking when we will get another boat for the past 2 years.

Ideally, I want to build the NE for my daughter and to bring on camping trips (put on top of pop-up) and build the SE for more comfortable family sailing.  Plus, if I build the NE first I can cut my teeth on stich and glue.

I think sailing them both will help me decide which one to go for.

RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

   If I were to fault John Harris it would be for making it so difficult to pick a project. In this case I would vote for the NE'r because you get from box to boating much sooner. Also, it would be a lot easier to handle for a young family and be more apt to be used on short notice. You can always build the SW'r when you aren't on the water.

RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

 I am new to the forum and just about ready to order my boat, the NE Dory.  I kept vacilating between the two models much like you and  decided the NE was the best project for my first build.  I live in Florida and boat year round and have seen too many people get bogged down tyring to either build or refurbish their 'ideal' boat but the project took so long that in the end they spent more time working and in many cases, simply gave up.  Do a search on BoatTrader and you are likely to always find a boat or two in various states of being built or refurbishment for sale.  Boaters tend to be inflicted with the 'bigger is better' bug and I was no differet.  But in the end I want to go sailing/rowing and the sooner the better.  Good luck and thanks for all the great info this forum provides.  

BTW my son and I plan to race the Northeaster in the 2017 Everglades Challenge, so i need to get my butt into gear!



RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

   So little time, so many boats...   I'm coming from the world of classic fiberglass keelboats, where so much time gets spent reparing or overhauling 30 year old systems on a 5 ton Tartan 30.  The basic hull and structure are sound for decades, but so much stuff on or in it needs looking after.  I'm between big boats now, so have time to make a little one from scratch.

I'm painting my Skerry now, so I'll be ready for spring on the chesapeake (although it would have been in the water if ready on Christmas it was so warm).  I chose the Skerry because it was the biggest CLC kit I could conceive of cartopping and easily moving about by myself.  Also, it was one I could imagine building fairly quickly though it has been 18 months since the start (many distractions...the actual hours aren't too bad).  I've had it out once with just the epoxy on it for a check of the rigging, hull, cartopping, etc.  Now it's back in the garage, stripped of hardware and being painted.

The NE dory is like the Skerry in that it doesn't have side bench seating which can make long sails more comfy.  The SW does have those, much more like what I'm used to on a big boat.  If you are going to sail with 2 people aboard, and will be trailering anyway, I'd consider the SW.  Yes, it's heavier, but once in the water, that won't make much difference once you learn the boat.  It will cope with wider ranges of weather and give you a longer cruising radius, even without a motor.

I'm not a skilled wood craftsman, but the quality of the CLC kits is such that I had less trouble with the skerry than I feared.  I had made one of their Sassafras canoes a long time ago and this went together easier.  Looking at the SW, there's a number of extra interior parts, but a lot of those will slot together and get glued up in groups. It will need more workspace, though.  I am glad I didn't try to shoehorn a bigger boat project into my garage space.

The big time sinks for me are the finishing steps.  I decided early on (after my first epoxy fillet goof up) that this would be a "working" finish, also known in some circles as a "10 foot finish" (ok, mine's more a 20' finish).  Stand back 10 feet and it looks great.  If I took that same route with a SW, I think I could get it together within the same year or so with only a bit more discipline on the project hours.  Painted finish inside and out, flattening the Brightsides to a semigloss, and only varnishing the rails and spars, will have me sailing my skerry months before a "piano finish" boat would float.  The outside, dark green, looks a lot better than I thought it would with my hamhanded epoxy work. The inside will be flattened Hatteras White and I think it will hide many of the other sins, all of an esthetic, not structural, nature.

RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

Hey Nick,

As a sailing instructor and more importantly a father, if I was going to take a youngster sailing and possibly cut her loose with it on her own, I'd go with the SWer because of the additional built in buoyancy.  They're both great boats in their own right and ones which might cause me to have a similar dilemma down the road.  However, I'm currently happy with my taking my wife and toddler out on Green Lake in my EP and building a TAPM.  Good luck, whichever you choose.  You can't go wrong with CLC.

RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory


Thank you for all of the advice.  Over the weekend I had a stroke of luck in my workspace making it much easier to build the larger boat.  For me it will all come down to at least sitting in each of the boats if not taking them for a shor test sail.  The plan was to do that a Okumefest in May, but that weekend has been taken up by family commitments.  I emailed CLC asking if I could rent the NE and SW dorys for a few hours the week before or after Easter when I will be in the Annapolis area.  We'll see how that goes.

I am strongly leaning towards the SW mostly due to the passenger space.  I would like to be able to take 4 people.

The last hurdle is to make sure the water damage we have in the house is due to the new windows we had installed last spring so I don't have to pay for the repair work.  At least we are not part of the flooding in te STL area.

RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

   Just reading through the post - I built the NE last year and sailed it this summer on the Chesapeake. Great boat. But smaller than it looks. I've seen the pictures of mom/dad/kids in the boat - sail up and dad rowing. It's just not that big. I found I could take one of my kids (7 yo at the time) OR my wife. 3 wouldn't have worked. And honestly 2 isn't roomy. its fine for a row - I've had 4 for that. But if you're sailing, it's a 2 person boat, IMO.

I've never said the SW, but I wouldn't recommend the NE if you plan to have 3 people most of the time.


RE: Northeaster or Southwester Dory

Hey nickmerc,

Whereabouts in STL are you?  I grew up there and am currently in Seattle with an Eastport Pram under my belt and about to dig into a Passagemaker Take-Apart.

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