NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

I've twice rowed (sliding-seat-dory) from Seattle to Prince Rupert (the Inside Passage), beach camping each night.  I'm tired of humping the dory up/down the beach each night/morning.  Next trip I hope to just anchor and sleep aboard.  Has anyone modified the NE Dory with decking and installed sleeping quarters?  Other ideas?  Would love to see photos?

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RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

Hello Lew

I'm the owner of a professional non-profit website dedicated to "Travelling without fuels". Just now we are working on the creation of the english part of it (it's available in german only today). You can see an example of a journey report (still in German) here

The site also contains information to activities, means of transportation and equipment.

We are interested in journey reports and other information to this from all around the globe.

Do you or anybody else have any interest in publishing fots and stories about your journeys on it? Please let me know with an e-mail to

Happy rowing

Ruedi from Switzerland

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

Hi Llew,

I am currently working on configuring my NE Dory for sleeping aboard. I've entered Watertribe's Everglades Challange (March 3, 2012 - Tampa Bay to Key Largo - 300 miles) and would like that option. I have a few ideas, but haven't settled on one yet. I have a local boat canvas guy working on a few things, including a boom tent and supported Sunbrella decking from the bow back to the mast partner (my Dory is Lug Rigged). I'll keep you posted and send pics when complete.

Sounds like your dory is rowing only, but you might get some ideas.


RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??


I've found this one some days ago. Could be of interest, and could deliver some ideas how to make what you want.

Angus will sell plans from his "camper row boat", too. At least some day, I hope :-)) ... When clicking the big image beisdes the title "Rowing Yacht" you can see a slide show of the boat.

Happy rowing


RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

Llew, I have added some splash decking, about 3.5 inches, along the sides. The advantage, besides keeping wavetops out of the bilge, is that you get many more places to fasten "things", possibly like a collapsable storm top or foldup sleeping platform across the thwarts.

The hanging knees and inside rail secure a 3.5 inch plywood splash guard running the length of each side.

I am fitting the oarlocks into the cover now; will have a photo of that in a few days.

Think mosquito netting! Between greenhead flies that prey of pelican chicks, gnats and mosquitoes, restful sleep means netting.



RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

I've gotten emails from builders contemplating serious beach-cruising in the Northeaster Dory, which I endorse with vigor.  I'm one of the few people I know who have cruised in rowing boats, including sleeping aboard.  This was one of my teenaged experiments in cruising under oars:

It was open down the center, with a folding seat instead of a thwart, so you could sleep on the floor.  It worked very well and I'm told the boat is still going strong 25+ years later.  (Sharp eyes will note that it is a lightly modified Bolger "Teal".)  Sleeping aboard was necessary because almost all shoreline on the Chesapeake is privately owned and beach cruising as on the Maine Island Trail is very difficult.  (Finally they are doing something about it.)

The Chester Yawl design, with the same rowing stool to keep the floor clear for sleeping, built on the early experiments in a rowing cruiser.  At least a few builders have used the Chester Yawl that way, though it seems like most would prefer to knock their shins on thwarts.

There is no reason the Northeaster Dory couldn't be modified to eliminate the thwarts so that there was a sleeping area amidships.  (This wouldn't work well with a sailing version, sorry.)  I would take to such a boat in a heartbeat for extended cruising.

Some of the correspondents sent sketches with cuddy cabins added to the Northeaster Dory so the crew could close a hatch at night.  I appreciate the impulse;  tenting options are lighter and more practical but you still end up with a wet sleeping bag oftentimes. But they used these things as inspiration:

It's hard to overstate how perfectly ghastly those boats are for anything but running downwind in the trades at sea.  I know a guy who crossed the Atlantic in one and his description suggested all the torments of Hell.  For coastal cruising of any duration it's a full-stop dead-end.

I got as far as drawing up a dedicated "coastal endurance rowing boat" for one correspondent.  A Northeaster Dory with a cuddy just has too much windage thanks to decking and coach roof;  you could never function in a strong head- or crosswind.  This sketch shows how far you have to go in streamlining a rowing boat so that you have a roof over your head at night but still make good speed in all conditions.  Great effort went into balancing the wind loads so that good control is maintained on all "points of sail."  (Pragmatically, a kayak-style downwind sailing rig is provided.)  And you can close up the hatch and wait out a rainstorm at anchor.  


At cruising speeds. an oarsman might generate 1/25th of a horsepower, so efficiency is absolutely paramount!

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

John Harris, is that last post yours? There's no signature and the message system lost the login, but it sure looks like a John post.



RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

Odd.  Seems like when I'm logged in as an Admin (rather than as a human) it drops my handle.  Ghosts in the machine.

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

John, thanks for confirming.  If ever someone else joins this forum who could have written that post, your signature will be from that moment forward essential.

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

   Reviving this thread. Thinking removable decking for rear half of boat over the seats with a simple tarp hooked to the mast and proped up with a boat hook at the  back and a bivuac to be used seperatly or together. Any thought on how to go about the decking?I'll want to take them up and stow while underway.what would be a good material? Strong ,lightweight, possibly snaps together

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

   I think one could make a comfortable canvas cot for the NE Dory. With the aft thwart removed, the rails of the cot could be fashioned to slip over the hanger bolts in the center of the cot to provide support. The foot of the cot would rest on the stern seat and the head on the center thwart. It would all be covered, as you suggest, by a tarp-tent draped over a line from the mast to the gudgeons. With a bit of craftsmanship the tarp could be fashioned to snug up along the underside of the rails. Roomy and cozy with protection from all but the worst of storms.

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

   Considered something similar but I'm in florida and what I really need shelter from is the mosquitos and gnats ,that's where the bivuac comes in and that won't work well with a cot

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

This was commissioned by someone who wanted to do an extended coastal expedition in a Northeaster Dory in European waters:

Row Cruiser

I like it better than some concepts I've seen, and it has de minimis sleeping accommodations.  There was a requirement (not insensible) that the boat be self-righting, and this is what you end up with if you try to make a Northeaster Dory self-righting.  That said, it would be no fun to try to make progress upwind in something with this much freeboard.

It was never built, the client apparently not understanding that commissioning a custom design costs more than a $100 set of stock plans.

Years ago I did a study for another endurance rower contemplating a coastal and riverine expedition, and it's still my favorite.  Light, reasonably fast on all points, comfortable interior, good protection from the elements.  It too awaits a commission for working drawings.

Row Cruiser Design

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

Alternative to decked sleep-aboard dory:

Pointy at both ends? Check.

Lapstitch? Check.

Sliding seat rowing? Check.

Comfy bed? Check.

Sails? Check

Also has sails, self-draining cockpit, water ballast, loads of storage and cut-down windage for rowing. It also looks better (OK to say so since John designed it). Best of all, it already exists and is for sale at CLC.


RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

   Love it but alas  I don't have the space, I can just fit the dory in my garage and even that requires an elaborate hoist and trolley system (3 kayaks a dory ,a trailer, my wifes car and all the usual garagy stuff in a one car garage)

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

Yeah, that totally superfluous wife's car thing. I've got exactly the same problem - 2 kayaks, a sailing dinghy, a schooner on a trailer and the wife's car. Doesn't she realize that it's a boathouse and shop, not a garage? :-)

Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together.


RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

   Just wanted to add this link, which took me a while to find, for those of us searching for sleep-aboard options on the NE Dory:

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

   I've used my pvc cot several times now and am very satisfied with it. About the only change I've made since posting those pictures is to fill the pieces of pvc with foam so that they will float in case dropped overboard. I've toyed with sewing a waterproof and bug-proof tent but that's more trouble than it's worth for a fair-weather camper like me.

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

What would you think about a bivy sack? Not enough room for it?

A bivy sack wouldn't prevent the boat from filling with rainwater, but one could just bail in the morning, no?

RE: NE Dory with decking and sleeping quarters??

   I don't have any direct experience with bivy sacks, but I dn't see any obvious reason why it wouldn't work. Rainwater in the boat is not an issue because one sleeps on top of the thwarts.  One could stretch out in a bivy sack and ride out virtually any storm.

As a fair-weather camper, my main need is protection from the dew. A bivy sack would work and so would a nice, big sheet of  plastic. (So far, I have just put up with having a damp sleeping bag in the morning.)

It would be easy to make a frame for a tent shelter by bending fiberglass tent poles in an arch across the oarlock sockets, but it might be a challenge to keep that "roof" on in windy conditions. Good for a calm night, though.

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