Monday, 8 July 2013

Shellback dinghy 'Little Pet'

We were pleased to launch the Joel White Designed Shellback Dinghy for her new owners last month. Despite rainy weather, 'Little Pet' as she is now known performed admirably. The new owners say that for now she is their only yacht but they hope one day 'Little Pet' will be a tender for a larger yacht! Built of marine plywood with a layer of epoxy and fibreglass cloth on the bottom and garboard for protection when beached, she has sloatation under the stern and forward thwarts, two rowing positions and is trimmed in teak. Check out the video of her first sail here!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Building an Edwin Monk Skiff

Keith saws the end off a Nova Scotia white pine plank
Going through our bookcase at we found a book from my dad's library from 1946. The book is Small Boat Building by Edwin Monk, Naval Architect. As we had a few long pine planks left from Dory building we were looking for a skiff that we could build. The book has sixteen modern small boat designs, rowboats, sailboats, outboards, a 125.Class Hydroplane and a runabout...all modern in 1946! Mr Monk has a great writing style and explains at the very beginning that in his book 'No attempt has been made to cover such subjects as rules of the road, seamanship etc., and many other things sometimes included in a book of this sort. Some of these are useful, but can be found in other sources. The rules of the road for instance are contained in the Pilot Rules, two copies of which every motor-boat owner is required by law to have aboard and are supplied free by the government.' 
The start of the Edwin Monk designed Skiff

We decided on a 14'6" skiff. Mr Monk explains that 'The lowly skiff might well be called the universal boat' he goes on the explain that the skiff is much superior than.... 'the punt, a much inferior craft, almost useless in rough water'. This skiff according to Monk 'should make an ideal outboard boat'

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Big Pond Boat Shop appointed supplier of Dudley Dix Yacht Design's plywood kits

Big Pond Boat Shop has been appointed as a supplier of Dudley Dix Yacht Design Inc. plywood boat kits. The kits will be cut in Nova Scotia and shipped to to wherever needed. The shop will be available to supply kits for any of the range of plywood kits

The first kit on offer will be for the Paper Jet. This is a versatile training boat for juniors than can be progressively upgraded from a very simple and basic Lite version with free-standing una rig that is forgiving of errors, through a sloop version to a powerful high-performance Turbo version that can be very exciting and challenging to sail.

This is all done by exchanging rig components rather than replacing the boat, so is an economical route for upgrading. It has the added advantage that when there is too much wind for the big rig, it is quick and easy to depower down to a smaller rig to suit the conditions. That extends the use of the boat into a very wide range of conditions so that it spends more time on the water instead of lying on the shore waiting for the right breeze.

Rigs and layout of Paper Jet
All of the rigs shown above use the same mast up to the hounds and the same boom. Above the hounds two different topmast lengths allow changes in overall mast height to suit the mainsail that will be used, the topmasts sliding into a socket at the top of the lower mast. The una rig has the mast free-standing in the forward mast partners and the others have it stayed in the aft partners. I also intend to add a junior mainsail option, which will have a very short topmast and be more suited to smaller juniors.

For more info and photos go to
To see the full range of designs, go to .

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Finished & Launched Dorys

Completed Dory Buff Dory
Once the Dory is planked, and the cap rail is on, the seat riser is attached to the frames and the thwarts are placed. There are three thwarts however there is place for five. The thole pin hole are drilled, painting is completed and the dory is ready to row. These Dorys row best with 9'3"-9'6" oars. The traditional Dory colour is Dory Buff however they can be painted with other colours, We painted one Dory buff and the other a dark red with a cream interior.
Completed dark red Dory
Rowing the Dory is great fun and good excercise with two rowers and there are Dory Rowing Clubs in several communities around Nova Scotia. The Canadian Dory Racing Association in Lunenburg hold International Championship races against the Gloucester Mass., USA rowers for women's teams, men's teams mixed teams and juniors.

There are Dory Rowing Clubs in Shelburne and in Mahone Harbour.

Winter row

Members of the Mahone Harbour  Dory Rowing Club

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Planking the Dorys

The first plank installed on each side
The garboard plank determines the sheer of the Dory. On our Dorys we were able to have three subsequent planks of the same width to reach the topside height. Each plank is beveled with a plane to fit on the plank below. They are bent around the frames and are attached to each other with copper nails and roves with screws into the frames, the stem and the transom.
Once the second plank was on we were able to start removing the supports on the frames and to begin cleaning up the inside of the boat

The second plank installed on each side

As the third and final plank was installed we started to think about the oak for the gunwhale which supports the cap rail and gives the sheer its strength. Traditional Dorys have a steel strap that attaches each frame to the gunwhale. The oak gunwhale is screwed to the top plank.
gunwhale in place and steel straps on frames

Once the gunwhale was on it was time to fill the screw holes and start preparing the boat for painting. An oil based primer sealer was applied.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The beginning of two traditionally built Dorys

Grown Knees
 In the summer of 2012 we built two traditional Dorys. Dorys are measured by the length on their bottom and the ones we built are 15'. This means that they are approximately 20' in length. These were based on Gloucester Dorys with respect to the Lunenburg Dorys. We had some very basic plans of the 15' Lunenburg Dory and much more detail from John Gardner's Dory Book, of other Gloucester Dorys.
Getting wood from Heisler's Boatyard
We also had patterns from the The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic for the frames, the stem and the transom and the benefit of their finished Dorys for measurement. Materials used are grown knees, Nova Scotia white pine, Nova Scotia red oak, copper nails and roves and of course some paint. The grown knees were obtained in the springtime from the Hatt's in Gold River and we took the museum patterns with us to make sure they fit. The pine which had to be long enough and wide enough to plank the boat (pieces were over 20' long and 10" wide), came from Michael Kelley. Some of the wood he had cut and sawn himself and other lumber came from his boatyard; Clarence R. Heisler and Son Ltd., on Gifford Island.
Transom and knees are set up on planked bottom
The red oak, also supplied by Mike had to be big enough for the tombstone transom, the stem, the gunwhale and the cap rail.

The Dory is started by planking the bottom and setting the 'rocker' which is the convex curve on the bottom of the Dory, the bow and stern are higher than the center of the boat.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Shellback Completed

The Shellback is finished. Here are some pictures that we took before its owner picked it up, it is rigged for sailing and rowing.