J.B.'s Boatyard: Sport Dory

a 15' stitch and tape Fast Rowboat designed by Jim Michalak 

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This boat was designed to be an "improved" version of Phil Bolger's popular Light Dory. It is slightly shorter and lower to reduce windage and make for easier cartopping. Unlike the Light Dory, it is designed for taped seam construction so it does not require a substantial building jig which makes the amateur builder's job a bit easier. 

My boat was a prototype for this design. There was another guy out west who was building one at the same time as I was, but I never found out for sure if he beat me to the water. I suspect he did, though. First or second is of no great consequence, it is still a great little boat. 

The boat goes together very quickly despite the 9 months that elapsed before I got mine on the water. Working continuously, it could conceivably be completed in month's worth of part-time work. It would be a very good first project. 

I've written Jim a number of times praising this boat's qualities. She goes fast with very little effort, and really fast with only a little more. I've timed her at 4.5 mph over 1.4 miles with a head/cross wind and not that much sweat on my part. She easily covers 7-8 miles in 2.5 hours leaving lots of time for enjoying the scenery. 

Jim has a great website which you may visit by clicking here. You may purchase SportDory plans online at Duckworks Magazine.

Construction Photos...

...of the stitched up hull, prior to taping the inner seams. You can see the cable ties used to stitch the seams fairly clearly. Also note the terrible looking scrap lumber used to build the temporary forms.

And, no, I'm not building it outside! I just took it out to be able to get better pictures.

Building Log

April 21, 1998 - Purchased lumber: 3 sheets BC pine plywood ($16/sheet), a couple of lengths of 1"x2" and 1"x4"SPF lumber for the butt blocks and gunwales (approx $15). I had previously purchased epoxy , 9 oz. biaxial fiberglass tape, and 6 oz. cloth from RAKA for about $170. This includes three gallons of epoxy which is WAY more than this boat needs. The reason for the large purchase is for future projects involving my Windsprint and some antique furniture repair. The four forms were nailed together from some old pressure treated 1x4's that I had laying around the house. I ripped two of the sheets of plywood in half lengthwise and butted them together to make two panels 2'wide by 16' long. The shapes of the topsides were laid out on one of the panels by marking the the points shown in the plans and connecting the dots with a long flexible wooden batten to make fair curves. The dimensions were pretty accurate, only on one or two points were they off an 1/8" or so. Before closing up shop for the night, I ripped a 39 degree bevel on one edge ofthe gunwale stock on my borrowed tablesaw.

April 22, 1998 - Cut out the starboard topside panel with a jigsaw. The cuts were made just outside the lines and the final trimming to the line was done with a low angle block plane. The completed panel was traced to make a mirror image for the port side panel, cut and trimmed in much the same manner. I clamped the two panels together to true up the edges to make sure the panels were identical. WHile the panels were clamped together, holes for stitching were drilled along the stem and a chine edges. The transom was cut freehand with a circular saw from a piece 3/4" thick pine board left over from another project. The topsides were then bent around the forms starting at the center moving towards the ends, temporarily fastened with screws. The stem was stitched together with some nylon cable ties. The transom was fastened with epoxy and screws.

April 23, 1998 - Ripped the plywood for the bottom diagonally, butted the two halves together, and laid out the shape in the same manner as the topsides. Turned over the the hull and placed the bottom panel in place. Holes for the stitching were drilled to match the holes drilled on the chine edge of the topsides. The bottom was then stitched to the rest of the hull with more cable ties. To fillet the inside seams, I mixed up some epoxy mixed with some WEST 207 lightweight filler and WEST 206 colloidal silica I had left over from the Windsprint. Immediately after laying the fillets, I taped the still wet seams with a single layer of 3" wide 9oz. biaxial fiberglass tape. When the fillets firmed up after about an hour, the tape was filled with more unthickened resin. The inner stem was taped with two layers of tape, a 3" wide strip followed by a 6" width.

April 24, 1998 - Installed the first lamination of the gunwales port and starboard with epoxy and screws. Total work time up to this point is about 18-20 hours.

June, 1998 - Installed second lamination of gunwales.

July-September, 1998 - Installed temporary thwarts and removed the molds. Filleted and taped in the gaps where the molds were. Cut the stitching off flush to the hull with an utility knife and filled outer seams and other imperfections with epoxy and microballoons. Lots and lots of sanding to fair the hull. Coated the entire boat inside and out with a coat of unthickened epoxy. Sanded everything again.

October 25, 1998 - Glassed the entire outside surface of the hull with 6oz cloth and epoxy. Got one filler coat on before knocking off for the week. Ordered oars, leathers, locks, and sockets. Getting closer!

November 22, 1998 - Installed oarlock sockets in gunwales.Put leathers on new oars. Ready to sea trial, possibly over the Thanksgiving holiday.

November 28, 1998 - First time in the water: Fast and fun. A really nice little boat!

October, 1999 - Finally painted the boat with my signature teal topsides and off white interior using Red Devil oil-based enamel.

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