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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Brother Sister Dory Story
Cruising on a dory named Cod
February 16, 2021

iblings don’t usually want too spend much time together. Not on a 23 foot open boat. In winter. During a pandemic.

Recently a bright yellow dory visited the town dock with a brother and sister aboard doing just that. Their names are Evan and Ariana Alexay. The dory’s name is Cod. “It’s not that I really wanted to spend time with her,” joked Evan about why he brought his sister on this adventure. “I needed her for the adventure.”

Ariana stands on the sea wall looking at Evan inside the Dory
Evan, Ariana and Cod
Evan smiles at the Camera. Ariana, wearing sunglasses, stands behind and to the right of him, no smile.
Evan and Ariana
The Dory Cod
Cod stands out from the usual white fiberglass cruisers. Her bow is sharp. Her stern resembles a tombstone. The swoop and curve of her narrow yellow hull resembles a banana on its back. She carries only a folding canvas cover for shelter. A set of oars pointing up over her transom hints at her work boat heritage. She is built of wood. “It’s kind of a radical boat to have in existence today,” says Evan.

Side view of the Dory <em>Cod</em> from the town dock. Ariana stands on the sea wall and Evan is busy moving gear in the boat.
Cod is painted in the traditional dory colors – yellow and green. She is 23 feet long.
close up view of the inside planking, painted yellow, and the edges of two life preservers, one red and one blue and black.
A look inside one of Cod‘s lockers shows off her traditional plank on frame construction…as well as some more contemporary equipment like life jackets.

But dories like Cod weren’t always considered unusual. During the age of working sailboats, dories were the go-to fishing boats for the North Atlantic fishing fleet. They were purpose built for the trade. Cod, minus the outboard, is a classic representation of the breed.

A dory typically has straight sides and a flat bottom. The hulls are often planked lapstrake-style, where the top of each plank overlaps the one below it. They are often built of inexpensive soft wood like white pine. This made them quick and inexpensive to build.

a line drawing of a similar, but smaller, dory
The lines of a 17-foot Newfoundland dory similar to Cod. This one also features an engine well. (Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador photo )

Another advantage to this pared down construction is that it allows the hulls to be stacked. A whole fleet of dories, nestled one inside the other like a stack of bowls, could be carried on the deck of a schooner to the fishing grounds. Once there, they were deployed with one or more fisherman in each. The fishermen would jig for cod and other bottom fish, returning later to the schooner to unload their catch.

Dories are incredibly seaworthy. In 1883, a winter storm swept dory fisherman Howard Blackburn away to sea. He froze off all the fingers on both his hands. His dory mate died. But eventually Blackburn made it back to shore, a hero. That only added to the dory’s fame.

But that’s not the kind of adventure Evan had in mind. Evan says, “I was looking for a boat to go down to Florida with,” he says. Something not too large. Preferably wood. The essence of what he was looking for was, “a tent that I could motor around the water.”

Catching Cod
Evan bought Cod last October in New Hampshire from the dory’s second owner. He found her online. She’d been built in 1999 at the Dory Shop in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

a blue patina covered plaque held to the boat with four rust colored screws in the corners.
Cod‘s weathered boat builder’s plaque. Under the patina it reads “The DORY SHOP / LUNENBURG, N.S. / CANADA / #3812

The original owner had her built with some features not found on a traditional dory. For example, Cod was outfitted with a removable canvas cover that shelters the front of the bow.

Evan stands in the boat, in front of a canvas cover fastened to the boat over an a-frame.
Cod‘s canvas cover in place.
Ariana sits beneath the empty A-frame as Evan stows the canvas in an orange wet bag.
Ariana and Evan dismantling the cover before heading out. The canvas stows in bags. Evan says it takes about 10 minutes to take the cover apart.

Cod’s original owner fitted her with a 10hp outboard that lives in a well. Though that makes long distance travel easier, it makes rowing harder. Evan says the drag of the outboard unit projecting below the hulls makes Cod row, “very slowly. It’s definitely hard work.” As a result, most of the time Cod’s propulsion is that outboard motor.

The top of a Yamaha 9.9 hp engine sticks out of the engine well.
Cod‘s engine. Evan says he like the outboard because, unlike an inboard engine that can only be service in place, the outboard can be easily removed if it needs to be worked on.

Before Evan bought her, the previous owner had used her on the Maine Island Trail, the 375 mile water trail that runs from the New Hampshire border to Canada.

To Bath and Beyond
It was October 2020. Evan had a boat. But he didn’t have crew. He asked his sister Ariana if she’d join him on his trip. She says, “I thought it was cool that we were going to go out on the open ocean. But then I realized we weren’t actually going in the open ocean.” As it turned out, the first part of their voyage wouldn’t even be on the water. With winter rapidly approaching, Cod was trailered from their home in upstate New Jersey to warmer Bath, NC, where she was launched.

The next step, from Bath to Oriental via the Pamlico Sound, actually was a bit like going out on the open ocean. The Pamlico Sound is long and shallow, over 50 miles long and less than 20 feet deep in most places. Evan knew he needed to be careful. “There’s a huge fetch. The wind can blow for miles.” he says. “A family friend warned us about picking the days of crossing.”

Evan picked the right days. The weather cooperated. Cod enjoyed a good run from Bath to Oriental.

The bow of <em>Cod</em> reflects in the water.
Cod showing off her lapstrake construction in the Oriental harbor.
Evan stands in <em>Cod</em>, talking with locals at the rail.
Evan says folks have been very generous in Oriental, offering everything from biscuits to tips in southern-ese. Pecan, the crew learned, is pronounced “pee con”.
Traveling as Siblings
Traveling as siblings on such a small boat brings its own set of challenges. One is explaining that you’re not a couple. Evan says cruising is, “kind of a couples thing to do.” Ariana agrees. “A lot of people think otherwise, that we’re not siblings.” So there’s that to clear up. They say they have to do that a lot.

Another thing is the matter of accommodations. While the canvas enclosure may have been enough for the first owner, Evan and Ariana optimized it to suit their needs. To allow both of them to sleep under the tent, a low sleeping platform was added just aft of the bow. This makes for snug quarters. “Once you’re in, you’re in,” says Evan. “You either stay in or get out.” Evan sleeps on the platform. Ariana sleeps on the sole. Not that the arrangement is without friction. “If you want to get a recording of us fighting for space later tonight,” Evan says, “You probably could.”

Inside <em>Cod</em>, Ariana peeks out from the lower bunk. On the top bunk, Evan's head rests in his hand as he looks toward the stern.
Evan says, “I get the top bunk.” Which has its disadvantages, especially in winter. “I get colder”.

But the biggest challenge may be the matter of education. Evan graduated from Whitman College in Washington state last May with a degree in economics and psychology. But Ariana is still studying. She is a senior in high school. When the pandemic hit, her classes went online. Instead of going to virtual classes for the year, she decided to just study for her GED and SAT aboard Cod.

After Oriental
From Oriental, Evan plans to head toward Florida. “It’ll probably take us a month or two. Just doing short hops when the weather’s good.”

The stern of <em>Cod</em> faces the camera as the dory leaves the dock, motoring between the large fishing trawlers.
Heading out.

Cod shows us that in a pandemic, with short money and winter coming on, sometimes all a dream needs to happen is a little yellow boat. That and some help from your younger sister.

Story by Bernie Harberts. Photos by Keith Smith.

Posted Tuesday February 16, 2021 by Allison DeWeese

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