In his classic The Dory Book, John Gardner wrote, “The handsomest of all pulling dories is unquestionably the long, slim, but richly curving double-ender that originally came out of the Orne Street boat shop of William Henry Chamberlain of Marblehead.” Designed to take one or two hunters, or a hunter and his dog, to the offshore islands and marshes along the New England coast, the gunning dory had to be reasonably fast under oars, and capable of handling the sort of blustery fall weather that a duck hunter might encounter.

Photographs by Matthew Norman

The parallel sides of the deck opening allow the slip thwarts to be placed wherever they're needed for rowing.

My home waters of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, are halfway up the west coast of Lake Michigan. Within minutes of launching, you’re outside of the Sheboygan breakwaters, and out in the waves and winds fetching up from the shores of Chicago, 150 miles to the south. It can really rock out there; the sailors love it. I wanted a boat capable of being rowed by one or two, offshore, in any sort of reasonable weather. Having grown up on the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, and having worked in the Merchant Marine on the Great Lakes as a young man, I’m very aware of the power of the water. Seaworthiness was at the top of my list of requirements. And, well, the boat had to be beautiful.

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