Going to Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts, is like going to a dory candy store. Do you pick a straightforward rowing dory like the Salisbury Point Skiff, developed in the 1860s? How about the outboard-motor-powered version of the Amesbury Skiff, an adaptation from the 1920s? What about a high-sided Banks Dory, set up for traditional tholepin rowing? Having but one choice to make, I selected what I thought for me, and I suspect for many others, would be a fine compromise: a Sailing Surf Dory.

Sailing Surf DoryCorinne Ricciardi

A comparatively round-sided dory, the Sailing Surf Dory handles well under sail or oars. This boat is a 14-footer, and Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts, also builds 16’, 18’, and 20’ versions.

For many dories, the words “sailing” and “rowing” don’t comfortably sit side by side. If performance sailing is of paramount importance and you break out the oars only grudgingly, look elsewhere. If keeping up with the collegiate rowing teams along the Charles River in Boston is your ambition, don’t even think about a boat that has anything like the word “sail” in its vocabulary. All boats are compromises, and the only question is whether the compromise works well or works poorly for its intended function in the hands of its owner.

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