maritime museum Archives - Small Boats Magazine

Electric Fantail Launch DORA Available for Charter at The Center for Wooden Boats

Nora at Center for Wooden Boats' dock. White, sleek boat.

DORA, a beloved fantail launch at Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, Washington, is now available for charters.

Solar panels at CWB make a ride on NORA carbon neutral

DORA gets her batteries charged by solar panels on the roof of CWB’s new Wagner Education Center. The panels produce enough energy meet CWB’s needs and provide a net credit from the city’s electric power utility.

In the late 1880s, refinements in the steam engine, as well as new technologies such as naptha, gasoline, and electric motors resulted in the creation of a new type of watercraft: the small power boat. Pleasure fantail launches of the late 19th century inspired Oregon Naval Architect Pat Spurlock to design DORA, the electric launch at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats (CWB). She’s powered by an electric motor and control system produced by Elco, the descendant of the Electric Launch Company of Bayonne, New Jersey, which was founded in 1893 to produce electric launches powered by early dry-cell batteries. As small gas engines became more reliable, interest in electric boats faded, the company changed its name to Elco and switched to producing gas-powered launches and cruisers until the late 1940s. In the 1970s Elco was resurrected to produce electric launches and drive systems.

DORA was built by the students in the Maritime Carpentry Program at Seattle Central Community College. Wood and other materials were donated by Bob and Erica Pickett (once owners of Flounder Bay Boat Lumber in Anacortes, WA), Bob Duggan, and his nephew Mike Foley. The boat is named after Dora Duggan, Bob’s mother.

white motor launch on lake union with four passengers

DORA’s quiet electric motor and low freeboard make for a quiet, close-to-the-water experience conducive to enjoying the urban beauty of Lake Union.

A recent installation of AGM (absorbent glass mat) deep-cycle batteries and a new 48-volt system, DORA now has more power and tops out at 6 knots instead of 4, charges twice as fast, and can operate up to 40% longer.

Operating between mid-June and mid-September, DORA takes up to six passengers for charters with a USCG-licensed captain at the helm. More information is available at the Center for Wooden Boats.

Sip & Scratch at Buffalo Maritime Center Foundry

On Saturday, May 11th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., join the Buffalo Maritime Center Foundry for an evening of making, drinking, and fun! Participate in an aluminum casting event while creating your own low-relief sculpture. Participants will be provided with instructions on what to do, tools to scratch, and what is called a scratch block mold.

Scratch block molds are a resin bonded sand mold with a blank “face”. They are sort of like a blank canvas, but for hot metal! Every participant of this event will be given their own scratch block, shown how to create an interesting image on it, given examples on what a successful sculpture created in this method looks like, and be allowed to sip on beer and wine in the process!

Once completed with your scratch block you will be able to see it poured with hot metal right before your eyes. The castings will then be cooled and ready to take home that night!

ONLY 35 TICKETS AVAILABLE! Register now – seats fill up fast! For more info, email us at

Sights from the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival XXXIV

by Anne Bryant

After a full, nutty day at the Annapolis Sailboat Show, I headed over to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, Maryland, for the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival. I pulled into the entrance, lined with a tent city full of small boat enthusiasts; I felt right away that compared with the bustle of Annapolis, the change of energy suited my needs.

Here are some photos from my visit there. It was Sunday, the day after the big race and regatta, and so things were packing up, slowing down, and moving on due to a lightly threatening forecast.

Our Fearless Editor, Chris Cunningham, has traveled to this gathering in the past, and we plan to re-establish our connection with this fantastic gathering in 2018. A workshop? A beer social? We’re not sure yet, but get excited.



I also happened by the relaunching and re-christening of BELLE, a Herreshoff 12 1/2-inspired small sailing boat designed and built by Daniel Gonneau. With her more open layout inboard and with no internal ballast, she’s quite different from the design of her keelboat cousin, but no less gorgeous. Her new owner first saw her in the Calendar of Wooden Boats and thought she’d be just the boat for him. When she came up for sale, it was a dream come true for him.