washington 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.

Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding Admissions Open House


Meet and speak fellow perspective students, current NWSWB students, alumni, and NWSWB staff and faculty.
Learn about the School’s history and future plans from the Executive Director and Chief Instructor
Take an extensive tour of the campus, shops, and facilities.
Get up close to the current boatbuilding projects.
Learn about the career paths and professional opportunities of NWSWB alumni.
Meet the Admissions Manager and learn about the application process and financial aid.
Enjoy all that Port Townsend has to offer, including the Annual Rhododendron Festival on Saturday and Sunday.
*Optional: Attend lecture and shadow a current student in the shop from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Please choose option when registering.

Spokane Middle Schoolers from Marshall Islands Build for Summer Program

A sky-high view of fish lake, with canoes following the students' outrigger. Jesse Tinsley, Spokesman-Review

The winds were too light for sailing, but the students had fun paddling around Fish Lake.

In Spokane, Washington, Shaw Middle School students launched a Marshallese-style canoe with outrigger and sailing rig after participating in a summer program with a boatbuilding focus. There is a small group of immigrants there from the Marshall Islands, and the program’s aim was to help with communication, reading, and feeling more connected to both their heritage and to their school in the hope of increasing graduation rates.

Read the whole story at The Spokesman-Review.

Students paddle their decorated outrigger.Jesse Tinsley, The Spokesman-Review

The program was part-English class, part-boatbuilding and relevant culture class for students who might otherwise not thrive in the American classroom environment.