16’ Crawford Swampscott Dory
About the Dory
Sail, Motor, Row, Tow
The molds, patterns, plans, support and guidance
to build this boat are for sale
The story of the Swampscott Dory is to a great degree the story of the beginning of Crawford Boat Building. It was the first boat I built under my own name, in many ways my first true love in boat building, and the tale goes like this:
The Dory was designed by Jon Blanchard in the early 1970’s. Jon had been a surfing friend and became my first employer and mentor in the boat building business. He designed the boat solely as a motor and rowing boat. While I was in his employ in 1974 I borrowed the dory mold to build myself a hull that I rigged up as a sailing dory with a conventional main and jib rig. I used it with great enjoyment for two years, and while that rig was overcomplicated for this boat, it performed well. When Jon’s business closed in the winter of 1975 I purchased the mold and rights to build it from Jon, and opened Crawford Boat Building in April of 1976 building the Dory as a rowing and motoring boat. In September of ’76 I began offering the boat with a 77’ spritsail rig. A few years later the sail area was increased to 99 square feet for better overall performance.
A few words that have to be said: Jon Blanchard was a true genius at small boat design and every one of his boats has a beautiful sheerline, non more perfect than the Swampscott Dory! I am most fortunate to have been associated with Jon and will be forever grateful for being able to observe his talents at work. My goal for many years was “to be as good as Jon” and that mission has served me well.
Additionally, I was the beneficiary of more good fortune when John Dietenhofer came aboard and worked alongside me. John and I developed a synchronicity personally and professionally, and his work ethic and considerable talents were a huge contribution to crafting the (now) hundreds of boats we have built together since the 1970’s.
Back to the Dories. The early boats were finished with mahogany and occasionally oak, and from the mid 1980’s on with teak. Not only was the woodwork and finish work lovely, but the boat was adorned with polished bronze hardware and traditional spars and rigging.
Not long after the Dory was in production, boating, marine trade and lifestyle magazines took immediate notice of the Dory and several extremely flattering articles were published.
The Dory and a few other small dinghy designs supported the growth of the business until the magic of the Melonseed Skiff struck us in the late 1980’s, and by the late 1990’s the demand for the Melonseed had become so high that it became physically and financially impractical to try and build both boats simultaneously in our small shop. It was a very hard decision to make, but after completing the 200th Swampscott Dory, production was ceased and the molds retired to the storage yard. The Swampscott Dory had put the name and good reputation of Crawford built boats on the map, but it was to become the Melonseed Skiff that would take it to yet another and even more elevated level.
Demand for the Dory did not stop however as folks continued to ask if we could build “just one more” for many years, and that occasionally happens even today. There’s still a tugging at my heart strings that makes me have the occasional fantasy about bringing the boat back into production, and I have no doubt that it would be very successful in the marketplace but alas, at this point in my career it’s just not realistic. .
I’ve seen many great small boat designs come and go in the four decades I’ve been building boats. Some have lasted to become classics and others, while good boats, simply faded away. I have yet to see one that in my opinion, is equal to the Crawford Swampscott Dory in its simplicity and versatility. And then too, there’s that beautiful sweeping sheerline that’s pure nautical eye candy.
Used Crawford Swampscott Dories occasionally become available. Often when I find them online, they have already been sold quickly, and they are occasionally referred to as “somewhat collectible” and “classics”.
With the hope that there is another younger boat builder with ambition and dreams, and the talent to compliment, I am willing to consider selling the molds, patterns, jigs and plans to build the Swampscott Dory again. The project would require some time and capital investment to retool things to a level that would allow for maximum profit for the builder. I am willing to consult on that so that the boat gets a great chance for another round of success.
Read on below and take a journey through the information provided here. It will give you a history of the boat and provide some insight into its potential in the future.
If you have any interest in this proposition, you can email me at:
or call me at the boat shop
The old Crawford 16’ Swampscott Dory
brochure from about 1999
Dory style boats were the first type of watercraft built in the New World when the Europeans first explored and settled this continent, and they are still in production today. North Atlantic fishermen have used dories for centuries, creating an unmatched legend of dependability and performance in even the most adverse conditions. It would be hard to find a boat more revered for its history of seaworthiness.
The Swampscott Dory, recognized as the aristocrat of the dory family is considered to be the most eye appealing of all the different dory types. In contrast to its cousins, the narrower straight sided dories, the Swampscott’s rounder sides and soft lines make more graceful in appearance, a very smart sailor and pleasant to row.
The classic traditional spritsail is the most efficient and practical rig for a small open boat. This sturdy rig is adaptable to all conditions and wind strengths. It sets up in seconds and can be unstepped and handily stowed back in the boat just as quickly. The sprit rig’s low center of effort matches up well with the Swampscott’s wide beam and results in lively performance with great reserves of buoyancy and stability. This is a fun boat to sail, and the honesty of its workboat heritage ensures that it will be able, weatherly and safe.
If you are a lover of traditional boats and have an eye for beautiful lines it would be hard not to be impressed with the Crawford Swampscott Dory. The lovely flowing sheerline, soft round curves and salty profile easily distinguish it from today’s sterile production boats. This is a boat that receives endless compliments from other boaters.
Every detail of her construction from the structural fiberglass work to the minute details of finish work is done honestly and thoughtfully. The hull is built of a solid laminate of layers of fiberglass mat, heavy woven or stitched roving and cloth. The bottom is foam cored for extra thickness and strength. ALL the fiberglass work is done by the true hand layup method. These are very solid, strong boats. Positive foam flotation in the bow and stern chambers guarantee the boat to be unsinkable. Gorgeous teak woodwork is generously used to trim out the gunnels, interior seats, rudder and tiller and other structural parts, and this premium hardwood will last indefinitely. The hardware is bronze and brass, fastenings are stainless and bronze. Spars are highly varnished Douglas fir, and sails and rigging are Dacron.
Rowing for exercise and pleasure has made a big comeback in recent years, and of course dories are known as fine rowing boats in either rough open waters or quiet back waters. When you first row the Swampscott Dory you will immediately sense how efficient and easy to handle she is. She carries well and tracks nicely. The broad beam and wide thwarts allows two oarspersons to sit side by side, or, one aft and one forward. It can be rowed by only one, or up to four persons. It’s fun to row in this fashion, and a great way to teach children to handle a rowing boat.
A unique motor well is built into the inside of the boat in the stern area. It allows the outboard motor to tilt up for beaching and will work with the rudder in place. Because the true displacement hull is so efficient it takes only a small 3 horsepower engine to push the boat close to hull speed, and it will accept a larger engine up to 6 HP if one of modest size is used.
Many boats suffer from either being too specialized or compromised by trying to get too much into too little. The Crawford Swampscott Dory with its unique, simple and practical setup is certainly one of the most versatile boats available at any price. It SAILS, MOTORS AND ROWS! It is safe and seaworthy, easy to trailer, launch and rig, and uncomplicated to use. The interior layout is spacious and sensible. It would require a long list to count up all the possible uses, both for pleasure or working that this beautiful Swampscott Dory will allow. You can trust her in open water or take her gunkholing in the bays and marshes. Imagine the wide range of boating skills that can be learned (or taught to children) in this safe and versatile boat. While this may be the ideal first boat for a family, many seasoned and accomplished boaters have purchased a Crawford Swampscott Dory and enthusiastically applaud its performance.
Thanks for your interest in the Dory, and if you are contemplating the purchase of a small traditional boat we would appreciate your consideration of the Crawford 16’ Swampscott Dory.
L.O.A. 16’ 0” Displacement (approx.)
L.W.L. 12’ 8” Rowing model 300 Lbs.
Beam 6’ 0” Sailing model 450 Lbs.
Beam @ W.L. 3’ 0”
Draft: Sail area: 99 Sq ft.
Board up 3” w/ reef points @ 70 “
Board down 3’ 0” Transom height – 15” (short shaft)
Stories, reviews and owner comments
“If I didn’t already own one of Crawford’s Swampscott’s, I would look long and hard at this boat. I use mine regularly on the ocean. It is remarkably seaworthy under normal conditions of wind and wave, and unbelievably good in the worst going of mixed sloppy seas when the tall ships are in Boston, and there are 40,000 Bayliners out there making a mess of the water. This dory handles seas like that with absolute calm (and) a she’s a surprisingly dry sailor even under windy and choppy conditions.”
(**) Your Dory is under-appreciated as a fine sea boat. I have had her out in conditions when no other 16 footer would dare to go out and given all the wind & wave - she sails DRY! One time I crossed west Penobscot from Lincolnville to Warren Island in company with a friend in his Scaffie, not at all a bad boat. He is also a better & more experienced sailor than I am. Strong SW following wind & waves. I was going so fast that my motor tilted and interfered with the rudder. Eventually I got that tilt mechanism tightened, and sailed on (and yes, you should be in neutral). It was one of those exhilarating rides when you can't imagine how that the huge lump of water coming up behind you will fail to overwhelm you. In the Scaffie's case one of them did poop him and he took on a fair amount of water. Me? I bailed with a sponge.
That deck is a life saver for sleep aboard cruising. And that dory may just be the best open boat cruiser EVER for the Maine Island Trail.
One other point occurs. Over the years I have built three light weight Banks dories, (one a Gloucester Gull - far too tender for my likes), a Bolger Sweet Pea and most recently a CLC Chester Yawl. All are light weight boats, somewhere in the 100 lb range. So, I say that if you are going to be out where the water is big, never weigh more that your boat. The Swampscott's weight is a big contributor to seaworthiness.
Your taste in boats is impeccable. Enjoy your dory. Go outside to some of the Maine offshore islands. Sleep aboard. Best nights sleep ever as you rock on the anchor. One time I overnighted at Damariscove Island, and the folks on a yacht asked if I were in distress, being forced so far off shore in so small a boat! Ha! That same trip I went back through both of the Sasanoa Hell Gates. Memories!!
“I think it’s time I gave you a brief report on our Crawford Dory, whom we have named “Loon”. She is wonderful. She is beautifully balanced ; finger on the tiller is all she needs. She is comfortable at any angle of heel and my bare feet always find just the place to brace me. When I drive her into a head sea she shows no signs of over balancing or distress. She takes it all in stride and thinks nothing of it.
Becalmed a mile down current from her mooring, I rowed her home, playing the eddies in the shoal water. She rows like a dream, tracks like a Pullman car, even in six inches of water.
My pleasure in her seakeeping qualities is enhanced by her beauty. Everywhere I look I see construction solidly and precisely done. You have not skimped anywhere. I have complete confidence in her.
Thank you for creating such a lovely vessel.”
Commander David Little (retired), USN
It happened again this morning as it has happened countless times before. A large auxiliary changed course and ran under my stern to the helmsman could shout out “What kind of boat is that? Where did you get her? She’s beautiful.” My answer is always the same. “She’s a Swampscott Dory, built in Marshfield, MA by Crawford Boat Building.” It’s been quite a while since I took delivery from you in 1978, but I want you to know that your dory has been a constant source of pleasure for me, both rowing and sailing.”
Jim Thorrington, Annapolis, MD July, 1983
By 1982 we had built 100 Swampscott Dories. The article below appeared in the local newspaper “The Marshfield Mariner” September 1, 1982.
CELEBRATION PLANNED FOR THIS SATURDAY
There’s a small building in Humarock that’ll be the scene of a big event Saturday. Roger Crawford, boat builder, will celebrate the 100th Swampscott Dory. Crawford is holding an open house Sept. 4th from 9 a.m. to noon at his shop on Ferry Street to observe the occasion. What’s more he’s keeping the boat for his own use. He says he started building them in 1976, and each time he eyed one for his own use he ended up selling it to an eager customer.
In this coastal area a boat builder is a classic part of the community. Saturday one of them, Roger Crawford, will set aside time in a weathered building at 1240 Ferry St. to take note, for the record, of what’s been done. Roger also credits his assistant John Dietenhofer as having been an important part of his operation for three years.
There by the banks of the South River, 100 Swampscott Dories have been completed. The public is invited to share in the event.
In 1984 SMALL BOAT JOURNAL, then the “bible” in the small boat publishing world did an article in the May 1984 issue #36 and reviewed the boat for its readers. I was very pleased that the writer chosen to do the review was the very well respected publisher, author, seaman and expert on small traditional boats ROGER TAYLOR. I knew that his experience and keen eye would see and feel it all when he got his hands on the boat, and that surely happened. Roger, his son, John and I messed about in two of the Swampscott Dories for an afternoon.
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Construction and Details
Click below to see more of the Swampscott Dory
click for more Sailing photos
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Rowing, Motoring and Towing
Original Schematic Drawing
Sail Model and Interior Layouts