The Governor’s Academy recently partnered with Lowell's Boat Shop*, America's oldest continuously operating boat shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts, to try a few hand-built dories for various experiences at the Bill ’67 and Peter ‘71 Alfond Coastal Research Center. The unique design of the dories provides extra buoyancy amidships and are designed with a high, narrow, steeply raked, wedge-shaped “tombstone transom” that is well suited to propel the dories through all manner of boating conditions, from rivers and marsh to ocean surf.
Director of the Bass Institute Erika Mitkus saw an opportunity to partner with the Lowell Boat Shop builders to provide dories well-suited to the marsh environment for fieldwork at the Alfond Center.
“I was introduced to the Lowell's Boat Shop owner, Graham McKay, via Governor’s history teacher Bill Quigley, who knows Graham from some community organizations they are a part of,” said Mitkus. “It was immediately clear there were some great opportunities for our students to engage in hands-on, local learning with the Lowell's Boat Shop. We were already thinking about starting a boating program, so it made sense to partner with local experts.”
Mikus visited Lowell's Boat Shop last spring to watch students from Amesbury High School participate in a Math on the Water program, and watching the dories in action with students convinced her that they were a safe and enjoyable way to get out on the water. Mitkus reserved the boats for rental in mid-October and was thrilled to see how excited students were to try the dories. The Academy’s AP Environmental Science classes collected data from the boats, Spanish III used the dories to learn some specific Spanish vocab around water and boats, Women’s Studies rowed out to view Christiana Morgan’s tower from the river and to discuss how the river influenced her work, and Life Fitness explored beautiful stretches of the Parker River and, in many cases, learned to row a dory.
Mitkus looks forward to officially adding several Lowell's Boat Shop multi-use dories to the Alfond Center next spring.
*About Lowell's Boat Shop
Established in 1793, Lowell’s Boat Shop is America's oldest continuously operating boat shop and is cited as the birthplace of the legendary fishing dory. Skilled craftspeople continue to build wooden boats in the Lowell tradition of Simeon Lowell, whose radical innovations in boat building included eliminating the complex, hand-carved keel of small boats and substituting a simple, flat, football-shaped bottom. He reduced the framing from dozens to four or five rugged “timbers” and the planking from ten or more to a few wide, lapped planks that formed rounded bilges to provide extra buoyancy amidships. Perhaps more importantly, he designed a high, narrow, steeply raked, wedge-shaped “tombstone transom” that could split a following sea and propel a boat up and through the surf.