Sailing a Chesapeake Light Craft on Barnegat Bay
I recently had the opportunity to sail on a Chesapeake Light Craft. Jesus, a retired woodworker, who was raised in a small fishing village in Spain and moved to the U.S. 30 years ago, is the proud owner of a Northeaster Dory. He had built the Dory over a 6 month period from a kit purchased from Chesapeake Light Craft. When Jesus called me on the phone he was very excited about launching and sailing the Dory’s maiden sail on Barnegat Bay. I must admit I was a little hesitant of such a light handmade craft sailing upon the windy waters of Barnegat Bay.
To my delight when I saw Jesus’ enthusiasm and the beauty of his dory, I knew it was going to be a special day. We backed the trailer down a sandy beach located near Barnegat Bay Sailing School in Bayville, New Jersey. Jesus then stepped the mast, secured the rigging, and attached the sails. In less than 15 minutes Jesus and I were zipping across Barnegat Bay in his custom built sailing Dory.
The Northeaster uses Chesapeake Light Craft’s patented LapStitch process, in which pre-cut planking is assembled quickly with wire “stitches”. Bulkheads are laminated together from layers of plywood. Epoxied together, the hull is light, only about 100 pounds, and very strong. The sailboat fully rigged has 800 pounds of displacement and sailed very comfortably with the two of us. A daggerboard simplifies construction, but the yoke-and-draglink tiller arrangement took some getting used to. Under sail the Northeaster Dory is fast, stiff, and dry. Given the narrow waterline, the hull is extremely easily sailed and jumps up to speed in light air. The acceleration is really noticeable. The hull flares rapidly above the water, so stability comes on strong as the boat heels under sail. I never felt the sensation that we would capsize as one often does in small light sailboats.
After 3 hours of sailing up, down, and across Barnegat Bay we were ready to stretch our legs back on shore. Soon after sailing the Dory up onto the sandy shore, an older gentleman approached with lots of questions and accolades of such a beautiful sailing craft. He made an offer to purchase the Northeaster Dory and Jesus said he would consider it. On the car ride back to the sailing school, Jesus confided in me that he had as much enjoyment building the sailboat as he did sailing it upon the Bay. As Jesus drove away I felt very fortunate to have been a part of seeing his lifelong dream becoming reality.