It’s never dull here at the Dory Shop. Between the meticulous work of repairing Tosca, to Picton Castle’s Bosun School using both our yard and Mike’s expertise with small boat projects, we’ve managed to schedule in a dory building class. Five men have come this year, from the USA and Eastern Canada.
One of the things I have remarked on many times before is my never-ending amazement at how a stack of lumber can turn into a beautifully made dory. I realise that might not be quite so awe-inspiring to you all as it is to me. It blows my mind every time. But there is something else that happens with each course as well. And it isn’t something so tangible as a newly built boat.
We rarely have people sign up as a to take our course as a couple – it is almost always individuals who come and generally men (very few women have taken part over the years for some reason); all total strangers. Nothing in common but this interest to build one of these historic old wooden rowing boats.
One of the things included in our dory classes are morning and afternoon coffee breaks up here in the office; away from the noise and the dust and the curious but unmistakable amalgam of smells that lingers in the air of our century-old boat building shop: wood, pine tar, linseed oil, the lit wood stove, old rope and the ancient frames of the building, charred before my time in what must have been a worrisome fire at the time.
That first coffee break is pretty quiet. Polite chit chat about weather, people’s families and interests. Mike leads the conversation at all times; answering questions, chatting about Lunenburg, dories, and dories in Lunenburg. It’s pretty focused on the task at hand. Nobody yet knows anyone else’s personality: is someone going to drive them nuts? Is someone going to be more knowledgeable than them? Is Mike a know-it-all jerk with no decent information to pass along? Will it be fun or arduous? Nobody knows yet. Tense & quiet are probably the words I’d use. Excited too.
By the end of that week, the coffee breaks start to get a bit longer, because everyone has so much to talk about. They’re getting to know each other as they are there working together all morning, all afternoon. They even have lunches together each day – something else we provide for them. This year they are having their meals on the Picton Castle with the Bosun School. Their Cook, Chantelle, has been whipping up some delicious meals for them.
I’m finding it hard to believe the two-week course is nearly over. In 2.5 days we will launch their boat (weather permitting), and then these new friends will all go their separate ways. Back to their lives at home. They’ll take with them photos, a Dory Shop Cap and a small pocket of new friends. It’s always fun watching friendships form. And that’s the other cool thing about these courses – the friendships and camaraderie that forms so quickly between a group of complete strangers.