Mick and Velita McCarthy

Velita and Mick building a dory - Photo courtesy of Marilyn Bruce
Velita and Mick building a dory – Photo courtesy of Marilyn Bruce

During a visit to Newfoundland’s west coast last spring, my colleague and I were directed to Benoit’s Cove to talk to the McCarthys about their experiences building and using dories in the Bay of Islands.

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Frank Combden’s Punt

p20161015_joe-batts-arm_frank-combden-33As a boy growing up Barr’d Islands on Fogo in the 1950s, Frank Combden learned how to build boats as part of a way of life. He watched as his father, George, and others built their fishing vessels and started building his own as a teenager. We met Frank in his shed where he described his process for building a 14’ row punt.

Frank uses a three piece mould to get the shape for the three main frames of the boat: the forehook, midship bend, and afthook. The three sticks are aligned according to sirmarks which indicate what section of the boat is being determined.

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Boat Building in La Poile Bay

Located on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, La Poile Bay runs northward for some nine miles from its entrance. As you continue into the harbor, the bay is divided into several smaller bays, including North Bay and East Bay, with Dolman’s Cove separating the two. North Bay and East Bay are both well protected, with East Bay being much easier to access and closer to the cod fishing grounds.

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North Bay

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Edwin Bishop’s Rodney

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Rodney under construction in Heart’s Delight, 2015

I first met Edwin Bishop in September of 2015. When I pulled into his driveway, I was greeted with an open garage door and the stem of a small boat barely visible in the sunlight. Freshly planked and without paint, it was a clever looking boat that revealed a particular attention to detail.

The inside rooms were painted a deep blue with white accents on each side. Edwin was working diligently in the back corner of the shed, but was eager to stop and chat about his project.
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