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Pacific Troller Dory Printed Plans

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15' 6"/4.72 m


Note: These plans consist of a booklet of 36 pages of text, drawings and photos on 8.5" x 11" pages. The printed version is black and white. The PDF file for instant download has color photographs. To save $5 and postage costs choose the download option by ordering HERE


This modified version of the traditional gunning dory is built with lightweight ply and epoxy in a simplified double chine hull form. This new 16 footer is a lightweight version of our 19 foot gun dory which is a much larger big water design and is way too much boat for most people. The new boat has the same look in a smaller, easier to build lightweight hull that can be car-topped. It rows easily and properly equipped it makes a capable open water boat.

Construction is a straightforward process of stitching five full-length plywood panels together with plastic ties, then sealing seams with glass tape. No building base is required and bulkheads serve as forms to hold panels in alignment during assembly. To further streamline building, both ends of the gun dory are identical so the same plank pattern can be used 4 times. The hull interior is clean and open with none of the ribs, frames or stringers of traditional construction, making it easier to maintain, clean and repair. Hull reinforcement is provided by four full length chines, compartments, butt-blocks, seats and gunnel laminations. The hull exterior may be sheathed with glass cloth or glass tape can be laid over seams to save weight.

Structural storage compartments are easy to build and make waterproof using ply and epoxy, and also provide seating and emergency flotation capability should the hull fill with water. Compartments may be accessed by easily installed circular screw-outs, or by larger traditional hinged yacht hatches.

The smallest of electric or gas motors will push the slippery double chine hull, and a motor can be installed with a clamp-on side mount or in a custom built motor well conveniently located inside the boat. A typical motor well installation is included in the building plans.

There is room for two rowing stations, or the double ender makes a pleasing solo camp cruiser with room for piles of gear. A drop-in sliding seat rowing unit such as the Piantedosi can be installed and removed in seconds, and the boat is fast enough to make an enjoyable exercise rower which works well in waves that would disable a rowing shell. With appropriate seating the boat may also be paddled like a canoe, or poled standing up in calm water. Build two of these and enjoy rowing or cruising together, or just drifting a quiet stream.

The detailed building plans include over 30 pages, all written for amateurs and first timers. These new gun dory plans are expanded with many new options for materials, reinforcements and interior layout, and include sketches, photos, material sources, step-by-step and discussion of many options to modify and customize the boat.



Builder Comments and Photos

Hi Paul.....I am in Norway, located at the southern coast, but come from northern Norway. I felt the build of the Pacific Troller boat went well and I finished (built over the summer), and simply painted it in my quick version of marine camo. The bottom paint is West System "graphite". The boats primary use is hunting and I normally carry a shotgun open in the boat, which will take eider ducks and mallards, and a rifle packed down, should i see cormorants or eider ducks sitting at distant rocks. I cartop it occasionally--it is no problem weight-wise.

I have used the boat quite a lot, and mostly for waterfowl hunting, but also for purely recreational rowing, and as a "tender" for inexperienced kayakers. I find it extremely light-driven, although the directional stability in the no-skeg version is low it is no problem for an experienced rower. On flat water or inshore it covers distance, can be handled easily, hidden, towed, carried, whatever. For a one man boat it is near perfect. Great boat. Also, in waves it stops rather easily, at least compared to the Faerings i grew up with. They are however insanely expensive (a new one will cost $8K-9K USD complete), and also will be heavy enough to demand a mooring.

On the Pacific Troller Dory I put the oarlocks at center and the seat in front, so without a load I row front heavy. With a kid on the rear end compartment, it rows much easier and also works well with a kid up front and a bigger at rear - but they grow up. And already, with one kid and my kit for hunting or fishing for a day or so - it is somewhat overloaded. With two large adults and kit in anything but flat water is not advisable---(and my hunting friends are all big guys too)! Something I have encountered in rough water is the lack of height between the thwart and the gunnel, sometimes it can be a challenge to keep the oars out of the water on the backstroke. But still, very safe in anything but really bad sea.

I saw your new addition to the boat plans, the Norwegian Gunning Dory. This is the kind of boat I grew up with in its various incarnations of spruce or pine, varying number of planks and general shape. They all would be a "Færing" or "spissbåt". "geitbåt" - "Goat-boat" is the term I'm used too for the one you show here, it climbs waves instead of piercing them as the straight stemmed "færing" would. Not as fast, but easier to drag up on a shore with its pronounced rocker. And not as wet. As a curiosity one of the "hero stories" they still tell here is about the guys that rowed to Denmark for casks of wheat grain during the British siege in 1810-12, a mere 70-80 nautical miles of open sea. The boats used were the traditional "rosjekte", much like your big dory, but clinker built from oak planking.

Anyways, I am considering building a new boat, and my need is really something that will carry a small family. To be rowed by two, but not hard to row for one. I have looked long and hard at the gunning dory by William Chamberlain, as well as various Whitehall designs, all in Gardners various books - but alas, they are too much work and too complicated for the facilities i have to build a boat. I need a light driven stitch and glue boat as I will more often than not find myself propelling a boat with 4 persons on. Could you give me a little more insight into the 19 foot gun dory of yours. Also interested in the Norwegian gun dory.

Regards, Krister



Last year I ordered the plans for the Pacific Gun Dory. After gathering all the nessesities it took me about 6 weeks to build. Real time working on the boat was a lot less. The boat is a dream to row. With a gps I can row to 6 mph, Can hold 4.5 mph for hours after a little getting in shape. The only thing I have found faster is a rowing shell.

I want to build another boat and have looked at many plans and have found nothing that has the beautiful lines of the Pacific Gun Dory. The double chine sets it in a class of its own. So I need to build another one. In the plans I purchased it stated these were for one boat. Since I want to build another I need to know whats necessary for the okay. Everywhere I take this boat I get attention and compliments. Even at the Toledo Oregon boat show it was a hit. The epoxy work was quite an experience. I learned a lot, with the knowledge gained I could build one in half the time and do a better job on the finish.

I was a little apprehensive about taking another person in the boat. Thinking it might not trim as well and affect the rowing. It makes almost no difference with a combined weight of 370 lbs. It still does 6 mph on the top and rows nearly as easy. It tracks perfectly and holds well in a wind. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you---

Dan Moore



Hi Paul

I wanted to share with you some pics of my completed Pacific Troller Dory. I just call it a gunning dory. Mine came out 15 foot 4 inches long, with a 4 foot beam. I added the sailing bits to the plan myself. The rig is a lateen sail and spars from an Old Town canoe that I picked up for $20. She rows and sails great. The boat is light enough that I can launch it from a dolly at my local beach. It will be used for fishing and sailing and rowing fun on Lake Erie. And she is light enough to be hauled cartop style on top of our popup camper when we go camping. I have yet to try the trolling motor on her, but I think she will do just fine with the little electric motor on there too. Maybe calls for some future tinkering.

Tim Abbott


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Additional Information

Designer Name:
paul butler
Length (range):
8' - 15'11"' / 2.44m - 4.85m
15' 6"/4.72 m
Length at Waterline:
13' 8"/ 4.16m
45"/ 1.14 m
Hull Weight:
85 - 199 lbs / 38.56 - 90.27kg
Estimated Hull Weight:
90 lbs/ 40 kg
6" - 11" / 15.24 - 30.27cm
Unloaded Draft:
6"/.15 m
Weight Capacity:
400 lbs/ 181 kg
Primary Material:
Marine Plywood
Method of Construction:
Stitch and Glue
Hull Type:
Hull Shape:
Flat bottom
Power Source:
Horsepower Rating:
2 HP
Built-in Floatation:
Unit of Measure:
Instruction Manual:
Step-by-Step Instructions
Lofting Required:
Recommended Experience Level:
Designer's Thoughts on Experience Level:
written for amateurs
Boat Type:
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