Re: Dory Ballast
Try it in light winds with no ballast. Learning to sail, particularly in a new boat, is challenging enough without complicating it with any other factors.
Best way is to lure experienced sailors into sailing with you, as they will have a lot of knowledge you can pick up without having to learn it all the hard way.
In my experience with dories, ballast is used for two primary purposes -- sailing and rowing, and I think it is more important for the latter.
You can shift your (and your crew's) weight around when sailing, but are fixed in place when rowing. And if rowing across the wind or upwind, you may find that a full collapsible water jug (or two) provides critical weight forward, allowing you to row a much straighter course. The nice thing about these jugs is that you can empty and fill them at need, and they pack down nicely to save space when not in use.
I row and sail a very similar boat, as the Chamberlain dory skiff is the front 4/5th of a Swampscott. I have lead sheets cut into sections (and wrapped in duct tape) that fit under my removable floorboards, but rarely use them for sailing. Traditionally dorymen used a 'dory stone' as ballast, but others here recommend canvas bags of gravel or shingle as less damaging to the interior and paint -- the essential part of this is that the ballast material was free.
What sort of sailing rig do you have? Here's the woife and meself sailing SF Bay off Point Richmond -
Last edited by Thorne; 12-17-2007 at 10:39 AM.
"The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.