The Voyager was built by Dharma Voyage in 2011 on the lines of the traditional Cornish Pilot Gig. She is 32 feet long and is powered by 6 rowers and one steersperson.
Pilot Gigs were in common use as early as the 17th century on the rugged Cornish coast. They were used as shore-based lifeboats, fast passage makers, and even had an outlaw streak as they were among the fastest boats of their day. The most famed use of the Pilot Gig (and the use from which the name derives) was to bring a local pilot out to incoming sailing ships to guide these deep draft vessels safely through the treacherous, rock strewn waters that guarded the entrances to protected harbors.
Invariably, there would be more than one pilot in each harbor wishing to get the job, so as soon as a sail was spotted, each pilot would gather their broad-shouldered rowers and race out to the merchant ship. To get the job as pilot, they would simply have to be the first one at the site! As soon as one Gig continuously won, all others would be redesigned, resulting in ever faster craft. Going out in any weather, they balanced speed with great seaworthiness. The result is the fast, safe, beautiful boat that we use today.
The Voyager has a few modifications to the traditional design. We use Concept 2 oarlocks and carbon fiber oars (wonderfully light weight). She is built using a modern composite method with thin cedar planks encapsulated with clear fiberglass cloth inside and out – retaining the beauty and spirit of wood, with a lighter hull that requires substantially less maintenance.
Spirit of Westport
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Westport High School, in partnership with Dharma Voyage, offered Boat Building in Westport 2018 as a full-semester, tuition-free, course building a 25' Chamberlain rowing dory, Fiona.
Dan Harrington, a WCS biology and environmental studies teacher, took the lead in the classroom. During the winter months, students explored topics such as whaling, history of boat building in Westport, knot tying, model building, river science, boat design, and fishing.
In March, students began working in small groups at the boat shop at Titcomb Brothers Manufacturing on Forge Road. Dharma Voyage Executive Director, Ben Booth and Jon Aborn, both accomplished boat builders, lead this part of the course.
Australian Surf Boat
Surfboating is the extreme side of coastal rowing. Launching from the beach, through the waves, in the chop offshore, back in at high speed riding the face of a curling breaker… Its a rush of energy to power out through the waves and a soaring flight to return.
All that being said, the surf boat is also ideal for easy rows along the scenic South Coast. It is a great way to learn sliding seat rowing in a team boat. Its also an amazing new experience for flat-water rowers to step into a big boat and feel the oar in the wide open sea!
Dharma Voyage owns one of the few Australian Surf Boats that are in the U.S.A. This is a rugged boat waiting to play in waves and take some adventurous open-water rows.
On August 9, 2018, Sea Hare, a product of the 2017 Boat Building program, was donated to Station Maine (https://www.stationmaine.org/), an organization dedicated to offering boating opportunities at no cost to youth of all ages in Maine. It is fitting that as a part of Dharma Voyage's broader community outreach Sea Hare, built by young people in Westport, go to another youth rowing program.