Did you know that different types of dories are specific to the region they were built in? The Ogunquit Dory is one such dory. Popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ogunquit Dory was built to handle the strong tides and rocky coastline of Maine. They were built 16 to 21 feet long, with a wide beam to accommodate lobster traps or trawling gear. William Henry Perkins began building them upon returning to Ogunquit after fishing on the Grand Banks in what was known as the banks dory. These Ogunquit dories were used well into the 19th century before gradually disappearing, but some boat builders have built new dories based on the original design.
The Mystery Dory of Ogunquit
Which brings me to this past weekend's adventures. I haven't been photographing much, because well, this time of year is just kind of bland in New England. The snow is mostly melted. There are no leaves on trees. No wildflowers blooming yet. Mud is EVERYWHERE! At times like this, when I do get out, I try to stick to the coast, where the trees are normally pine and have their needles, and the rocky shoreline adds plenty of interest. I had been trying to find a location I haven't been to before, or at least hadn't photographed much, when I realized I had not been to Footbridge Beach in Ogunquit.
The beach itself is one of Maine's few sandy beaches, with no rocks or anything of real visual interest. But the beach is separated from the mainland by the Ogunquit River, and a wooden footbridge spans the river to allow access to the beach. Along the river, not far from the parking lot, is a marshy area, in which lies an old Ogunquit Dory, moored in the mud. It's been a popular subject for photographers. At the holidays, someone places a Christmas tree in the dory, making it look quite festive. It appeals to me as a subject because I love Maine's history and I love nautical themes in my images. I hadn't photographed this spot before, so on Saturday I woke early and headed out to correct that omission.
I've tried to find out exactly what the story behind this particular dory is. Who owns it? Why is it moored in the mud like it is? Where did it come from? Sadly, there doesn't seem to be many answers to these questions. I did find out from my friend and fellow photographer Jen Lippe that the town of Ogunquit monitors and moves the dory if needed (which apparently happened last year), but otherwise, no one really seems to know anything else about it. Either way, I'm glad it's there. I do intend to return during the summer under different conditions and see what I can make of it.