New Dory for Tall Ship Gazela

dorygazela1Tall ship Gazela Primeiro, the official tall ship of Philadelphia, carried 30 dories when it fished the Grand Banks of the Atlantic Ocean. A dory is a small wooden boat used by a solo fisherman who tended a long line with many hooks in the quest for cod. When Gazela came to Philadelphia at the end of its nearly 70 year fishing career there were still 6 dories on board.. Over the last 43 years those dories have deteriorated to where there was only one original dory left in very sad condition.

To enhance Gazela’s role as a 113 year old living museum teaching ecology and the preservation of natural resources it is important to show how fishing was done in the days of the long line where only the larger fish were taken, one at a time, in a way that preserved the fishstock. So in 2011, Tony Souza of Ottsville, PA, a volunteer member of the Gazela crew decided to build a new dory in his home workshop. Dory, ‘37’, joined the ship in May 2011 and has been with the ship on its visits to ports on the east coast ranging from Norfolk, VA to Nova Scotia.

dorygazela2At the close of each fishing day the 30 dories were recovered from the water and nested one inside the other on Gazela’s deck. With the newest dory from the Souza workshop there will again be two dories to show the nesting feature and two dories for the ship’s crew to use in practicing lowering and recovering, and rowing. Of course, as whenever there are two of anything there will be racing.

Gazela sailed every year from its home port of Lisbon, Portugal to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. In its later fishing years Gazela ranged up to the Arctic search of cod.. In 1970 Gazela was purchased as an addition to the Philadelphia Maritime Museum. Since then this grand old wooden barkentine has been sailed and maintained by the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild, an all volunteer organization, also sails and maintains Jupiter a 1901 iron tugboat using a floating workshop on barge Poplar.

dorygazela3The new dory is made of Nova Scotia spruce and Pennsylvania white oak. It is painted the traditional ox blood of Gazela’s former fishing association. Large white numbers painted near the bow identify each dory. The new dory bears the number ‘29’ chosen by the person who contributed a significant amount to purchase the materials of construction.

The new dory was completed in time to participate in the Walnut 2 Walnut Race sponsored by the Philadelphia Seaport Museum on May 31, 2014.

The15 mile race started at Walnut Street on the Schuykill River and ended at Walnut Street on the Delaware River. Rowing crews from tall ship Gazela Primeiro finished the race in good time and enjoyed it so much that they have suggested an evening row one day a week.

Dory 29 joins Dory 37, also built by me, on Gazela’s deck as part of the living museum of this 113 year old Portuguese fishing vessel.

Tony Souza can be contacted at

Marisa and Matthew await the start of the Walnut to Walnut Race

Marisa and Matthew await the start of the Walnut to Walnut Race


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