Crocker Compass Sailing Dory

Crocker Compass sailing dory

The Crocker Compass sailing dory is not just the little sister of the Alden Indian...
it really is a different boat.

Sam Crocker drafted plans for the Indian while working for John Alden.
Now, this is a great boat. It's one of the finest sailing boats ever designed and built in New England. With a 21 foot length overall and a 6 foot 6 inch beam, the Indian absolutely flies with 220 square feet of canvas.

An easier-to-manage Sailing Dory

When it comes to launching and rigging, the Compass is a much more manageable boat. The rudder arrangement makes it possible to unship, so that it's free from damage in the shallows or loading on a trailer. The rudder on the Indian is vulnerable and seems to be a source of trouble.

The 18 foot length on deck of the Compass produces a lighter weight sailboat, yet the hull form is very similar. Both boats gather their lineage from the sailing dory. Although essentially round-bottomed boats, they are built with a wide plank keel. The Swampscott Dory is constructed very much the same way.

Sail plans allow for a choice of a marconi, which carries a 23 foot mast, similar to the Indian. The gaff rig seen here is easily set up, with a mast at just 15 feet. The only standing rigging is one port, starboard, and the forestay. Compare this to the Indian's nearly 27 foot mast with additional running backstays!

With small sailboats there are always trade-offs to make. The question anyone should ask first is...
How will I use the boat? Your first choice might be the Indian, as mine is. But when you think of the added time and effort needed to make sail, the Compass starts to make a lot of sense.

A look at a few of the older boats built with traditional construction reveal a few problems. The garboard is very wide and tends to split with conventional cedar. And the joining of the garboard with plank keel must allow for expansion or else it's likely to open up. Another common area of concern is the centerboard trunk.

Building Methods

With proper care and maintenance these boats will last a very long time. But we might consider a few modern techniques for eliminating these inherent faults. Quality marine plywood could offer a better planking material. And epoxy would button-up the problem joints. An outer plank keel, or wormshoe can expand or contract, a particularly good idea if your boat will live mostly on a trailer.

Wooden Boat Plans

Original boat building plans for this boat are held by the Peabody Essex Museum and Crocker's Boat Yard. Ask for Sam Crocker's Design #175.


A restored Compass Class Sloop by Ray Heus

Compass Class Sailing Dory Builder Information

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