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The Restoration of The Dowager

The Dowager
Dowager photos and text (c) Don Pakkala 1999

What makes a boat special? Is it the look of her as she floats placidly at a mooring or her form as she moves gracefully through the water? Perhaps it's the beautiful mahogany brightwork that adorns her cabins. To some it may be the quality materials and craftsmanship that is apparent in her construction. The DOWAGER has all of this and more. She is truly a lady of fine breeding and ample means as her name suggests.

Built in 1931 in Port Clinton, Ohio by the Matthews Boat Company she was known as the 40th Anniversary Series Matthews "38' Double Cabin Cruiser". Heavily built of mahogany carvel planking over white oak frames fastened with copper rivets and galvanized screws, she was meant to stand up to the most severe conditions. The spacious and practical cabin layout made her one of the most desired boats of the time in that size range.

October 1998. After a long and successful career with a number of owners the DOWAGER arrives on a trailer at Cayuga Wooden Boatworks in Ithaca, N.Y. She has served her masters well with a minimum of repair. She has been up on blocks, in storage for several years. Her galvanized fastenings have corroded through and started rot in her frames, planking, keel and stem. The canvas deck covering is brittle and cracked with too many layers of paint. There is damage to the keel where a storage trailer collapsed dropping her to the ground. Her paint and varnish are faded and her hull is a little out of shape. But yet, as she lays on a steel cradle inside the shop awaiting her turn at restoration, she is beautiful.

For a guided tour from beginning to end start here:

1    2    3     4     5    6    7    8    9    10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18    


Near Completion  Moving out of the shop  Ready to Launch  In the water



Dennis Montgomery

Cayuga Wooden Boatworks


6301 Water St.
Cayuga, NY 13034
Voice: 315.253.7447

435 Taughannock Blvd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Voice: 607.272.1581
Fax: 607.272.1601


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