DORYMAN

Three generations of the Learned family have fished dory boats off the beach at Pacific City, Oregon.  The Learned family began building boats in 1975 and have passed their trade from father to son. As of 2014, Terry Learned is reported as being the last commercial builder of ocean going dory boats in the United States. He has crafted well over one-hundred dory boats by hand and has helped to keep the tradition of dory fishing and boat building alive in Pacific City. 

Commercial dory fishermen have been fishing out of Pacific City since the early 1900s. In the 1960's and 70's the dory boat became the preferred fishing vessel for commercial fisherman based in Pacific City, OR.  There were hundreds of boats in the dory fleet then, and by the mid-’70s, Pacific City was the second largest salmon-fishing port on the Oregon Coast. Dory boats were first powered with oars, but virtually all modern boats are outfitted with motors. Flat-bottomed dories historically were built from spruce planks using a design that is unique to Oregon.  The benefit of the dory design is that the boat allows fisherman to launch and return to shore directly from the beach, this negates the need to launch the vessel from a port or the need to cross a bar. 

As the commercial dory fleet in Pacific City declined in the 70s so did the number of local boat builders.  Within the last twenty years Pacific City went from having four local commercial dory builders to one, Terry Learned is the last man standing. After visiting Terry in Pacific City, I began to think about the business pressures of scale and profitability and how each has induced and challenged culture and a way of life that has existed on the Oregon coast for a long time. This body of work is an attempt to document a way of life that is both challenged and diminished. For me, Terry Learned's life and his work represent something that is anti-industrial, his motivations to build boats are driven by tradition and passion and not much more, this is something worth preserving as it is a rare find. 

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