Why a C-Dory, Why Intuition

Because of the font we chose one side of the name then St. Louis MO, on the other side it is opposite.
Sometimes people read this side incorrectly, and say wow it’s the St. Louis Institution. We just laugh, and say yep, it’s quite an institution.

Words by Les and Kel Rohlf

As we wait in port for favorable weather and scheduled maintenance, we thought we’d share some thoughts on why we chose a C-Dory boat, and what the name Intuition means to us.

Les’ Notes on the C-Dory Decision

Why a C-Dory

When we first considered buying a boat roughly 12 years ago, we knew little about the design intricacies of boats but wanted something that would support our desire to explore. Specific requirements included the ability to store and move it via trailer. Results of my searches for “pocket cruiser” and “trailerable cruising boat” included C-Dory boats. C-Dories and several other similar pilothouse cruisers are built in the Pacific Northwest and are popular there due to their enclosed helm and cabin.  

Research on the C-Dory brand led to my reading Bill and El Fiero’s accounts of their decade of travels in a 22-foot C-Dory cruiser: http://cruisingamerica-halcyondays.com/. Their narratives expanded my view of what might be possible with a smaller boat. I also found and began lurking on the C-Dory internet forum (c-brats.com), whose members provided excellent real-world information.  Based on reports from those with experience, I understood that C-Dories and similar boats were suitable for longer and more complex adventures like the U.S. Great Loop and Pacific Northwest/Alaska.

Since every boat is a compromise, each person’s value calculation will be different depending on their planned uses and budget. C-Dories had appeal to us for their relatively simple design and components, reasonable operating costs, and good value (can’t use “low cost” when talking about boats). As it turns out, there was a C-Dory dealer in St. Louis who had a 25-foot cruiser in stock. It was a two-year-old model they had used for demos. They offered it for a reasonable price, especially considering we didn’t have to travel a great distance to buy this boat. Thus began our powerboat ownership adventure.

Here’s what we’ve learned from our experience with this particular boat:

Being trailerable has been critical to our style of use. We can quickly take it to a specific area we want to explore. Because of its portability, we’ve been able to do sections of the Great Loop in 2- to 3-week segments during vacations, the Erie Canal, a circumnavigation of Lake Michigan, most of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and the upper Mississippi from St. Paul to Dubuque. I believe a boat stored on a trailer also simplifies, and to a certain degree, reduces required maintenance.

The shallow draft of our boat (approximately 18 inches) allows us to navigate through and anchor in areas that may not be accessible to larger boats whose hulls require additional depth. 

The C-Dory 25 Cruiser is one of the smallest boats with all of the following functionality:

Sleeping quarters for two

Galley with sink and cooktop

Pressurized water system, Head with toilet and shower

Dinette

Refrigerator

We’d need to upsize to a 30+ foot boat to get significant increases in space and amenities (like separate shower, walk-around bed), at which point portability becomes more challenging.

The C-Dory’s hull has a flat aft bottom that makes it very efficient (150hp outboard provides sufficient power for speeds near 30 mph with a light boat), The flat bottom, however, is not well suited for larger wave conditions, as it tends to bob over or “pound”, rather than cut through waves. While we knew this going in, it’s hard to appreciate until you’ve experienced it. Our approach is to avoid waves 3 feet or higher whenever possible. During our trip this summer, we prioritize travel for days when the wave height is forecast to be “two feet or less.” This is a compromise we’re happy with, since a boat with a deep-V hull design requires significantly more power (along with greater complexity and operating costs) to provide similar performance.

Is a 25-foot C-Dory the best vessel for cruising Southeast Alaska? Perhaps not, if the decision was limited to that purpose alone. There are days when a little more space or a little more speed or a little larger water tank would be nice, but I’m not eager to give up the other benefits of a 25-foot trailerable boat. In our case, we appreciate that we have a boat capable and sufficient for this trip without losing the other benefits that led us to this model. The C-Dory continues to be ideal for our boating priorities.

Kel’s Musings on the Choice of Intuition

When Les first brought up the idea of getting a boat, I was surprised. Neither one of us grew up boating. Both of us enjoy outdoor activities, and have dabbled in backpacking, canoeing, bike touring with camping gear and local hikes now and again. Even though neither one of us considered ourselves boaters, we liked the idea of traveling by water and seeing new places. For us it was a great midlife “hobby” to pursue together.

I had always wanted a pop-up camper to get out in nature, so when I first toured the inside of the C-Dory I was hooked. Inside the cabin feels like a mini camper. A cozy bed, a sink, stove and mini fridge, the kitchenette, which converts to a single bed or chaise lounge, if I feel like spreading out, and the toilet with a shower, sort of. (At the time, I thought the shower was pretty cool, but have learned that showers are all relative.) Like Les mentioned, since its trailer-able we can haul it across the country for vacation or over to our local haunts on the Mississippi River for a weekend getaway.

The kitchenette converted into my chaise lounge (Upper Mississippi trip 2017)
My lounge covered with art supplies (Upper Mississippi trip 2017)

We took the boat for a test drive over in Alton, Illinois with the dealer on a rainy October afternoon. We were snug inside the cabin, and loved the simplicity of the fiberglass walls, ceiling and floor, which are fairly easy to keep clean. After helping the dealer get the boat back on the trailer in the rain, we drove home. On the drive home, I knew we had found our boat.

While we were still mulling over the decision to buy it or not, we discussed naming the boat. And the name, Intuition, popped into my head. I shared it with Les, and he liked it. And that’s the name we chose. Pretty basic, but I like to embellish things, so I could tell you that my intuition prompted the name, or that it’s a play on words like, “we’re dipping IN-TO-the kids-TUITION to buy it. But truly it just occurred to me, and we both liked it. Of course, if Les had picked the name it would have been something like Logic. (But as we all know a women’s intuition is always right.)

The other thing that I liked about the word intuition was its Latin roots:

from Late Latin intuition-, intuitio act of contemplating, from Latin intuēri to look at, contemplate (www.m-w.com)

The Intuition is our refuge where we like to go to contemplate, to relax, to look at life from a fresh perspective.

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1 KJV)

5 thoughts on “Why a C-Dory, Why Intuition

  1. I hesitate to comment because I do not want to intrude but I feel compelled to tell you two how much I enjoy your posts about your adventure.
    First, let me introduce myself. Jim Dunn, Lebanon. Know/knew your Les’ folks and younger brothers. Continue correspondence with Sherryl. Had many breakfasts with Rich where we discussed everything from stocks to the weather. I’m an old worn out AF helicopter pilot. My wife Kay is now in Alzheimer’s care so we no longer can travel. Our oldest son Josh is good buddies with Lyle. They had lunch one day in July and Lyle shared your blog and travels with Josh. So now you know my connection.
    Kay and I had a fifth-wheel camper that we towed with our pick-up. In 2005 we departed Lebanon for 13 weeks without camper towing experience, for Canada and AK. Drove to Calgary, Banff, Prince George, then to Prince Rupert. There we got on a ferry to Ketchikan for 3 days, back on the ferry to Juneau for another 3 days and on to Haines. Visited Skagway via ferry from Haines. Enjoyed them all.
    Then on up to the Kenai River and Homer. Back home along the Alcan highway. Enjoyed every mile. No major problems. Love the Canadians. Great people. No problems what-so-ever.
    A couple years later we drove to Prince Edward Island and took the ferry to Newfoundland. Another very scenic adventure. But that is another story.
    I remember Rich saying “Son bought a boat and a pick-up to tow it.” At that time we had a place in KY on Lake Barkley and I remember telling him how for you to find it from the water. Sure miss his thoughts on all sorts of things. Really a good man.
    Always read your posts at least twice. Really like your choice of boat and motor. You didn’t say much about the motor. Honda is a great choice……in my opinion! Yamaha is good too. Les, just wonder if your overheat light could have been caused by what if was taught in pilot training as BMEP heating? Throttle setting with relation to prop/boat load. Our old Buick would get hot within about 10 miles while towing our ski boat. It would not shift down to pull the load.
    You two express yourselves so well!!! Know that the boat gets a little close sometimes but You must be very compatible and have a great love of each other to not grumble. Fantastic adventure. Enjoy while you can. Life passes so quickly.
    Thank you for sharing your adventure, thoughts and challenges.
    God speed and be safe.
    jim

    1. Hi Jim,
      Great to hear from you! Thanks for your encouragement. It’s pretty spectacular to be here in Alaska. We have thought of Rich often on this trip, knowing he would have enjoyed cheering us on.

      That is so cool that Lyle and Josh shared our adventure with you…it means a lot to have others share our joy. Feel free to comment any time 😊

      Les agrees the Honda has stood up to lots of travels. Thinking of you and yours…may God bless you greatly, Les and Kel

  2. Dear Kel (and Les)- I believe I am all caught up on your C-Dory/Alaska trip so far! Wow, you have covered a lot of ground (water)! It pleased me to read the origin of your boat’s name and I had to smile at how much it resonates–I am a very high ‘I’ person–intuitive, impulsive and impressionable. And married to a logic guy, of course.

    I said a small prayer for you just now and will continue to do so as you find your way back to the port.
    God be with you both.
    Warmly,
    Jody

    1. Jody-We are kindred spirits 😊 thank you for the prayers and we look forward to meeting you and your hubby later this year…we should be back in Seattle area around Labor Day weekend…we can let the logic guys talk shop while we wax eloquent 😘 I’ll send an email when we have more definite idea of our arrival back to Washington state 💗

  3. Oh my, Soooo many reasons to choose a C-Dory. All that you mentioned and more. Easy of portability, easy of handling, easy on the wallet, and easy to spot. They are great boats. And the C-BRATS is a great community of like minded (and sometimes not so) individuals with common interest and love for their so capable vessels. I consider mine a blessing from the get go, and it has been through some pretty rough waters with me; taken me through some places I should have known better than to get into, and it brought me out the other side. I have a small plaque with a boat prayer on it that is my prayer before I leave the dock every time, “Oh God, The sea is so great and my boat is so small, so go with us Lord, weather, foggy or fair, over reefs and waves and anywhere. Be the current strong or the trip be long. Please Lord, keep us in Your care.” I have seen incredible things from my boat, humbling and strengthening things, and the C-Dory is such a platform for exploration and for calm and tranquility even in a storm. I think your choice was a good one, and it looks like and sounds like you are thinking along that same line. Enjoy. Stay safe, and persevere. Harvey/SleepyC

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