Skip to main content

John Dory Boat Works founder passes away

David Finkelstein

David Finkelstein

David Finkelstein, who designed and built the John Dory line of boats, died earlier this summer.

Finkelstein started in the boating industry at age 14, working at Minneford’s Shipyard in City Island, N.Y. That was followed by a stint at Chris-Craft, where he assembled boats coming from the factory. After joining the military, Finkelstein was sent to West Point to teach cadets small-boat handling and navigation. He was later hired to service the New York State Police boat near Jones Beach, N.Y.

In 1960, Finkelstein leased land beside a marina in Brookhaven, N.Y., and established a boatyard that still exists. Stony Brook Boat and Motor offered a full lineup of marine services and operated a rental fleet. Finkelstein began to design and build fiberglass dories for anglers who wanted a sturdy, safe alternative to traditional wooden boats. He eventually started full production of the 12-, 16- and 18-foot boats for his new company, John Dory Boat Works. The line was named after an ancient goldfish called a dory.


The boats were sold through a network of national and international dealers and became a popular choice for rental facilities. The boats also were popular for bonefishing in the Florida Keys and Bahamas.

Admirers of the boats called Finkelstein an “admirably authentic American individualist.” He advised many naval architects, designers and other members of the boating industry.

In 1974, Finkelstein told The New York Times that he had an eight-man crew building 15 boats a week. “I could hire 30 more people and produce a hundred boats a week for dealers who are crying for them,” he told the paper. “But I would probably lose control over what is now a very happy and profitable operation. I don’t want to end up sitting behind a big oak desk.”

Finkelstein died July 2. He was 87. 



ABA Celebrates 30 Years

The America Boatbuilders Association was founded in 1992 with the objective of collectively buying engines, raw materials and manufactured products at better prices.


Who, Not How

Sometimes, to solve a tough problem, you need to get a different person in the room.


NMMA: Proposed Speed Rule an ‘Existential Threat’ to Industry

The association is calling on every marine brand, employee and boat owner to file public comment by Oct. 31 over a sweeping regulation to protect North Atlantic right whales.


Axopar and Nimbus Renew Agreement

The boatbuilders have entered an agreement whereby Nimbus Group will retain exclusive rights to sell Axopar boats on the Swedish market.


Hurricane Ian Leaves Devastation in Florida

The storm left a wide swath of destruction, heavily impacting marine interests from Tampa Bay to Marco Island.


Email Is Your Ticket to Holiday Sales

Developing an effective email campaign can bolster sales and help fill winter coffers at your dealership.


NMRA Presents Annual Awards

Edson CEO Will Keene and ComMar Sales president Tim Conroy were recognized for their contributions to the marine industry.


DEALERS: Are Interest Rates Impacting Demand?

This month’s Pulse Report survey asks dealers whether interest rate increases are causing a downturn in boat sales. Take the survey here.


EPropulsion, Mack Boring Partner with Crest

Pontoon builder Crest will use an ePropulsion Navy 3.0 Evo electric outboard motor and an E175 battery for its 2023 Current model.