Matthews Boat Co.
Open Bridge Double Cabin Cruiser

Year: 1931
Length: 38’
Draft: 3’
Beam: 11’
Displacement: 17,000 lb
Hull: Mahogany on White Oak
Engine: 1988 Westerbeke 100hp

About Dowager

Summer 2018

Dowager is 87 years old, and in spectacular condition thanks to a 2001 restoration.

This summer we plan to ship Dowager from Ithaca, New York to Seattle, Washington for cruising in the Pacific Northwest.

More Boat Specs

  • Fuel Capacity: 134 gal (2 x 67)
  • Freshwater Capacity: 150 gal (2 x 75)
  • Holding Tank Capacity: 40 gal (2 x 20)
  • Engine Hours: 416
  • Rebuild/Restoration: 1999 – 2001
  • Cruising Grounds: Inland Lakes
  • Hull No: 11247
  • Originally Known As: MV Balamina

Interior and Accommodations

2 Cabins, 6 berths: There’s a V-berth in the forward cabin, and the aft cabin has twin settees that convert to 4 bunks. The medicine cabinets with bevelled mirrors are original, and the interior linoleum pattern is the same as 1931, installed new in 2002.

Galley: The original icebox was retrofitted with a SeaFrost refrigeration system in 2002, and the original 3 burner stove was coupled with new propane system.

Heads: Dowager has 2 fully renovated heads, each with traditional Wilcox-Crittendon bronze and porcelain toilets, installed 2002. The shower has an Attwood 10.5 gallon hot water heater.

Dowager’s restoration was a collaboration between George Howell, an avid preservationist, and Dennis Montgomery the founder of Cayuga Wooden Boatworks.


  • completely refastened with Silicone bronze
  • new electrical and plumbing systems
  • all 132 white oak ribs replaced
  • new epoxy laminated white oak keel
  • new shaft log
  • new horn timber
  • new stem
  • new oak engine beds
  • new mahogany bottom planking on both sides
  • scarfed topsides planking to eliminate all butt joints above the waterline
  • new mahogany transom
  • new cedar tongue and groove deck planking
  • new canvass deck covering
  • museum quality restoration of living quarters


  • The Restoration of the Dowager was published in the 2004 Matthews Newsletter. By Don Pakkala.
  • This detailed account of Dowager’s restoration on the Cayuga Wooden Boatworks website has 4 years of photos of the project.
  • This fascinating article details the evolution of the Matthews Boat Co as it shifted from building custom to stock boats around 1925.

Dowager's 2013 and 2017 surveys.

Can You Spot the Difference?

Matthews sold two models of the 38′ double cabin cruiser. The top image on the right is a postcard we found years ago. The boat in the foreground is a 38′ double cabin cruiser that’s a slightly different model than Dowager.

Can you spot the difference? Dowager is in the photo below, also in the foreground.

The Difference is...

The boat in the postcard has an enclosed bridge deck, Dowager doesn’t.

We like the breeze on a hot day. Dowager has modern canvass & vinyl side windows that can be unrolled to keep the weather out.

The far boat in the photograph is the Mary Nan II, also a Matthews. This photo was taken some years ago at the south end of Cayuga Lake.