1931 Matthews 38′

Open Bridge Double Cabin Cruiser

Length: 38’
Draft: 3’
Beam: 11’
Displacement: 17,000 lb
Hull: Mahogany on White Oak
Engine: 1988 Westerbeke 100hp 6 cylinder

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

About Dowager

Summer 2018

Dowager is 87 this year, 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.

Restoration in a Nutshell

  • 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

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

The Interior

  • 2 Cabins: The interior linoleum pattern is the same as 1931, installed new in 2001. The medicine cabinets with bevelled mirrors are original.
  • 6 Berths: The forward cabin v-berth sleeps 2, and the aft cabin has twin settees that convert to 4 bunks.
  • Galley: During the 2002 restoration, the original icebox was retrofitted with a SeaFrost refrigeration system and the original 3 burner stove was coupled with new propane system.
  • Heads: Two heads, each with traditional Wilcox-Crittendon bronze and porcelain toilets, installed 2002, each with 20 gallon holding tank and an Attwood 10.5 gallon hot water heater.


  • 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 image on the right is a scan of 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 Matthews Boat Co made two models of the 38′ double cabin cruiser. Their only difference was the enclosed bridge deck: the boat in the postcard has side and rear windows on the bridge deck. Dowager doesn’t. But unless you live in rainy weather, it’s nice having the open sides on the bridge deck. The shaded breeze coming through on a hot summer day is priceless, and when the rain does pour down, the canvass and vinyl windows easily unroll, zip snugly, and are watertight. 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.