Thursday, December 15, 2011

Superfund site

A fine way to become conscious this morning: sipping espresso in my big chair, watching the birds going berserk outside, I finally noticed this little guy sitting in the tree over my mini-wetland. A Northern Pygmy Owl. Isn't he adorable? The damned Acorn Woodpecker gang finally harassed him too much to hang around anymore. You can see one of the kamikaze divers in the second picture.

I spent the remainder of the morning and some of the afternoon reconditioning and reaffixing the aluminum bumper on the outside chines. As usual, out of seventy-six screws, the last three took about half the time, three broken drill bits, two bleeding fingers, and some creative and deeply felt swearing. 

Then I rolled her over and impregnated the raw and traumatized wood of the interior with penetrating epoxy. I tried the ESP-155 for two-thirds of the boat, and Resin Research 2090 for the forward third. Perhaps I will see some difference. If I can ever uncross my eyes. Jeez, that stuff has got some fume action going on. Time to go up to the house.

Betty Boop is now hanging in the position shown, as I have a big patch inside one of the hatches kicking for the night. I think it is the damage from this:

This was a mighty wreck in July, 1983 when the river was running 80,000 cfs. Larry and gang were running the right side of Badger when this happened. Larry's leg was injured and he had to evacuate, but the boat stayed behind. A couple weeks later the water had dropped and Tim Cooper took this picture:

Poor, sad little boat. Tim said she was pretty full of sand. In the end, Gary Ladd told me, "It was pulled out by a very small helicopter after about 3 weeks on a nearly disasterous afternoon. Both the helicopter and the net that it used were too small."

Anyhow, I am doing a reinforcing patch on some traumatized wood right about where the boat looks to have hit that front, right rock. So many stories in such a small boat.

1 comment:

  1. Hello again from Ron's son, Peter. I am if seeing the dead rise back to the vigor of prime youth, to see what you have accomplished with the "Betty Boop". All you did is testimony to your dedication in resurrecting an important component of Grand Canyon Dory history. Dad is jumping in circles looking at what you have done, and I cannot imagine the thousands of hours, the complex problem solving and the sheer craftsmanship you have mustered to return the "Betty Boop" to her original state.
    It is compelling to hear you talk of the "archeology" of the craft as you pealed away the rotted hatches. If you did not already realize it, the hatches in the oarsman's foot well were not original. They came after Dad sold the "Boop" to Larry. Additionally, you correctly noted the level of the original boatman's seat: Dad built it lower than where you found it. Dad would have thanked you for realizing his prediction that brass screws were the only way to put her together, and he took a bit of shit for spending the extra money on those screws, which ended up saving you a tiny % of the reconstruction costs in the end. I am sure that our family would love to visit with you, your family and the "Betty Boop" some time. So, keep that in mind. I am currently seeking any other photos of the "Betty Boop", and there may be some in a box at my sister's house showing the dory in our Sylmar garage while under construction. You need to have these. Again, infinite thanks from Ron's family of river runners. All of his youngest daughter's (Heidi) three sons are river guides.
    Just a little FYI: Dad's very first river trip was down Glenn Canyon in 1963, just months before they closed the river off and filled Lake Powell. On that trip was Frank Hoover (quite a character, an old time Sierra Club Rock Climbing Section- RCS- member, and long-time biochemical researcher) Marvin & Ginger Stevens, also long time friends with a history in the RCS, and Vladimir Kovalik (designer of the "Havasu", "Miwok" and "Shishone" rafts, and later a key designer for Riken boats.
    Dad and Vlado started Wilderness World, Inc. in 1971 with permits to run the Stanislaus, American, Tuolumne and Klamath in Ca.; the Rogue in Oregon; the Main and Middle Fork of the Salmon and Hell's Canyon in Idaho; and a permit on the Grand Canyon. Dad took on running the Grand Canyon operation, while Vlado ran the rest. They started the Company with military rafts on many of the rivers, but on the Grand they ran a new fleet of Havasus: These boats leaked air like you cannot believe, and I recall pumping them up in the early morinig on ever trip with the frame slowly sinking into the river. It was standard fare to spend time puming them up at every major rapid on the Grand. And the original WiWo blue fiberglass frames offered zero tie down points...and they scattered to pieces when the raft wrapped. On such incident on the "T" left bits of blue fiberglass all along the length of the river.
    George Mancini (the guy who put the butterfly application on the bow hatch of the "Betty Boop"), was living at our Sylmar home in the early '70's, learning to weld. In '74 he started crafting frames for Vlado, and these soon ended up on all of the rafts. George, who was Henry Mancini's nephew, went on to become one of the most important white water frame designer/builders in the '70's. His aluminum break-down frames offered lots of tie in points, were light, and could fit into an airplane very easily, which is very handy on those low water Middle Fork fly ins.
    Again, unbelievable job on the "Betty Boop", and I hope you do not mind me adding some history to her life. AND the photos of her stranded on that rock pile on the right side of Badger are AMAZING. Rock On!!!