Thursday, April 12, 2012


I'll be heading downriver in the Julius in a few days. A few loose ends before I go. We finished up the Julius's fittings the other night, including the fancy non-original highly-inauthentic side boxes. But they sure will make life easier on a commercial trip, giving me simple, handy stowage and preventing full swamping of the cockpit.

And a floorboard with a highly inauthentic emergency feature:

After extensive testing of the new floor's features, I felt pressed to show Will, who is planning to do a bit of boating in the Julius, just how it is done:

Liam called from Prescott, wanting to bring his dory up for a little consulting. When I got home the craziest thing was in my driveway--the boat, not Liam. 

It is a very cool Pritchett classic Rogue River boat, built a while back from Roger Fletcher's plans. Man, does it look wildly different than the Colorado River style boats I have been working on for the last long while. Low sides, radical flare, and the truncated motor-mount stern. Liam was wondering about decking her over for Grand Canyon but we soon figured out that the oarlocks are four inches lower than the Briggs boats, which are almost too close to the water already. We imagined what would happen if you drove it up the face of a big Grand Canyon wave with that crazy stern. Quick and ugly, that's what it would be.

The wood fairy stopped by while I was out of town last week. This is a load of Modesto Ash from Southern California. My friend Jim McKenzie brought it by from his friend Don Seawater, who has a mill in San Luis Obispo. Last time Jim brought Monterey Cypress. Before that, sycamore. All of these woods are fascinating, but fail to show up in the books about structural properties of wood. Makes it more interesting. This Modesto Ash, which is the same species as our local Velvet Ash, looks great. We'll see how she works after a summer in the drying loft.

I went out on a training trip for AzRA a couple weeks ago, blathering to the new young boaters about all the stories I think I remember. Here is a shot of the mysterious "boat" near Nankoweap. It appears to have been the skeleton of some sort of fabric boat--canvas? animal hide? Hard saying. It has some round manufactured nails in it so it isn't ancient. Most likely some prospector wandered into the area in the 1900s, failed to strike it rich, and left this under a ledge in case he came back.

And lastly, here is a shot Lora took of us shopping for our Glen Canyon float. I seem to be dressed as the entire cast of Gilligan's Island.


  1. Gonna be decking out a Rogue River Special from Rogers book here in the next few weeks. Not sure if it will ever see the grand but... The low oar placement has had me bothered for a while. Any ideas on how to get 4-6" of lift on them? I would like the clearance and the leverage. Any hoo, keep up the good work.

  2. I guess I would say what I said to Liam--I think that boat is built to low to the water to be a Grand Canyon boat--it will be awash most of the time and hard to row. Even if you raise the locks, the gunwales are way too low. That boat is designed and built for something like the Rogue RIver, where being that low is not a problem and decking is superfluous. It would be like trying to teach your cat to bark. When Briggs redesigned the boat for Grand Canyon he raised the sides. I would say keep the RRSpecial as an open Rogue, and if you want a decked big-water boat, build one with high sides. It would be easier to build a new hull than to try and raise the sides on an already-built boat. And decking is just extra weight, expensive and time-consuming to build unless you are building a big-water boat, which this is not.
    How is that for unhelpful?

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    2. I figured as much. I have already been thinking about the next boat. I have learned a lot about this type of construction and there are many things that i would like to do differently. I think i would like to copy a Grand Canyon boat. Do you know of any that need a copy made for any reason? (something in the modern plywood era)

  3. It seems like most of the pre-Briggs plywood classics have been replicated by Mortenson, Martin, Hatten, and Dersham--with their Reilly, Fulmer, and Steele boats. And they are truly transitional boats that are not necessarily great Grand Canyon hulls. I don't have the Betty Boop / Mabel T lines in a usable form yet, which is another early Steele hull which Ron Hayes raved about in terms of maneuverability. Maybe this fall on that.
    Maybe it is time to design your own?