Friday, November 2, 2012

Betty Boop's back

Marieke, Betty Boop's new owner, let me take her downriver on a test run in September. Holy cow. What a sweet boat she is. I can honestly say I've never rowed anything lovelier. Here she is at Lee's Ferry. Jim Hall brought up Betty's old traveling mate Tatahotso, to see her off. Gary Ladd, Tatahotso's original owner and a man who has known Betty Boop for more than forty years, came to add his good wishes (and take the Tat for a spin).

Betty held two passengers really well. Gary Ladd's idea of handles for a rear rider were enormously popular.

She carries a tremendous load as well

And rocks out in the rapids

And has a really cute butt

Billy and I are taking time out to repair the guitar with boatbuilding supplies. It took us three tries to get it right wrong. But Billy swears it plays better than ever now. We call our new business the No Account Luthiers.

The Lava Falls team took her out in the eddy the night before for a couple practice flips. Just like when we tried her with a minimal load this spring, the high arched turtle-decks make it almost impossible for even one person to get atop her before she rolls up again. She just hates to be upside-down. 

She made it through Lava just fine, surviving the trip without a ding. What a fine craft she is, at 45 years old. Betty's only drawback is she is not set up for sleeping, but a new deck arrangement could fix that. I reckon we'll be building a few copies of this hull style shortly.


  1. Words cannot express the gratitude I have in seeing the "Betty Bop" fully restored and back on the river. Dad and I loved that little boat, and we spent endless hours hand-fashioning every little bit of curved wood into her hull and decking. The harpoon came from Ahab the Whale Chaser, because Dad always felt in both harmony and in battle with the rapids he navigated back in the 60's. Dad, river guide Ron Hayes, passed away Oct. 1, 2004, but his spirit will always sit at the oars of the "Betty Boop", and I have little doubt that you may have felt his spirit pulling with you as you sat in the same volume of space he'd occupied over 40 years ago on her Maiden voyage. From the Hayes Family to all of you, Thank You! And, may the "Betty Boop" always take care of the people she carries. Peter Hayes

  2. Nice Brad, thanks!

  3. Marieke,
    I have come across some old photos of the Betty Boop, and will send you copies if you send me your address. You can reach me at
    She was such a beauty in her youth, glad to see her riding the waves once again! Someday, I would love to take a ride....through a rapid or two....Heidi Hayes (Ron's daughter)

  4. Brad - I'm catching up on your older blog posts and noticed.... the nice Fretwater visor. Ooolala! Do you still have any more available?

  5. Those visors aren't for sale. You have to spend a week or more in the shop to get one. But I do still have some...