"Week of the boats"
Wood is the word for classic McKenzie River craft
April 20, 2023 | View PDF
A lot of careful measuring, sanding, and fitting of parts for iconic McKenzie River drift boats is set to wind up this week. The work, part of a boat-building class led by Jason Hayes of Hayes Custom Wooden Boats, has been quietly underway at the McKenzie River Discovery Center. Once again, the week-long class was fully booked and this year the student craftsmen are expected to complete two traditional boats on Friday.
Fishing guides and wooden boat fans will gather also again on the opening day of the fishing season this Saturday. The annual McKenzie River Wooden Boat Festival will start at 10 a.m. on the grounds of the Eagle Rock Lodge in Nimrod. People who show up early will have an opportunity to watch a boat parade that had launched earlier from Finn Rock.
Other festival activities will include fly-fishing demonstrations, chances to talk with local river guides, and a great BBQ lunch served up by the McKenzie River Guides Association. The popular meal is a fundraiser for the free lifejacket program as well as boat landing maintenance and restoration.
That night, from - 5:30 to 7 p.m. - Brad Dimock will be a featured presenter at the McKenzie River Discovery Center’s Hatchery building at Leaburg Lake. Dimock, a Colorado River guide, river dory historian, dory builder, and teacher, is the owner-operator of Fretwater Boatworks in Flagstaff, Arizona. His talk will tie into the evening’s theme, “Spawning Grounds: It Started with this River,” and will be a show-and-tell of the links between the McKenzie, Rogue, and Colorado dories, including some of their history and tales of connections, exploits, and good humor.
In addition to Dimock, Spawning Grounds will feature a donation by Bob Hirt of the last known drift boat built by Woodie Hindman. Also on the planned program is Dr. Gordon Grant, research geologist and hydrologist for the USFS and courtesy OSU professor. Grant will speak about the area’s landscape hydrology and the suitability of the drift boat to this environment.
The program will be capped with a progress report of Discovery by Executive Director Shirley Braunstein and Board President, Gene Jones.