Make the McKenzie Connection!

Boat building 101 

Over the past twenty-five years, Jason Hayes has produced a specialized craft - the McKenzie River Drift Boat. How many? “Too many to count.,” Hayes says. “I lost track a long time ago. Somewhere between 70 to 80 boats.”

Besides his own work, he’s spent time educating others, including local youth at McKenzie High School and other wood shops to expose and educate the younger generations about the design now known around the world. “I want to help bring up the next generation and the history here,” Hayes says.

This week in the old hatchery building at the McKenzie River Discovery Center, he was surrounded by a team eager to learn the ins and outs of the craft while constructing two boats from scratch. The group of participants gathered from across the nation to participate and learn from Hayes.

“This is art; it’s art by an engineer,” was the way George Sheldon, an economist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from Maryland, put it. As he admired and curves and details put into each boat he added, “It isn’t just measurements, Jason has to eyeball his work.”

Food for the week-long class was provided by Jon Payne, Shelly Pruitt, and the Vida Café, who were all glad to support the group as they successfully completed the boats in their all-day work sessions.


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