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Building the Chub River Dory

A modern take on a Grand Canyon Classic.

June 18 – July 1
Brooklin, Maine
Brad Dimock
Experience Level
Activity Level

This is a two-week course ending on Friday

With the 2008 publication of Roger Fletcher’s Drift Boats & River Dories, these highly maneuverable shallow-draft boats have undergone a huge surge in popularity. Originally designed as fishing boats on Oregon’s McKenzie and Rogue rivers, river dories have found admirers on shallow fishing streams and whitewater rivers around the world. During the past decade Brad Dimock and his team at Fretwater Boatworks adapted the classic Briggs Grand Canyon Dory to several sizes with more contemporary proportions, from the 9’ one-man Doryak to the 15’6” commercial-sized Babe. They are incredibly stable and maneuverable, but more importantly, just plain fun. Fully decked with hatches, they can easily pack camping supplies for a whitewater expedition of a week or two.

This year we will be building the Chub River Dory, a 13’6” family-sized whitewater dory capable of carrying a boatman and three friends through some of America’s biggest whitewater. Students will be building the Chub as a traditional plywood-on-frame boat, but assembling it in the more modern free-form method without forms or strongback.

Brad Dimock has been building, rowing, crashing, repairing, restoring, and researching river dories in the Grand Canyon and the West for four decades. He’ll begin this course by having students loft the design and expand the frame patterns, then create the frames, transoms, and stems. You’ll also scarf together sheets of marine plywood into full side panels. During the first week, students will assemble the hulls, install chines and gunwales, and begin framing the decks and hatches. Week two will see the completion of the hatches, decks, a bilge system, a bit of fiberglass work, and paint. With luck, you’ll float her at the end of the course. The lucky winner of the lottery will take the Chub home for the cost of materials.

During the course you will gain the knowledge and skills to build your own Grand Canyon dory or open drift boat of any size. You’ll learn lofting, scarfing, fabricating parts, free-form assembly, and outfitting, as well as many arcane arts you’ll use along the way. Few fancy tools will be used, relying more on adaptation and improvisation. Brad will also discuss maintenance, storage, and repair.

  • Who is this course best suited for?

    This course is appropriate for students with some knowledge and experience.  Basic knowledge and use of hand tools is required for most shop courses.

    This course involves a moderate level of activity throughout the week including: standing and working sometimes throughout the day, some hand planing or sanding, working on group projects that require occasional participation.

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