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Building the Grand Canyon Dory

A captivating two weeks with craftsman, historian, and author Brad Dimock.

Tuition: $1275 (two-week course)

Note: Previous woodworking/boatbuilding experience is required for this course.

Decoy carving photo

Today’s Grand Canyon Dory is based on Jerry Briggs’s 1971 Oregon design, a modified Rogue River drift boat. His prototype, named the Emerald Mile, is subject of Kevin Fedarko’s best-selling book of the same name, chronicling the fastest trip through the Grand Canyon. The popularity of this unique whitewater dory has exploded in recent years, with many variations in style. Nearly all, however, are based on the venerable Briggs design. They are at their best in moving water, and are highly maneuverable in small riffles to giant rapids.

In this exciting two-week boatbuilding adventure, students will loft the lines and build from scratch the classic 16′10″ Briggs dory. You will learn all the techniques necessary for constructing boats of this style. There will be plenty to do for all participants! It will built as a traditional plywood-on-frame boat, but assembled in the more modern free-form method without forms or strongback. Students will create the frames, transom, and bow post or stem. You’ll also scarf together sheets of plywood into full 17′ side panels and floor. As the hull goes together, students will install chine logs and interior and exterior gunwales.

Decoy carving photo

This boat will have six hatches and seating for four passengers plus an oarsman. As a result, the interior joinery to accommodate this arrangement will take time and skill. The frames for the bulkheads, decks, and hatch lids will be built and installed. All seams will be sealed with fiberglass tape and resin. The creation and installation of the fore deck, amidships decks, and aft deck, bulkhead, seats, and floorboards all follow suit. As the course approaches the finish line, and if time permits, paint will be applied. With a little luck, you’ll launch her on Friday evening prior to the weekly lobster bake. And the lucky winner of the Friday raffle will get to take this beauty home for the cost of materials.

I would recommend WoodenBoat School to anyone. I loved the warm and friendly atmosphere and social interaction with other students.”
W.K., Cownsville, Maryland
Thanks to Brad Dimock I made some beautiful oars that I would never be able to buy anywhere. He’s a top-notch instructor who is very knowledgeable and fun to be around.”
B.F., Solomons, Maryland
The experience exceeded all hopes and expectations. Your entire staff were kind, considerate, and very helpful. I wish I didn’t have to leave.”
B.P., Greenwich, Connecticut