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May 27, 2011

Building a better Driftboat: time well spent

Back in early April I trailered home a new Pro Guide Driftboat kit by Boulder Boatworks.
Bare Polymer Hull
Finished Boat

While I’ve always wanted to build a wooden driftboat… and someday I will when it better suits my fishing needs. Years before I ever bought my NRS raft I began searching for a boat that was durable, quiet, and still retained the elegance of a driftboat’s lines… as a full time fly fishing guide I needed something durable and low maintenance above all else. Many guides here in Maine have been using fiberglass driftboats for years, and I explored those possibilities but never got on board. Then I ran across a picture of a beautiful drift boat built by a small company out of Boulder Colorado four years ago. There boats featured a light, durable, and quiet polymer hull, finished with ash ribs gunnels and trim. I began calling the guys out at Boulder and asking tons of questions about this new driftboat material. I called guides who have been using their boats for a few seasons and hearing very positive feedback. While talking the the guys at Boulder Boat works one day they mentioned a build it at home kit option they were going to begin to sell… I was sold. It wasn’t until late last winter I finally pulled the trigger sent them some cash and put my order in.

So early this May I began gluing wood,
Glued Gunnels
sanding ribs, epoxying wood, varnishing wood,
more sanding, more varnishing.
After the gunnel scarf joints were glued and all four gunnels were sanded smooth,
Traveling Gunnels
I dropped them off to the guys at New England Off Road in Westbrook, Maine to have the gunnels coated with Line-X. The guys at New England Off Road did an awesome job on the gunnels, and I’m very glad I choose this option and feel for long term durability it is the way to go, especially if you have a dog.
Gunnel rider
It took over a week and a half to get the finish to where I wanted it. Then began the fun part… building the Boat! The build up process took about another week and a half to juggle between days on the water, and rescheduling lost days on the water due to high water.

Mounting Exterior gunnel.
Install outer port gunnel
Clamping starboard exterior gunnel.
Starboard gunnel clamp into place
Setting the Rib ins:
Making the interior gunnel cuts was the most intense part…a short cut would be bad, very bad…
Bare Bow:
Finished Bow Dashboard, and fly deck:
Finished Bow
Guide tested, dog approved:
Hood Ornament
Of course there were fish to be caught during the build:

Brook Trout
Chris Loves Brook Trout
Brook Trout

Chris Loves Brookies
Got Lips?
Maine Smallmouth Bass
Spring Landlocked Salmon
Spring Salmon

Watching that bare hull slowly take the shape of a boat day by day was extremely rewardlng. I can honestly say my blood, sweat, and tears beers went into the building of this Pro Guide driftboat. I had some great help along the way, from my neighbors, my wife, my buddy Josh. The Biggest Thanks! goes to my friend Andrew, who put in a ton of time sanding, clamping gunnels, unclamping gunnels, theorizing, scratching heads, and getting it done. Check him out at Themadtrouter! I also owe a big thanks to the whole crew at Boulder Boatworks who were extremely helpful and supportive from delivering all the way through the build. Thanks Andy, Steve, and Chris for always taking the time to answer my questions no matter how busy you are. You guys Rock!

It was three weeks well spent, and now the real fun begins…

Who wants to Float a Beautiful Maine River?
Grab a seat before the dog beats you to it!

Andrew Looses his seat

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