Building a drift boat...Step 0

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by Oldtoy, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. I have received the green light for my drift boat build. I have been mulling over what plans to buy and what style I wanted for the Yakima. Having never used a drift boat, I just read and read and read other peoples opinions. My initial thought was to go with a high side Mckenzie style because of the white water capabilities. Having rethought my actual use of the boat, it seems to make more sense to go with a low profile. Reasons for why I think a low profile makes more sense for me: less wind resistance (I live in Ellensburg), easier access for my 5'2" wife, and low amounts of white water.

    These are the plans and I have already ordered them. I am having a but if buyers remorse because I got so excited that I made a snap decision and switched from my original high side to a low profile.

    My question: was my change from high to low a good one foe the Yakima river where this boat will see 95% of it's action?

    Thanks, and sorry for any misspellings or confused chatter (I am posting from a phone).

    Cheers, Kevin
  2. I have seen a lot of low profile boats on the Yakima, a lot of high sides on the Yakima and an increasing number of catarafts/rafts. There is a gent here that goes by PT who has a partial drift boat build kit for a boat he's not got around to building. Might be worth a PM to PT and see if what he has can fit your needs in a win-win arrangement. Regardless of the boat you choose, use it safely as often as you can!
  3. OT, I've responded to your PM, but to your specific questions here, I'd say it matters very little. The difference between the "high" and "low" sided Spira plans are a couple of inches.

    I built, as you know, the Ozark plan. It is still PLENTY deep for my needs at least.

    Wind resistance IS an issue. The extremem rocker of the boats make them very prone to spinning easily in the wind. If I had to do it all over again, I would take several inches of rocker out of the boat.

  4. The continuing issue with both high and low-side boats is safety - yes, people on this board have reported the flipping of their rafts (still can't figure that one out on the Yakima) but overall, from a safety perspective, flat-bottom McKenzie-style boats are more prone to sinking by dipping a rail than inflatables. Yes, an oarsman's skill means a lot, but the oarsman has to continually watch where the front & rear angler are positioned on the boat. I've owned glass boats, and made the switch for not only safety but performance. On a low gradient river like the Yakima, most any design works - but then you've limited yourself to one type of water.
  5. I built my db out of Roger Fletcher's "Drift Boats and River Dories", a great book on the history and building of drift boats. Also check out the forums and photos on (if you haven't found them already) and, covering framed boats and stitch and glue respectively.
  6. If 95% of the boats use is to be on the Yak, build for the Yak.

    I would second the suggestion on less rocker. The more rocker you have, the bigger waves you can handle. But, there is a price for this. It will mean more draft (boat below the waterline). This can make it harder to get down the river in the lower flows of spring and fall (my favorite times). And really, are there any parts of the Yak that need more than a flat bottom boat can handle?

    Alex MacDonald and JesseCFowl like this.
  7. Thanks for all of the input guys.

    One thing I have learned in my short 26 years of existence is to set realistic goals and find compromise with what my wants are and what my needs are. Of course, I would love to have all of the glamor and dazle of a high class wood drift boat, but I am not willing to put that amount of time, or more importantly, money into this project.

    I hate to burst any bubbles, but, I am not out to spend 500 hours on this boat. I am not going to build a floating cabinet. I am not going to be concerned if I am off by 1/32" on a cut (1/16" is my breaking point:D). I am not building a show boat or plan on entering it in a parade.

    Now, do not think for a second that I will cut corners or just throw this thing no no. I will take time and think things through, I am just not going to build an interior that will be shown on the cover of Sunset Magazine with a middle aged couple drinking wine while paddling down a gentle stream. I am building a boat that will be used for fishing and the occational camping trip.

    That said, I have begun construction - nothing major just the strongback. I am seeing where the pitfalls are with the Spira plans, but the literature that is provided online seems to fill the gaps enough. You may be wondering why I have brought up the issue of pitfalls this early, well, before I could put the legs on the strongback, I needed to first know where the ribs would be placed. The drawings are a bit confusing on the spacing, but I figured it out and now have a strongback with no obstruction issues with the future placement of the ribs.

    I will post photos as soon as I have progress worth a photo.


  8. I have built a few wood boats, all drifters. I designed my own set of plans for the water I would be using the boats in, and the one thing I have learned is that there is no perfect design. That being said, the last one I did had a compound rocker to keep it high in the water, and more rocker in the stem and stern to keep it wave stable. I also incorporated a slight "v" in the bow to reduce wave slap that wood boats are so prone to. All of them have been 15 feet long OAL glass over wood with no framing, dry weights were under or right around 200lbs. The one thing you need to be dead on with is the chines need to be symetrical, or it will track poorly, especially at anchor. My two cents.
  9. I have been hammering on this thing for a few weeks now. I will post up some pics when I can, but, let me say now, that the Spira International plans are thin...things are turning out, but not without alot of head scratching before making a move. I guess I cannot complain, I get what I pay for.

    I am super excited though. I have the frame almost complete and should get ply on it this weekend. Hoping to have it ready for winter river duck hunting!


  10. Quick update: the frame is almost complete and the ply is leaning against the wall. I will snap a few shots tonight when I get back from work. I hope to get the ply on it before Christmas but could see it being after the new year.

    Cost to date including all of the screws for the entire build (minus interior) is around $200. I will still need to order the glass and epoxy and that will be another couple hundred. Goal for finished build is before the baby shows up. I will provide a detail cost list later on.
  11. Looks good... you're making progress.
  12. I have been told that I work like a pig. After seeing these photos I realize how true it is...:)
  13. last one for now. my interior concept.

    View attachment 46454

    I wish that I had more time to work on this thing...
  14. Happen to know how much rocker the bottom has, and how high are the sides?
  15. I went off of the Yukon Plans verbatim if that helps. I am out of town but will take a look when I get home this weekend.
  16. "...yes, people on this board have reported the flipping of their rafts (still can't figure that one out on the Yakima)..." Flipped their rafts??? WTF? I can't even try to figure out how Mumbles could have pulled that one off:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::clown:

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