Friday, May 2, 2014

McKenzie River Boat Festival 2014 (Part 2)

Boat nerds take a step back for a second and let the airplane nerds step in. I couldn't help but stop on our drive to the hot springs on Friday evening to check out this little grass strip just off the road.

It was really a well kept place. The runway was mowed and the tie down tires had functional tie downs.

The overcast was a bit prohibitive and aside from some almost fresh tracks on the field the place was deserted.

It sure would be fun to fly into though.

Saturday Morning

means the boat parade. If your planing on coming out to the festival; own a boat and have the ability to row class 2 water you need to be in the parade. I have never seen so many wooden boats on a whitewater river anywhere else, the more the merrier!

Not only are the sheer numbers fun but during the parade and festival boats only native to this area as well as stranger fish that really only belong on big southwestern rivers come out to play.

An example is Vince Welch's Music Temple. A boat built around the McKenzie for Martin Litton and his company on the Grand Canyon. I think Vince said that Music Temple was hull #7.

We had at least fifteen boats on the water, i know there were a few more but the count from my pictures is fifteen. Lea shot some of these from the bridge at Fin Rock.

From Fin Rock to Eagle Rock Lodge and the festival grounds takes an hour plus-ish. Its a great float and for the first time this trip the rain decided to lay off a bit.

With the parade pulling into the beach at the lodge everyone chipped in to help pull most of the boats up the bank and onto the beautiful lawn of the lodge.

It takes some doing but after a bit all the boats that want to be up are up. Then fishing and boat nerds alike can check out things in more detail.

To all fisher people out there i have a disclaimer, "I like fishing, I'm not in like with fishing." So my passion for these boats is primarily in their whitewater functionality. I was drawn to the Grand Canyon boats as well as the Outdoor Ventures boats. I am not saying there is anything wrong with fishing or boats set up for fishing i just prefer to be rowing rapids than parked and fishing except when i'm parked and fishing. 

With that said most of my photos are not of the fishing boats. If you want more on the fishing boats check em out here here.

I wish i had had more pictures of the above boat. Sapele and Ash no plywood anywhere on her. An amazing boat.

My buddy Ben Kahn built this board and baton boat. She is a replica of one of the first boats really designed for whitewater river use.

Here is Mike Baker of Baker Wood Drift Boats and i discussing the finer points of the IRH design.
The opinion on her was split some people really understood what i was trying to do with the design, others scoffed, and some had no idea what to make of it.

I think these dogs got the idea. Just because its small don't underestimate it. Well in their case...

Mike is doing some cool things with his boats. Check out this gunwale detail. The frame is cut off then the insert is installed on top of it. This lets you drill for the gunwale bolt strait instead of trying to get it through the end of the frame. Plus it looks sweet.

I also really liked his brass drain plug.

The Music Temple is in a league of her own. This boat has the patina that you can only get by baking, bashing, and surviving countless trips down the Grand Canyon. Thank goodness she is being cared for someone as passionate as Vince Welch.

I wish this boat could talk. I would love to sit and listen to the endless river stories hidden in her soul.

From the beefy oar locks to the battered and well repaired stem shes is easy to fall in love with.

The self bailing rowing foot well must have been one of the first. Just don't drop anything important down the hole.

The Flavell II is a replica built by Craig Wolfson. i'll spare you the complete details but they can be found at this link to Historic River Boats Afloat. I don't want to down play Brick Mortenson's original Flavell II but i can't imagine she looked this good especially after getting off the canyon. This Flavell II got off the Grand Canyon in March 29, 2014. 

The dry storage is removable, the boxes unlatch and lift out.

The last two boats are Robb Grubb's boat (below, red and white), and William Blair's Boat (green and black) of Outdoor Ventures. Both of these boats are beautiful.

After the event William, Robb, Craig, Kevin and i headed downstream to finish off the run. Below the festival grounds there is only one rapid of any consequence, Martin's. I had a great time following William around the eddys and other features of the lower river leading up to Martin's.

When we got to Martin's i followed William through the entrance. Once i had a good picture in my head of the rapid i cut hard left and hopped  into a eddy. The IRH responded beautifully, made a text book typewriter move and before i knew it i was watching Kevin, Robb, and Craig come through a great big set of waves from a classy little eddy.
It felt fantastic. I was able to run all the rapids on the McKenzie from Olallie to Helfrich, and the great line in Martin's made up for the bad one in Fish Ladder the day before.

That night brought more rain, i was able to snap these just before bed. The last night is always bitter sweet. I would have loved to stay longer boat more, get redemption on Fish Ladder, and possibly even wet a line. I guess it'll wait till next year.

Sunday Afternoon

we got back to the house and started the long process of drying out.

Its been a week were finally dry, have gotten our dogs back from their Grandparents and another river trip is in the can.

I'll be doing some more training on the Sol Duc and Elwah with Morgan and Olympic Raft and Kayak, we might even put the first raft through the former dam sight rapid. Stay tuned...

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