Hello Everyone,


My name is Guy and this is my first post in this forum.  I am here because I want to build a wooden drift boat and, undoubtedly, I will occasionally need advice of the pool of experts and experienced drift boat builders on this forum.


In preparation for this project I have read and studied three books: Drift Boats and River Dories by R. L. Fletcher, Boatbuilding with Plywood by G. L. Witt, and Covering Wooden Boats with Fiberglass by A. H. Vaitses.  I have also developed my own set of construction plans based off of the "Original McKenzie Double-Ender with Transom" in Fletcher's book.  I used and MS Excel spreadsheet to calculate all of the dimensions, cut angles, compound angles, and bevel angles of all frame components and I used Pilot3D software to calculate the as-cut dimensions of the plywood sides and bottom.  At this point I am pretty comfortable with the mechanics of construction and I think that I am just about ready to start purchasing lumber.


Presently, I plan to use Meranti Hydro-Tek plywood; 1/4-in. on the sides and 1/2-in. on the bottom.  I found plenty of places to purchase these materials, but they are all far away from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and as a result shipping costs more than the materials.  Are any of you aware of a business within a few hundred miles of Idaho Falls that sells this plywood?  I have a few requests in to the local lumber companies, but I have yet to talk with someone who has heard of this material before.


I also plan to use Port Orford Cedar (CVG) for the straight frame sections and White Oak (quater sawn) for the bent frame sections (chine logs and sheer rails).


Thank you, Guy

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Some more cleaning on the hull. And I removed the carpet stapled to the ceiling to expose some beautiful mahogany. It’s looking like I need to replace all the cross frames and even add a few more. 

I’ve removed the splash trim and deconstructed the foredeck. The plywood on the deck was rotten along some of the edges. And all the seams along the deck were loose, which is how water gets in where it shouldn’t. 

You are doing a great job!


I’m removing the exterior chine cap on both sides. The chines and the chine caps run the length of the Martinac, about 24 feet. On this boat the bottom plywood meets the side plywood along the these chines. The chine caps provide nothing structurally, but the do help seal this parts of the hull. Basically the chine caps are strips of molding bedded in marine sealer. 

I’ll clean out all the old sealer and scrub these seams with a wire brush. Everything will be bathed in penetrating epoxy seal before it goes back together. I’ll also have to scarf-in some strips of plywood here and there and make sure the bottom and side plywood are securely fastened to the chines. Lots of detail work. 

How I came to buy the Martinac. Since buying the Chris Craft in November 2019 I spent a lot of time on the internet learning about boats and finding boat parts. And I’ve become very interested in older wooden boats. I was searching on eBay last summer and I saw the auction for the Martinac. There are no shortage of old boats for sale but usually they are very far away from southeastern Idaho. The Martinac was in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the same area I bought the Chris Craft. I was the only bidder on the Martinac at $2500. So I made the 1000 miles round trip and brought it home to Idaho Falls. 

I have to admit, the Martinac is in much worse condition than I hoped. But the bones are solid and it can be saved. The worst is behind me. But there is still more work ahead of me than behind me. 

You are moving along an exciting path. Discovery and exploration leading to knowledge and new experiences. I believe you will have a great adventure filled with lots of sanding, filling, painting repeated frequently. However at the end of the journey you will have a fine watercraft and a ton of knowledge. Good luck on the process!


Thanks Rick. At the end I’ll either have a nice boat party or a nice bon fire party. : )

You will have a nice boat. I have never seen you do anything that wasn't first class!


Martinac. I was told by someone who has spent a lifetime building and restoring wooden boats that the design of this construction is pretty poor. He said there are too few bottom frames (side to side), the bottom frames that are there are too small, and the stingers (front to back) should not interfere with the bottom frames. 

I’m in the process of following his suggestions. 

The back six bottom frames will be replaced. Additional frames will be added between the existing frames. And the stringers will no longer cut into the frames. I’m still not sure if I will remove the stringers and replace them with battens (side to side). And I have to decide how to attach the engine stringers which are 4x5 inch mahogany. The transom will be strengthened and I may lay a new chine next to the old chine on the back half of the boat. 

Martinac. I did some sanding on the sides of the hull. It’s looking pretty good. I think the next task is to purchase some wood and start making the repairs. I’m not sure when I’ll do that. Maybe the spring. This winter I’ll focus on the Chris Craft. 

I’m back working on the Chris Craft. I’ve decided to apply a layer of fiberglass to the inside surfaces of the planks. 


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