I found this Dory in Moab in 2005 and dragged it home to SLC.  She was built in Salt Lake in 96 wood and glass, I believe a MacKenzie design for big desert rivers?  Correct me if I'm wrong about that.  She has run Deso, Westwater and various stretches of the Colorado many times.  We ran the main Salmon with my family last week and she handled unbelievably.  Unfortunately I followed the rafts into Ludwig without a proper look.  Missed the bottom slot and hit my bow ring pretty solid.  (pic included)  A little duck tape and she hardly leaked.  Getting ready for the Grand and would like suggestions for decking high and moving the rowers seat a couple inches forward?  Seems like it would feel better in big water.   What would Brad Dimock say "working on a Dory is almost as much fun as rowing one" or something like that....

Views: 918


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hello Mike, while it isn't the same as a rebuild you might want to look up Rob Grubb's process for decking an eighteen foot x 54" Mike Baker boat that he undertook a few years ago. The search function will help you find all the posts that Rob's name show up in. It was three or four years ago and show the process that he undertook to build the framework for and then deck his boat.

In response to where to place your rowers seat a lot will depend upon how you plan to load your boat. In other words; how many passengers, where will you put your cooler(s), what size coolers, propane tanks, dry bags, water, stove, beer, beer, beer, water etc. You can obviously shift loads to affect your trim. Beyond that I can't comment on your rowers seat final location other than keeping it at the designers intended location.

Once I pay for last years trip to row the Grand Canyon I am considering adding floatation to my 16' Tatman so I can feel comfortable rowing in whitewater if we ever get water in our western rivers again. Something like enclosed bow and stern areas and removable dry boxes for the rowers platform and the passenger seat. Robb Grubb also commented and provided some ideas in a post last year in regard to this idea.

Good luck;

Rick Newman

Mike, I think your dory and my old dory are long lost cousins. Mine was built in Salt lake by ""Riverwoods Expeditions" for Wester River Expeditions in Moab. The bow and stern cap pieces look almost identical... Mine was 17' 10" form bow to stern and 84" at the oarlocks.

Here are what my decks looked like. I hope it at least gives you some ideas for possible hatch configurations. It looks to me that the oarlocks are in the same position, about 12" behind the wides point of the gunwales. I also thought about moving them forward but never did, because it rowed so well. Good luck with the modifications.


Joe, can you you elaborate on your decking and dry box systems? I think you have a wonderful setup. I like your captains boxes. Do the bow and stern areas provide storage as well as floatation? I should have looked closer as I see some nice latches here and there. Apparently you have a pump system too. Your boat looks great!

Rick N

Here are a few more picts. I hope they help. The first is of the deck Hatch and the seat of the bow hatch. The bow and stern hatches are all open storage. I found the dory in very poor condition after years of neglect wasting away in the Western River Expeditions's yard in Moab. I sanded  the interior down and finished it with spar varnish. This hatch was the only one I modified. Making it around 6" taller and 8" wider(if my memory is correct) It holds a giant 178 quart cooler for multi day trips. That's a lot of weight just forward of the center line. It made for a heavy boat, but it was still more maneuverable than an 18' commercial row rig. 
In this view we can see the boatman's foot well and oarlocks. I am short, and still needed the oarlocks in the forward most position. The foot well was not self bailing, because I enjoy standing when I row. so, I had to bail it our with a bilge pump after each rapid. (not an electrical bilge, just a hand operated bilge from NRS.) Here is the starboard hatch (including the small "guide" drawer I installed. the guide drawer slid forward allowing access to the entire hatch opening.)  I would have chosen a flush hatch lid system had I built the decks, but the raised lids worked just fine and were probably much easier to build. You can see the 1" lip built up from the deck and on the lid i put 2 layers of gaskets to keep out water. 2 layers of gaskets worked quite well only allowing a few drops of water into the hatches, even after flipping in Lava.

As for adding buoyancy inside your hatches; certainly you can do it. However I never felt I needed it. not when i was upside-down in lava nor when I  smacked a rock and completely flooded the bow hatch. but, good luck with it.

Joe, thanks for the pictures and details. Very interesting. Gives me lots to think about. I wasn't speaking of adding buoyancy inside the compartments, rather using the compartments in the same way you do.

Rick N


Your boat and mine are more like siblings.  Mine was made for Western as well, worked for them 17 years in the Grand.  I like your stern drain and want to make a cock pit that drains forward and a bilge pump in the front right passenger foot well.  I like the spare oar set up.  What length oars did you go with?  Mine are 10,6" and a little heavy for the rower.  I fixed my bow post over the weekend.  First glass repair!  Oh and the Main.


The oars are 10'. I always wanted the spare oars to fit inside on the decking, but I couldn't figure a way to do it that allowed access to the side hatches. So i strapped them onto the rails and stuffed the blades into the stern hatch.

So here is a question for you; How badly weathered was your dory when you bought it from Western?

Originally, mine had oarlocks similar to the one you have, but they were completely dead with dry rot. as I picked one of them up, it crumbled in my hand. I had to completely sand down everything but the hatch interiors. Plus the hatch lids had no hinges or latches on them. I have no clue how they transported the dories without having the hatch lids fly off on the freeway.

So I found mine in Sept 05 and there was one other 16' left back there.  The oar posts are still original.  Guess I got lucky. It was pretty weathered but I finished the gunwales and they remained stained from rot.  It had all the hardware on it and all the latches worked.  A miracle.  I am planning to tear out the middle of the boat and deck it to within 6" of the rail, moving the rowers seat inches forward.  3 hatches, all large  2 in in the rowers cockpit(grand canyon style) and one possibly facing forward like yours, to fit a large cooler.  Did you add the drain in your rowers compartment and on the stern?  Also yes I have painstakingly refinished gunwales, interior and exterior a couple times.  last year with the grey marine epoxy,  holds up well..  

I first drilled small 3/4" holes hoping that would do the trick, but it didn't drain. I realized i needed something much larger.

so, I cut 2" holes in the corners of the decking and another set of 2" holes in the passengers foot well, at 13" above the floor. That did the trick. 3/4 of the water that landed on the decks ended up draining out on it's own. The rest I would bilge out. the biggest change was for the passenger. in big rapids the passenger's foot well would fill up completely. after cutting the drain holes they only had to bail the last 13" of water.

In my dory the stern hatch drained down onto the rower's decking. from there most of it would find it's way out through the drain holes and what was left fell onto my feet.


© 2019   Created by Randy Dersham.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service