I was wondering what hull you would choose if you had the choice?

To start I am posting this to all member of the group so they may also read your views.  As a person who has run the grand many times as a guide with 4 or 5 people in the boat I can see many reasons you and commercial companies choose the Briggs design.

What I was wonder was what you would choose for yourself.  After rowing and building a few boats, I like 16 footers.  Unlike many I want my boats to be as light as I can build them while keeping them solid.  I also don't like a boat which has too long of a flat spot.  For me they react too slowly.  I like a boat which spins more quickly but not so quick that a lateral hit will kick it around.  I hope to sell one of my boats at some point after my next Grand trip in a few weeks so I can build another.  

Having been around boat building all my life, I don't work completely from plans.  I use them as a starting point and then make changes with the idea of tuning the way the boat behaves to my requirements.  My plan is something like a 16 foot double ender with transom but with a little less rocker for about 6 foot near center.  Since I will add a transom dropping the bottom a bit I would curve the last 3 feet back up an inch or two to get the stern back to the original double ender line.

What do you row when you are not working?

This is really a discussion for all and I look forward to everyones input.

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Hi Larry, while Brad has run way more trips in the Canyon than I ever will, and can row circles around me, what I have seen is it "depends" on what you are doing. The big Briggs style Rogue's are gear and people haulers. They will not be as responsive as the smaller big rocker McKenzie's, that to me anyway, provide a much more fun ride. The 16 foot double ender that is 6ft wide at the oarlocks is a very stable craft to walk around on, and can be run through both big GC water as well as on the San Juan, Deso-Grey, Cat, the Yampa and other smaller volume water rivers.

The rafters among us will understand the difference between running a fully loaded 18 foot raft vs. a lighter loaded 16ft raft.

Our experience in the GEM, at 15 feet long and 6ft at the locks, was that lateralls wouldn't kick it around, but then, the boat is built like a tank, hence extra stability.

Larry, are you all packed? You must be one excited guy! Good luck sleeping for the next week or two!

All the best, Tom
I've only rowed the big heavy boats so I can't comment on the 16 footers. But here is a photo of my favorite boat to row.

(Its got some nice rocker, really sweet for technical water but runs the Grand just fine...though we call it the submarine in the big water)

[Myra] Built by Lonnie Hutson, Sundog Expeditions/ Salmon River Design

Myra --- that really has the look of what I am after. Do you know what the length is?

Is your new boat almost ready for water?



The photo of Vince running with one oar is something to hang on the shop wall. I know for certain a Briggs style boat is not for me. The 16 footer I built last summer is an open fishing boat and I am happy how it handles. With a few changes it will be close to the image of what Kelly posted.
Hey Larry,

I knew someone was gonna ask that, and darn it, I've forgotten. I'm gonna give a pretty good guess at 17'9". When I get the chance, I'll find out for ya. -The boat lives in Idaho.

Lonnie built a smaller version of this boat for a friend of his... oh! It looks so fun to row. If I ever get a chance I'll send a report.

And yeah, the Zizumara is getting close to water-worthy. The official launch date is March 27th!

Take care,
At the risk of putting words in Brad's mouth - an impossibility, I know - I think he would speak with favor of the the boat pictured. It's my 42 year old Mckenzie on the Rogue in Brad's hands during our commemorative run to christen Brad's re-creation of the Julius. I loaned the boat to Vince Welch, one of The Doing of the Thing co-authors, so he could join us on this special trek. I recall Brad being very impressed with the boat's capabilities, and in fact has chosen this boat type to build. Pictured behind Brad is Vince. Vince had some difficulty prying the oars from Brad's hands. The second photo is Vince sculling my old boat through Blossom Bar, having lost the starboard oar in the Horn. I took the picture, certain it was the last one before the boat became a pile of river debris. But Vince was able to maneuver the boat with one oar. He was impressive, and although he appeared very calm after beaching the boat just above Staircase, I noticed the water in the bottom of the boat was tinged with color and had a peculiarly familiar oder wafting from the floor. The sweet covey of boats on that trip (3rd photo) from left to right, were my old John Ostrem built Hindman boat, Rogue guide Bret Clark and his aluminum Rogue Special, the Julius, my 13-foot double-ender (re-creation of Woodie's first DE built in 1939), Ken Brown's 14-foot Mckenzie DE with transom, Andy Hutchinson built Briggs dory, and Jerry Briggs's aluminum Rogue Special. We tolerated the aluminum boats, especially with the company of Jerry and his wife, Barbara, and Bret Clark. I think the only boat type not pictured is the old McKenzie square ender. It was a hell of a trip, and we had opportunity, each of us, to drive each model. I know this doesn;t address your question, but it will cause you to salivate a bit.

My boat is too short at 14 foot for big water. On 2 occasions it kicked around on me when I wasn't on the oars. Now I know that I have to brace into the laterals to prevent it from swapping ends.

For me the 16 foot McKenzie with a big of a flat sections is my kind of boat.

I have all the food and spent the day loading dry boxes. One more pass to get all the fresh items and bread and it's time to start rowing.

A bit worried about having 4 wooden boats and low flows.
Well, as Tom said, it depends on what you're doing and where you're going. For Grand Canyon, for me, alone or with a crowd, I'd say a Briggs is as good as it gets. Even when running with one or two people, they are sweet in the big water. While they are a bit large and heavy for some things, they seem pretty tiny and insubstantial at the head of Lava Falls at a lot of water stages. But the Briggs really seems overkill on some of the northern streams--although I do like the speed, capacity and tracking that the flat rogue hull gives it. So for a long flatwater haul, like running the Green River from Dinosaur to the confluence of the Colorado--350 miles of mostly flatwater, I'd again lean towards a Rogue. They'll kick a full-rockered McKenzie's arse on the flats.

For all those fun little dancy rivers like the San Juan, many stretches of the Green, the Rogue, the Idaho rivers--I'd prefer something like my Hindman 16' double-ender with transom. I love the lightness and quickness. And a decked over version of that would be a blast in Grand Canyon--with the exception of a couple spots in big water. And now that I am well past peak testosterone production, those few spots--Lava in big water, as mentioned above, Granite Falls at high flows--take precedence over having a light, quick boat. For comfort and ease of mind in Grand Canyon at medium to large flows--gimme a Briggs.

But I guess part of that preference is that I have rowed well over 100 Grand trips and scores of upper basin and northwest river trips in a Briggs. I've lived in, on, and occasionally under a Briggs for the better (best) part of thirty-some years. To me, a Briggs is home and security and happiness. I must confess my bias.

I do enjoy running different types of wooden boats in Grand Canyon and elsewhere--I've run a Nevills Cataract boat, a Powell boat, a sweep scow, three trips in the Holmstrom lapstrake replica, many different dory styles, and, with the notable exception of the scow, they were all great fun. (You wanna have a thrill, run sweep oar on a Powell boat through Grand at 20,000. 22' long, 4' wide, two crewmen with 8' oars, and a 13' sweep oar off the back. Wow--that's the most fun I've ever had in a wood boat.) The Holmstrom boat was super stable for a little thing and really responsive, but with little 8' oars you're always in first gear. Hard to make the big hard mighty pulls. Same is true for a Nevills. And I do plan to build many more replicas and run them through, even though I'll scare myself in a few places. I think the Galloway is going to be a real dog, but I've gotta know what it's like! And I may mess around with some dory lines and see what I come up with, but I honestly doubt I can make much of an improvement over a Briggs. A lot of folks have tried, and no one has done it yet. They're magic.

Have I equivocated enough?
Exhibit A: Why I don't think a Briggs is too big for Grand Canyon. This is me a few years ago at Lava (Coby Jordan photos). I got thrown bodily from the boat on entry, about the time picture #1 was taken. Scrambled back in for picture #2 and threw a rib-splitting high-side before picture #3. And was lucky enough to have my left oar remaining in picture #4 to bring the boat around for the kahouna waves at the bottom. (Right oar broke in picture #1) I was 25 years younger then, and stronger, and quicker, and braver (dumber?) and still glad to have all 17'5" of a Briggs beneath me. Or near me at least!


Larry, your dream boat sounds like a fun boat to row. I'd love to try it out! Jerry Briggs was working on a smaller version of his Grand Canyon boat at one time, but don't know if that ever reached fruition. It might have been pretty close to what you're after.

Roger-- Good to see you! How you been?

And I think the Myra is pretty close to a standard Briggs, no?
Yup, Myra is pretty close to a briggs in terms of how its handles. I didn't build it, so I don't know the exact specs. Its a nimble people hauler.

If I were gonna build a second boat I'd either build a Myra or a Mille Crag Bend. :)

Good grief, Brad! Now I understand your bad hair days! I'm on my way back, thank you, and I'm delighted you have engaged the forum. You add much. Now about that muddy water - naturally muddy, or was there an evacuation of another kind when you left the Skagit that day? Har. Har.
I vote for the bigger boat too. Here is an example of why:

These photos are from Barney taken from atop a baby J. The pics are a bit blurry as he said that he could barely hold on to the camera due to what he was looking at.

(1)Mary and her briggs at Horn Creek rapid. She had just dropped through the horns and got buried by the first big curler.
(2)A lone passenger still highsiding. -the rest of us were long gone.
(3)2 people had epic swims the rest of us were a-o-kay.


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