Tom Martin
  • Male
  • Grand Canyon, AZ
  • United States
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Tom Martin's Discussions

Boating in Hell Before The Dams
3 Replies

Started this discussion. Last reply by Stephen Blalock Mar 5, 2018.

From Powell To Power
3 Replies

Started this discussion. Last reply by Ants Uiga Jan 14, 2015.


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Tom Martin's Blog

The Book is Finally here!

The book that covers all the back story behind the 1950's Grand Canyon dory GEM has just been released!

It's called Big Water, Little Boats and included boat dimensions and almost 200 photos of historic Grand Canyon watercraft and river runners. The story included a recounting of a river trip on the highest water ever run in Grand Canyon, 126,000 second…


Posted on June 29, 2012 at 12:55pm — 3 Comments

The Story of the GEM

What better place then Woodenboatpeople could there be to share a never before told Grand Canyon McKenzie drift boat story and to share the construction of some remarkable replica boats?

Dave Mortenson has a permit for a Grand Canyon river trip with a 2011 launch. Who is Dave? Well, he’s hiked more of the north side of the river in the western Grand Canyon then most anyone alive, having been hiking there yearly since 1961. He first ran the Colorado River in Grand Canyon as a wee lad…


Posted on June 5, 2009 at 7:00pm — 13 Comments

Latest Activity

Tom Martin replied to Pete Weisbeck's discussion Wooden drift boat on the Green river advisable?
"Hi Pete, you will be fine on the water. Just keep in mind in the mornings there is a 15 minute load out limit on the ramp. We are trying to change that for folks who need more time, but it can be quieter if you launch in the afternoon. Bring your…"
Jul 3
Tom Martin replied to Lucas Rietmann's discussion Grand Canyon Dory Question
"Hi Lucas, what a GREAT boat! Thanks for the photo. Yes, of course you can deck this boat for the Grand or a lot of other rivers. To keep your seat location, you might add scuppers above your side hatches and then bail out your footwell loke Moulty…"
Dec 3, 2018
Stephen Blalock replied to Tom Martin's discussion Boating in Hell Before The Dams
"The Doing of the Thing. Buzz Holmstrom It is a good read, I have to dig out my copy and read it again. "
Mar 5, 2018
Tom Martin replied to Tom Martin's discussion Boating in Hell Before The Dams
"Hi Randy and Steve, Steve, pleased to meet you. I have the recountings of the SHOSHONE (1871-1872) and the NORMA (what a hoot that was) in 1895, but who was cruising through in small boats? There were a number of miners, surveyors and explorers who…"
Feb 9, 2018
Tom Martin replied to Pete Weisbeck's discussion I finally finished my boat....and it floats!
"Very nicely done Pete! You reminded me of the time I took my build to the local town lake, launched it off the trailer, and... by gum... it floated! Have a wonderful journey!!!"
Jun 13, 2017
Tom Martin replied to Elliott's discussion Decked boat designs
"Elliot, You are most very welcome. Roger Fletcher taught me that form follows function. Meaning, if you figure out what you want your boat to do (take the kids and enough beer to get them drunk... wait a minute, let me check that detail... no,…"
Mar 12, 2017
Tom Martin replied to Elliott's discussion Decked boat designs
"Hi Elliot, did you know the first Grand Canyon dory to cruise through the Grand Canyon was in 1955. The boat was a fully decked McKenzie hull under 16 feet long! How cool is that! I built a full sized replica of that boat and have taken it through…"
Mar 8, 2017
Tom Martin replied to J. Snider's discussion Quick repair kits
"Hi Gregg, could you provide a link to what you are thinking about? Thank you in advance, yours, tom"
Oct 1, 2015
Tom Martin replied to Mel Buchanan's discussion PFD
"Hi Mel, you may find a lot of variability in this. Not being a strong swimmer, and realizing I actually LIKE air, I get the most flotation i scan find, like the Extrasport UT5. This jacket has a lot of easy adjustability The small kayak vests are…"
Jul 18, 2015
Ants Uiga replied to Tom Martin's discussion From Powell To Power
"Well, congratulations to Tom for a job well done. At 532 pages, I have not finished the book, but I am slowly assimilating the material. I like history and the best examples come from well written sources (such as this book). Despite the impression…"
Jan 14, 2015
Tom Martin replied to Tom Martin's discussion From Powell To Power
"Hey Ants, i'll be interested to know what you think as you get into it. yours, tom"
Jan 11, 2015
Ants Uiga replied to Tom Martin's discussion From Powell To Power
"The book is in hand, the rain is falling outside, the red chair is comfortable and the priority for the day is set! Thanks, Tom! Ants"
Jan 11, 2015
JAY STRUGNELL replied to Tom Martin's discussion Who is driving this dory?
"Tom, I have e-mailed his craigslist ad to You, You may have to look in spam for it; if that doesn't work I have more ways to contact him. Jay"
Sep 22, 2013
Tom Martin replied to Tom Martin's discussion Who is driving this dory?
"Hi Jay, could you please connect this person and I? e-mail is and phone is 928-556-0742. Thank you! Yours, tom"
Sep 21, 2013
JAY STRUGNELL replied to Tom Martin's discussion Who is driving this dory?
"Tom, sorry, no help there, this man was rafting the canyon in the early 60's and gone to different waters by the late 60's. He has four oars that are about ten and a half feet and the shafts are very close to 21/2" in diameter!"
Sep 21, 2013
Tom Martin replied to Tom Martin's discussion Who is driving this dory?
"Hi Jay, no, it is a double ender with a transom. It sure looks like a McKenzie hull design. The year is 1967. Thank you for asking him about this!! Please report back, yours, tom"
Sep 21, 2013

Profile Information

Grand Canyon and Flagstaff
About Me:
I built a fairly acurate replica of the first Grand Canyon dory, GEM, and then wrote a book about it, Big Water Little Boats.
Boats I own:
GEM replica, Achillies 16ft, 18ft raft, IK, life jacket :>)

Comment Wall (22 comments)

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At 10:00pm on April 27, 2010, Rick Newman said…
Tom and Hazel, wow what a wonderful time getting to know you! I feel like I have known you forever. It was truly an honor to have the GEM be the first wooden boat I ever rowed. Your presentation brought back memories of past slide shows from friends past and tied together some more of the loose ends concerning canyon history. while I haven't been below the South Rim my studies of the canyon combined with you insights and history is a really neat feeling. Someday I'll get there. I have passed up many opportunities, I hope that I don't have to pass up any more. I'll send you the complete file of photos soon.

Your friend always,

Rick Newman
At 9:20am on February 4, 2010, Jeremy Christensen said…
Tom, looks like you had a fantastic trip! Loved the pictures. Well done.

At 9:26am on October 19, 2009, Brian said…
Thanks Tom. This boat has been a real pleasure to both float and rebuild. Through it (and Rogers book), I've learned so much local history. I love being able to drive up the Mckenzie and know the stories of the early guides and boatbuilders who first plied these waters. Besides the magic of being on the river, the history is really the second draw. I have been reading your posts and look forward to some journal entries and photos of you trip (trips).
All the best,
At 2:15pm on September 27, 2009, Matt Beach said…
Hey no problem Tom.... Rain has been holding the boat building process still. No inside building to store the boat so its all being built outside. A blue tarp is keeping it from the elements. Being so close to North GA, I thought I was going to have to flip it over, slap some tar around it and use it to get from place to place (finished or not). With the amount of backed up water and septic tanks empting out, there is a abundance of "brown trout" floating around now, so we are holding off fishing for awhile.
At 7:21am on September 24, 2009, Rick Newman said…
Tom, your boat is progressing really well. I am very envious of your trip and respectful of your efforts. Keep up the good work!

Rick Newman
At 6:26am on June 7, 2009, Rick Finnell said…
I used a Don Hill 10' mini drifter plan, duplicated the center frame and added 16" in length in center of the boat. I don't think it's from a old design.
At 7:51pm on May 17, 2009, Tom Martin said…
Hi Den, thanks for the encouragement! Good luck to you on your Rogue River Dory! Do you know Bigwater Bob Donovan, the Maine tree cutter? Small world, so i thought to ask.

IK = inflatable kayak...
At 1:18pm on May 17, 2009, Den said…
what is an IK?

Den in New Hampshire
What a great project!
At 11:46am on May 15, 2009, Tom Martin said…
Hey Rick, thanks so much for your support and encouragement. Hope you recover soon, and get a chance to do a little boat building yourself! Good luck to you too! Yours, tom
At 8:01am on May 15, 2009, Rick Newman said…
The boat is looking great. I can see that much hard work has been accomplished. I have been busy with some medical issues, now that they are resolved and the weather better I can get started on clleaning out the space for my boat build. Thanks for sharing your photos. Good luck with everything.

Rick Newman

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