We camped at Nehalem Falls Campground over Memorial day and on Saturday morning I jack-knifed the trailer and slid the boat down the Beaver Slide. I was fearful at first, but with the exception of some green bottom paint on the rocks at the bottom of the 100' bank slide, all went well. My friend Dave went along for moral support and did a little fishing, as well. The drift to Roy Creek boat ramp was slow going. Locals said the water was at Winter levels, but there still was not much water in the river. The only challenge was the first little rapid where you go left. My friend Dave helped me set up way to the right and we were not perfectly aligned, so we scraped bottom a bit because I was staying so far back from the flow that I was in the shallows too much. It took 4 hours and I had to row downstream in several places. The boat sticks so well that with the slightest breeze up river I would sit still with no movement at all. I realized how small a 13.5' boat really is. Not much room to move around, but for the lower Nehalem I can't imagine anything larger going down the river. Dave showed me how to pull plugs and just row enough to go back and forth across the river. It took very little effort to stay stationary. We noted many holes to fish for Chinook in the Winter. Dose anyone know how much higher the river gets in the Spring melt?

Sorry to take so long getting this posted. I am looking for suggestions for another ultra easy beginner drift to do next, preferably in the vicinity of the West side of Portland.

Cheers,
John

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Comment by John Marshall on June 18, 2009 at 9:06am
Your first drift, launching in the dark! You da' man, Bry!

Fortunately, I repaired the rot where the sides meet the bottom before taking it out the first time. Took one whole Summer to do. I still need to make the rest of the boat more presentable, the paint on the inside is peeling and I need to make a couple floor board sections to put on either side of the anchor foot release.

The boat was built by a kid in woodshop at Tigard High. It is basically a Rapid Robert, but he took some interesting short cuts in the process. You know the bevel you put on the rib pieces to match the rocker bottom and bowed sides? This boat has no bevel and uses these wedge shaped shims on all the rib parts. I was also informed that because you can see the football shaped plugs on the inside of the plywood, the kid used regular plywood and not marine plywood. I now have a good coat of PES on everything near or below the water line. It was such a deal, $400 for boat & trailer, I couldn't pass it up.
Comment by Bryan McDade on June 17, 2009 at 7:48pm
Yeah, the low water can cause some hard hits even in relatively small rapids. There are not many areas where you will need to get out. High water is scarier, but I have had less problems with it than low water. The first time I rowed a drift boat I put in at McKenzie Park on the Clack in the dark. I had seen it before and not thought much of it, oh so young and gullible. The day I went was in the Spring and the spillway was overflowing above it at the dam. The first set of rapids in the dark had standing waves come over the bow. That was a wakeup call. The old boat held up with no problems even though later that day wile inspecting it I actually peeled off the whole bottom with one hand because it was so rotten. That was my introduction to working on boats Many happy returns to you!
Comment by John Marshall on June 16, 2009 at 3:30pm
Thanks for the feedback. A friend here also recommended the lower Clackamas this time of year. I will give it some thought. I will have a look at the Amato book this evening to see where to put in and take out. I am still leary of rapids, but I hope that gives way to the thrill of doing them. The first trip was fairly uneventful, but there were moments where I got all worked up over nothing. I'd see a big rock in the middle of the river way up ahead and stress over what to do when I got there. Only to realize that I could have parked the oars in the boat and with the water moving so slow, the boat could have floated freely past the rock with no need to touch the oars. I know as I go down swifter water I will have to be careful not to contact such rocks.

Bryan, when you mention low water causing most problems, I assume you mean not enough water to float and needing to get out and walk the boat through the shallow section?
Comment by Bryan McDade on June 16, 2009 at 12:35pm
Sure You could drift the Lower Sandy for an easy time of it. In the summer you can also drift the clackamas right near town. There are a few rapids but nothing of any real worry in the summer, low water can cause most problems.
Comment by Greg Hatten on June 15, 2009 at 7:11pm
Very cool - Well done John. I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to many more.
Don't know the rivers up north too well - kind of a central-southern oregon kinda river rat.
GH

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