Here we go again. Taking a little road trip to Oregon this weekend to pick up a genuine piece of driftboat history – a 1960’s era Keith Steele McKenzie boat.

This will be my third driftboat project and I am super excited to have one that was built and used in Oregon by a legendary builder.

My first boat was an early 1990s Tatman kit that I built while living in TN and sold a few years after building it. My second one was all fiberglass of my own design and build. That one was stolen a few years back.

Now I’m living out west and it just won’t do to not have a drift boat. I have spent several months deliberating on whether to build a super nice wooden one, pick up a cheap used glass one, or look for a Woody Hindman or Keith Steele. As luck would have it, this Steele boat showed up on Craigslist and a friend, knowing I really wanted one snagged it before someone else could. An older guy in Oregon had the boat built for him by Keith Steele sometime in the 1960s after Steele gained notoriety for building the first Grand Canyon dories. He had a stroke a few years ago and realized it was time to let the old girl go.

The boat looks all original and complete and the owner says it is solid and perfectly usable as-is but my friend and I are going to go through and restore her. But maybe we’ll do a float or two in her first.

So what do y’all think… should I finish the whole boat with a bright finish or paint the outside? If paint, what color? My first one was hunter green with a tan rub strip and bright inside. I liked that look. Also thinking of maybe a turquoise color. It currently looks to be painted white.

I'd also really like to go by Steve Steele's shop while I am nearby. Anybody know how to contact him?

Views: 7284

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

CW, I like your boat, your beard and the fine video you shared! I am currently working on refinishing the interior of my boat that I finished in 2011. Moisture and poor outdoor storage conditions have left a mark on my boat, nothing that 50 hours of sanding and painting can't repair. Currently in the sanding portion. I conservatively estimate I sanded for 200+ hours during the construction. Going to a primer and paint on the inside so I don't have to battle things again.

Rick Newman

PS, while I have had a beard for years, it has really grown since March when I quit shaving or trimming! I wonder how long it will be before the Covid phase stops and I can trim it again!


Re your outdoor storage... My boat is stored outside at 6700 feet here in Victor, ID and has survived well. I use a boat cover from Montana Canvas in the winter (plenty of snow) and a 16x20 tarp in the summer. That combo has worked well for me. 

I allowed moisture to get under the two tarps I had covering my boat. One of my Corona Virus tasks is to clean out my garage enough to actually store my boat indoors! The wood formed mold on on it. lots of sanding to remove the mold and to remove the previous polyurethane finish I had tried. The bond between the finish and the wood broke down. Better luck on my next finish plan.


Thanks for the comments. The old boat has two floats under her belt now. Here are a few pics with my wife, my son, and the first catch. Not a bad start to what I hope will be many more.

David, this is the Boise River.


© 2021   Created by Randy Dersham.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service