Anybody have recommendations for the maintenance of a wood drift boat? This my first season having one and would like any tips. Thank you in advance.

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How about some pictures? It will help us figure out what we are commenting on.

To post a picture I first locate the file so you could find it on your computer.  Click on the small icon above the box where I am currently typing. It is just to the right of the small icon that says "LINK". That will open a box that reads: "ADD IMAGE". You can choose from FROM MY COMPUTER or FROM A URL. If you choose computer, then a double click will start the process of copying the picture so it can be posted on the website server.

When your picture will be posted it will be full sized and there will be no clear margin around it unless you select "padding."  Selecting 1 means you will have 1 pixel, or very small space around the outside of your picture. Unless you are trying to place several pictures tightly together you can ignore padding.

You can chose to post the picture to the left right or centered on the page. You can also make a picture larger or smaller based on the width in pixels that you select.

Click okay and the picture will be copied to the post you are working on. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Rick Newman

The most important thing is to keep it under cover when not in use.  A garage is best, second best would be a carport or other cover (I once kept mine in an airport hanger).  Avoid constant exposure to the weather.  

Another important thing is to wide up any water that gets inside.  I sponge out the bottom after each use. It gets wet from drippy fish nets, from rain, and from an occasional splash over the bow.

I also touch up the varnish as needed.  Touching up prolongs the time between compete refinishing.

Finally, I re-coat the bottom every 3 or 4 years, depending on how dinged up it is.

My old Keith Steele boat is almost 50 years old and still going strong.

Here are some pictures. Making some room in the garage for permanent storage.
Here are some pictures. Making some room in the garage for permanent storage.


At the risk of being a called a dick, If you want our help, which is obvious in your posting. Please do as Rick suggests and post your pictures in the post.  

I've been here contributing a couple of years now and have figured how to do this as Rick taught me with literally the same words as he shared to your post.  This isn't rocket science.

If you want our help meet us half way, eh.


After looking at a picture of your boat it seems to have a coating of varnish. As David Jensen and others have stated storage is very important to long life of that coating. Ultraviolet rays will eventually break down many things and thus avoiding exposure to sun will reduce the reapplication of varnish. Commonly when varnish has suffered from excessive UV exposure you get to practice your sanding skills to prepare the surface for the reapplication of varnish. There are numerous schools of thought on the selection of and application of varnish. Which brand of varnish, do you thin it, what is the best brush, how many coats of varnish, do I sand between coats, etc. We have a good search function at the top right hand corner of the page. A phrase or sentence will bring better results than just a word in most cases. You can look on here to read the discussions about a multitude of subjects. There may not be absolute answers but often many suggestions or options for you to consider. It looks like you have a nice boat. We look forward to pictures and news about it and you.

Rick Newman

I have two Keith Steele woodies;  a 1989 and a 1997.  They are both in great shape because they are protected from water and sun.  One is kept in a closed shop, the other in a roofed open air boat shed.  The one in the boat shed is tarped if it is not being used for a few days to protect against the sun which is enemy number two.

Good looking boat, looks like it has a nice finish on it too. Kinda looks like my Okume plywood I used on mine. Kept out of the sun and rain, it will probably go  quite a few years before it really needs a light sanding and more finish. I kinda hurried mine this past spring to get it fishing worthy and fighting the cold still didnt get the finish coats I wanted, but that can be on my punch list. So your in Mich too. I`m up in traverse, Dorf is around Saginaw. We tried to have a wood boat outing in June on the MO but it kinda flopped with only 3 boats showing up.


Take a look at these videos on You Tube it's from a shipwright with a lot of experience and this is specific to Varnish work on an older boat.  There's a few nice tips here that will be helpful to you.

There is also a second video, "Part 2".'  

This third video is "stripping varnish with  heat and scraping.  good info also.

Your boat looks pretty nice!

Hope this helps.



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