This is the “original” river dory that I designed and built- a 15’8″ dory intended for larger NW rivers with 1-4 people on extended trips. The boat measures 15’8″ end to end, 6’3″ beam, and has a flat spot on the bottom that measured 48″ x 48″. This flat is characteristic of Rogue and Grand Canyon dories, and helps with load carrying, tracking, and boat speed. While both Grand Canyon dories and traditional drift boats often have a flat bottom section, we get it with almost perfectly straight and parallel chines, which helps the boat handle well in big water.
This dory sits squarely between the larger Grand Canyon Dories that have been around for close to half a century and are intended for their namesake, the Grand Canyon, and smaller drift boats better suited to day trips or supported multi-day fishing trips.
Who is this boat for? Anyone looking for the most versatile, easily rowed, and still capable river boat out there. If the traditional Grand Canyon Dories are the “suburban” of river travel, this is more like a Toyota 4-runner. It can go more places, can still haul a good load, and retains the rowing characteristics of these unique boats – good tracking and speed. It’s perfect for a couple or family with small children, and can also serve commercial trips as a great passenger boat. A small person or child can comfortably sit on the forward-facing stern hatch in all but the biggest water, and it could easily run the Grand Canyon with a rower and passenger (or maybe two).
The hatches are designed to maximize storage and boat strength. The main hatch is big enough to fit two Yeti 45 coolers and full size ammo cans, or if you’re careful with latches you can probably squeeze in a Yeti 65. The offset forward hatch allows for stowing long items like folding chairs, umbrellas, an EZ-up, or even musical instruments. The area under the rower’s footwell is just the right height for a tallboy beer standing upright. Go crazy and fit it out to your heart’s content.
If you haven’t experienced a trip where you throw it all in and close the hatches, you are in for a treat. No strapping down dry bags to worry about. Roll up to the boat ramp, drop the loaded boat in, make sure to leave keys for the shuttle driver, and off you go. Everyone else will just be starting to load their rafts and looking for more straps.
The 15’8″ relies on a fully CNC (computerized numerical control) router-cut plywood kit for panels and milled gunnels and bow post. Each piece of plywood is coated on both sides with epoxy and reinforcing fabric (fiberglass is the most common, although exotic fabrics are possible as well), and finish (paint, varnish, or epoxy with additives). The pieces of wood are connected together with “fillets”- essentially small radius beads of epoxy glue with a special additive to thicken and strengthen it and then covered in fiberglass tape. The result is a strong, light, and very tough wooden and composite boat. There really isn’t any other home-buildable material that compares to the qualities of plywood – composite construction.
The 15’8″ uses 13 sheets of 6mm, 9mm and 12mm Meranti Hydrotek marine plywood. By using a variety of thicknesses, we can keep weight down. In addition, 2 CNC cut sheets are used for the building jigs. I have elected to use Meranti plywood due to the reliable quality, good finishing characteristics, and strength. For boats that need to be light and with less potential for hitting rocks, an upgrade to Okoume (lighter) or Sapele (prettier) is possible. If you have a preference for a different plywood we may be able to accommodate that. Kits are not cut out of Douglas fir or non-marine grade plywood.
The kit comes with a set of step by step instructions (print and digital), cnc cut wood panels, solid-wood components milled for use, and fabricated aluminum oar towers. We make recommendations for the composite schedule (how much fiberglass and resin you need and where to apply it), or you can purchase a composites kit from Timber Boatworks. We also recommend specific latches, hinges and gaskets, and places to get them. More info on the kits and construction can be found on the kits page.
I am now taking orders for “beta” boat kits. These may have some minor differences from kit to kit, but are a complete kit and come with a 100 page instruction manual. If you are interested in ordering, please reach out! Plans and kit deposits are also available in the “store” page.
More renderings available below: