The great dory question! - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 05-22-2015   #1
 
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 141
The great dory question!

In the dory world their version of the pins and clips vs oarlocks argument is which is better: Briggs (Colorado River dory) vs Mckenzie. I am looking at building one of these money traps, and have been spending a lot of time over at Montana Riverboats forum, and the Wooden Boat People researching the designs. The argument seems to boil down to this. The Briggs is faster and the flare angle on the sides seems to handle bigger water better than the Mckenzie. The downside is that there is a flat spot on the chine that makes it harder to spin, and with a 46" width on the bottom, it is tippier than the Mckenzie. The Mckenzie is more manueverable, but with lower sides and less flare it gives wetter rides than the Briggs. My plans for a Mckenzie have a 56" bottom so it is more stable, but no flat spot also means it drafts deeper with the same amount of gear.

Then there is door #3. Design your own. Maybe you get the boat of your dreams, maybe you get an expensive mutant boat of regret. Surprises are fun!

Right now I am leaning more towards the Briggs with a 54"-56" wide bottom (already been done before so there is no mystery here), or door #3 based on the Briggs design with a smaller flat spot on the chine. I keep hearing from people how the Briggs is tough to turn, but these comments are from driftboat folks. It is time to add this argument's version of oar rights into the mix! How easy or hard is the Briggs to turn when compared to a 16' raft? Someone on here has surely rowed both!

Kyle

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Old 05-22-2015   #2
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
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Hi Kyle, what a Great question! Have you read Big Water Little Boats? In Big Water I make a case that the Grand Canyon Dory is any decked compartmentalized McKenzie or Modified McKenzie hull. Hence I would rephrase your question to ask you what do you want? If you want a big gear and people hauler, 18 foot with seating for 5, you want a Modified McKenzie (Briggs or Rogue River Dory) style of hull. If you want a smaller sporty two seater, you want a standard McKenzie hull, 15 or 16 feet long. This boat is much easier to maneuver, not only for the hull design, but it is smaller and lighter. I have found, by shear accident (and incredible luck), that the McKenzie is the hull for me. The smaller boat makes running not only the Grand, but other smaller rivers, a lot of fun. If you make a big boat, you may have trouble getting it down smaller rivers. Hope this helps, yours, tom
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Old 05-22-2015   #3
 
Bellingham, Washington
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Big Water Little Boats was a great book!

I am leaning more towards the Briggs because I tend to carry a lot of gear, at least one passenger, and a 100 pound German Shepherd. The wife and the dog are not always on speaking terms so being able to keep them at separate ends of a 17' boat also has its appeal!

This boat is going to be for less technical rivers. Hells Canyon, the Grand Canyon, the lower Salmon, higher water Deschutes trips, and the Grande Ronde will be the mainstays for this boat.

I still have rubber for more technical or small waters.

Having rowed Mckenzie style drift boats while fishing it is hard to give up that level of responsiveness. I am just wondering how much of it is being lost with the flatter bottom.

Kyle
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Old 05-22-2015   #4
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
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Hey Kyle, you know how these pins and clips debates go... I would argue that the small McKenzie was responsive as it had next to nothing in it. So would a modified McKenzie of equal load. I just want to be sure you are comparing apples to apples. A 16 foot decked McKenzie, fully loaded, plus two people and a dog on the back deck, is going to respond better than an 18 foot modified MKenzie, fully loaded, plus two people and a dog on the back deck. If you are planning to haul a lot of gear, go Briggs (modified McKenzie, also called a Rogue River Dory) simply as it will hold more stuff. Glad you enjoyed Big Water. Please keep us up to speed on what you decide to do, as you do it, and as you boat it! All the best, tom
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Old 05-22-2015   #5
 
Bellingham, Washington
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I have Fletcher's book to, so I gave the Rogue River Dory a good hard look. That thing is beautiful!

I think I muddied the waters a bit with too much background info in my original post. Having never rowed a Briggs I am trying to figure out how much of that agility I am loosing. Is it more manueverable than a similarly sized raft, equal to it, or less?

Kyle
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Old 05-22-2015   #6
 
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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Fletcher's Drift Boats and River Dories is a great book if folks are looking for plans. We know now his Grand Canyon section was missing the link that brought the McKenzie to Grand Canyon in the quite Hoozier. Regardless, Both the McKenzie and modified McKenzie big boats fully loaded are pigs compared to smaller McKenzie and modified McKenzie boats with less gear. It's not the hull, but the amount of gear you are hauling, that decreases the boats agility. Hope this helps, yours, tom
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Old 05-23-2015   #7
 
bighorn1478@msn.com's Avatar
 
lafayette, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 532
I have rowed a McKenzie for 29 years. It is my preferred boat when it fits the trip. My boat specs are:


Center Line: 15'9"
Gunnel: 17'3"
Beam: 74"
Bottom Width: 54"
Height at Oarlock: 22"
Approx. Weight: 375lbs

Changes I would make if doing again:

Beam 76"
Height at Oarlock 26"


I have done 3-5 days with 1-3 total people and gear and carried 1175# of gear and people.
My goal is to row GC alone in my dory before I'm too old to remember doing it.






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Old 05-23-2015   #8
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
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Very Cool Bighorn! Can you post photos?
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Old 05-23-2015   #9
 
Paonia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Jan 2008
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I row a decked Mackenzie which works great for cat and the upstream canyons of the Green and Co. A large chunk of grand commercial dories are eighteen foot hybrids with Rouge and Mackenzie roots. Andy at high desert dories sells plans and or advice if that is the boat you desire. He is a commercial boatman, a bit harder to reach in summer season. Unless you have the coveted inside track on grand permits, the traditional Mackenzie hull makes for a sweet private boat.
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Old 05-23-2015   #10
 
barry hatch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
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McKenzie or Briggs

I agree with Bighorn and Tom. If you want to run the Green and Idaho rivers as well as the Grand, a 16' long 54" bottom and 74" beam with continous rocker would work best. Checkout plasticore as a hull material as opposed to wood. But if youl'd rather, wood is good too. Be sure it is fully decked and foot wells drain quickly. My decked McKenzie runs well in both Grand and Middle Fork. Happy Boating!
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