McKenzie style drift boats are unique to the Northwest and were named after the river they were built to run.  The high bow, flared sides, flat bottom, and upturned ends allows it to move with speed and agility through technical Class I - IV rapids.  Author Ted Leeson says it so well in Habit of Rivers - Reflections...  

  "Like Steelhead, a drift boat is the perfect union of form and function, all beauty and business, and one of the most honest things on the planet.  Few other craft will perform the same function, and none with such elegance."

  I built the "Obsession" from African Sepele Mahogany and Alaskan Yellow Cedar and it performs extremely well on the rivers of the Northwest.  It's built for white water adventure and fly fishing and it has a number of fishing "features" that are unique to the boat and the way we fish for steelhead.

  Award winning journalist Jes Burns did a feature on McKenzie River Drift Boats and was aboard the Obsession when she crafted a story which aired on NPR "Morning Edition" via Oregon Public Broadcasting a few years ago.  The OPB link has both the article and the audio from that report -  listen to the audio and hear the waves against the boat and the sounds of saws as the boats are constructed.  In a follow-up report, Jes added a slide show and more interviews in Telling the Story of the McKenzie Style Drift Boat.


One of the first Grand Canyon boats to adapt the elements of the McKenzie Style drift boat was the Portola - built in 1962.  In March of 2012, we recreated that historic trip in replica boats and ran every rapid in that 285 mile stretch of the Colorado River… I built and rowed the Portola.

© Greg Hatten 2012                                                                           541-232-3565