I can’t stand it any longer. I’ve been waiting for someone - anyone - to report on building the little drift boat that Warren Messer designed, the Sol-Duk Drifter. I did, build one that is, but I’m not a writer so I was waiting - enough is enough.
Something that attracted me to Warren's design is that I knew it would be rather quick and easy. With 5 panels to stitch up and everything wide open, easy to get to, this boat will get you to the water quickly. The only thing that slowed me down at all in building were the side tanks. I had put such things in boats before and had to do the usual (for me) "on the fly" engineering. Warren has a drawn an option for these tanks (plans page 30). It would be good to install some watertight hatches so you can use this area for storage. I believe if you placed the hatches just right and they were rectangular shaped you could get a pair of those cheap, breakdown oars in there as backups. You know the kind. They come with the "blow up $59.00 fishing boats". My brother took one on his honeymoon to FL. Thought he was really going to fish in it. But that's another boat story.
One thing I knew would be critical on the little drifter is seat placement for balance. I built a "temp." seat brace for the forward fisherman's position so I could move it easily, experimenting. I emphasize "temp." because with me that usually means less than adequate and it got me in trouble. On one of the shakedown runs in the Neuse river that "temp" seat base fell apart and my very good fishing buddy lost a pretty good rod to the river. I'll spare you the horrid details. Let's just say that a seat base needs to be able to withstand the impact load of 200lbs falling back on it. Lesson learned by me, I hope.
In the end, this was one FUN little boat. Mind you, I have never been in a full sized drift boat. I’ve always been attracted to the designs, but the nearest REAL driftboat waters to me are about 100 miles away at least. So when Warren slid this thing out there, I jumped in.
I had enough left-overs, plywood and epoxy, to build it out of inventory. I didn’t change much. Any boatbuilder who says he didn’t change a thing from plans … well he might tell a fib about something else too. I modified the bow and stern. Changed the sheer, slightly, and well don’t remember what else. She was certainly like the design below water line, where things count. I say WAS because I made the mistake of putting her on “Craigs”. Sold to someone who knew driftboats before I could think better.
Anyway, our rivers in my part of NC are lucky to have a class II rapid every now and then. This hull was just right for these smallish rivers. And yes, it was comfortable with two guys aboard (400 total lbs.+). Maneuverable, WOW, she would turn in her own shadow, even with stock 7’oars. Plenty stable.
I did some extra stuff to accommodate the conditions. Treated Pine runners on the bottom. I had some Kevlar felt laying around so it went on the chines and at the base of the bow. The casting brace folds down. The seat was inspired buy ones I had seen on boats “out west”. It was a pain to build but very comfortable. Either seat can sit anywhere on the rails, friction fit. The anchor trolly was inspired by the $100. store bought ones. It’s just piece of AL tube, modified and a rubber roller, modified. Jam cleat to hold the anchor rope. Worked good. Small anchor was all that was needed in a 2-4 mph. flow. I generally coat the interiors of fishing boats with truck bed liner (Al’s brand) and it was just right for this drifter.
All I can say in conclusion is BUILD ONE, you’ll like it. Thanks Warren