River's Touch Friends


Harold Dynamite Payson was a grand master of small wooden boat construction, modeling and story telling. He served as my mentor over the years, and it was Dynamite who talked me into recovering the McKenzie and Rogue River boats that had either been, or were in danger of being lost to time. Age and circumstance caught up with Dynamite and he passed away on March 23, 2011. I, as did Dynamite, retained my tactile approach to the laying down of lines, modeling and boat building. Dynamite was a legend in his own time, and people sought him out from around the world for his plans and his knowledge. Our collaborations spanned the continent from my shop in Oregon to his shop in Maine. I miss him very much, and am privileged to have been both a friend and partner. For more about Dynamite, go here.


A.J. DeRosa's Wooden Boat River Tours. Located in Jackson Hole, A.J. and his crew of professional guides offer  unique, comfortable and elegant river experiences on the Snake. His boats are all historic McKenzie re-creations. A drift boat historian in his own right, A.J. finds, secures and restores historic McKenzie River drift boats. He and his Jackson compatriots tackle a boat per winter and usually bring the restored craft to the McKenzie river boat show the last Saturday in April.  
Ray Heater and Cyrus Happy, Rays River Dories. Ray is, to my knowledge, the only remaining frame construction drift boat builder who relies on his boat building business for his livelihood. Both Ray and Cy are craftsmen par excellence. This business is also unique in that they are the only providers of the popular rapid Robert, a uniquely dual purpose riverboat. Ray and Cy offer drift boat kits and boats built to order. The duo maintain shops in Sandy and Portland, Oregon.  
Jasun Cajune of Livingston, Montana has set the high-bar for stitch and glue constructed boats at Cajune Boats. His exquisite boats can be commissioned, and in recent years Jason has begun to offer boat kits. While he appreciates the history of these boats as evolved through frame construction, he  has added his own designs and ingenuity through the technology of stitch and glue construction.

Down home Boatworks


Down Home Boatworks is owned and operated by Dave Zielinski in Western Pennsylvania.  He started building drift boats out of the love for flyfishing, rivers and big wild fish.   He's am a long time fly fisherman and my earliest memories are those surrounded by water and boats.  He built our first boat in the spring of 2000 from a set of lines off an original 16' driftboat.  One boat build led to another and before I knew it, I was building boats for my friends who shared my passion for fly fishing and river running. He's also a bird hunter, ukelele craftsman, song writer, jammer and wonderful friend who tested the efficacy of one my boats that appears in my book, The Trapper.  

Sandy Pittendrigh of Bozeman, Montana owns and operates Montana Riverboats. His popular boat plans (stitch and glue construction) are offered on line through subscription. In addition, he is a notorious fly tier, great story teller, and hosts the very informative and popular boat builders' forum. Forum participants are generally interested in stitch and glue construction, but there is interest for everybody.  

Brad Dimock is an author, river historian, wooden boat aficionado and Colorado River Guide. He owns and operates Fretwater Press, a small, independent publishing firm that offers unique biographies, logs and novels about icons of the Colorado. Brad co-authored The Doing of the Thing, the Brief, Brilliant White Water career of Buzz Holmstrom, and it was this book and the successful effort to resurrect Buzz's boat, the Julius, that brought Brad and I together. Noted, among other things, for his bad hair days, he is best known for his little publishing house, author, as a river guide, historian, and now, boat builder. .  

Kenny, Kelsey, Dave

Dave Helfrich (Helfrich Outfitter) was the oldest son of famed McKenzie River guide, Prince Helfrich. Dave was an invaluable resource in my search for the original boats and the stories of the people behind them. Regrettably, he passed away on October 7, 2016. Like his dad, Dave started guiding at a young age and the river has been his life. His son, Kenny took over the family business and both he and his daughter, Kelsey, continue the Helfrich legacy. Guides par excellence are all three.  

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A Helfrich Outfitter, Aaron and Jonnie Helfrich. Aaron is Dave's nephew, son of Dean. A river trip with these two, and their guides is a memorable trip. Fishing the McKenzie River and Rogue River through the “Wild and Scenic Canyon”, providing full and half-day McKenzie River Rafting or Oregon Fishing Trips. Specializing in “5 night – 6 day, Middle Fork of the Salmon River Trips.” Offering 3-4 night trips on Oregon’s John Day River.  

Explore Oregon

Our friends at Travel Oregon, the "official travel guide to Oregon," is a site that highlights the wonders and travel opportunities of this great state, and especially, Grant McOmie, creator and presenter of Grant's Getaways. This feature is presented weekly on Portland's KGW- 8, and he recently featured the All Oregon Boat. Grant's enthusiasm for the out-of-doors, our Oregon heritage and the value of both preservation, restoration and history of things wild and beautiful such as Oregon's rivers and drift boats, makes him a darn good friend.




Pleasant Trees Industry is owned and operated by Sonny Montgomery, Independence, Oregon. Sonny is a former fishing guide, drift boat builder, and a life-long woodworker, and a master at that. He specializes in remodels, especially kitchens, but has a special knack for home redesigns, handcrafted furniture, unique cabinets, clocks and other home decor. Not only that, he is simply a very fine guy. If you are in the mid-Willamette Valley area and are considering a project, check Sonny out here.  


Outdoor Ventures teaches advanced river skills, rowing lessons and paddle instruction for the professional river guide and private boater. Learn to read river water, run rivers safely and confidently in whitewater dories, driftboats, paddle rafts, gear boats, catarafts and even inflatable kayaks. Learn to run some of the most scenic whitewater and salmon, trout and steelhead rivers in the Northwest. Oregon rivers include the McKenzie, Willamette, Santiam, Umpqua, Rogue, Siuslaw, Lake Creek and many other coastal rivers. Washington has beautiful stretches of fishing water on the Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Calawah and Hoh river. We specialize in one on one rowing and paddle training based on the individual students needs. Owned and operated by William Blair.



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The McKenzie River

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The Rogue River

The Julius



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