Shiny boat sitting on the bank of the Kalama river near Beginner hole

So, I bought a drift boat

I was trying to price pressure cookers on Craigslist so I could find how much I should sell the ones I had for. While looking, there was a post for a moving sale that listed pressure cookers and fishing gear. But one of the images was of an aluminum drift boat. I clicked on it, inspected the picture of the boat, and decided that I should write the owner. What shape it was in, price, etc. He wrote back with a price and few other details. After several back and forth messages (in which he answered roughly a third of my questions), I asked to come take a look that evening. He said sure.

Michelle and I drove up to Camas to check out the boat because the girls were at the pool watching a movie (hedonism!). It was old, but in relatively good shape, and the owner was a nice enough guy. We agreed to buy it, but had to settle on payment arrangements first.

the front of an old aluminum drift boat

Well, two weeks later, payment was made, and we picked up the boat on a Friday evening. There was a hornet’s nest in the tongue of the trailer, but he didn’t seem too concerned. He was wearing pants though. We towed it home, chatted with the neighbors who all thought it was cool, then started to prioritize the weekend.

Saturday I picked up a second seat for the front and a not-so universal swivel mount. It took a while to install it, but we got the boat ready and took it out to Henry Hagg Lake for a pleasure cruise (and to confirm that it would float.) The lake was way down, and the trailer was squirrelly to back down the ramp. Immediately as we launched, MG got stung on the ear by a bee or something. The wind and wake made for chaos, along with an amped up dog and MG wailing in pain.

We rowed across the lake and beached on a mud slope so we could run the dog and swim. The girls immediately dove in, and I discovered that there was a second hornet’s nest under the anchor mount. I smashed it out and covered it in mud and we kept playing. We then rowed up the lake arm to the shallower part where there were fewer people (and less wind) and anchored and played for a bit. We ran the dog, swam in the lake, and took turns in the float tube until it was time to head back to town.

family eating snacks on the boat

MG swimming in the lake next to the boat with Andy and Kona in the boat
We rowed back to the launch, slowly, because of the wind and wake, and hooked up to the dock while I ran up to get the car and trailer. When I got there, I found a third wasp nest in the spare tire. No time, I left it and rolled down pass the tournament bass boats to pick up our new (old) boat. We got the boat on the trailer despite some chaos and pulled up to pick up the mess so we could drive. I think we all agree that we need to work on launch and landing protocol so that we’re not all yelling at each other, but no one (except MG with the sting) got hurt.

The day after, Chris, Michelle and I took it down the Kalama River in Washington to try out my rowing skills. The water was low, the fishing bad, and we had to portage a few times. But we made it, and there was only one harrowing part. Well, except for the launch.

We launched at Slab Hole and there was a large sand bar at the bottom of the ramp that prevented us from backing the boat in to the water. Instead, we tied a rope to the bow (and trailer) and had to push it off the trailer, where it dropped down in to the water. My ring got caught on the bow, and as the boat fell, I was pulled with it. Fortunately, my ring popped off before I went over, though it hurt quite a bit. A week later and my entire hand is still sore.
Shiny boat sitting on the bank of the Kalama river near Beginner hole
The one harrowing part was the approach to the tree hole and bend below Mahaffrey’s. The river is so low that the current puts you in a chute right up against the steep rock bank. The chute was a little wider than the boat, and it was difficult to row since the oars were on the bank. I was able to turn sideways to pull away, but right as a mid-current rock arrived. I asked the passengers to leave left to help slide over the rock, and they both leaned right, making sure we got a solid chine-to-rock collision. Nice work team.

We survived though, and subsequently survived the experience of having to do a 23 point turn because some jackass parked in the boat turn around.

All in all, it was a great first weekend with the boat. We have a better understanding of the needs, the boat (which rides quite high, I’m happy to report). We did a few portages, but it was great and I’m excited to row again.

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