West Satsop CNC

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The new West Satsop CNC shop is coming together! With the help of Enterprise for Equity and Grays Harbor PUD we're making building improvements to improve our energy efficiency, and in a 10,000 square foot facility, everything helps. Triple bottom line is a big part of our business mission and these shop improvements help us honor that commitment.

About West Satsop CNC

West Satsop CNC prides itself on uncompromising quality and innovative design. In addition to boat kits shipped all over the world, we make signs, flat-pack furniture and cabinetry.

Catalog West Satsop Drifter

West Satsop Drifter

It's finally done.  It's amazing how a deadline will focus your attention.

Read more: West Satsop Drifter

West Satsop Drifter

Jeff grew up on the banks of the Satsop River. While fishing from the shore he envied the fishermen who had the luxury of a driftboat to find the best fishing spots.

Although he noticed something odd about all the boats; with the normal load of one oarsman and one fisherman, the typical "Rogue River" type driftboat exhibited poor trim, and he could always hear them coming as they clattered over the rocks in the shallows upstream of his fishing hole. He blames this (probably unfairly) for his poor fishing success. 

He was puzzled by these dories with their extreme rocker, and strongly upswept sheer, so apparently unsuited to local rivers. 

The first driftboats were flat-bottomed affairs with very little rocker, shallow draft and good ability to hold a course. This flat bottom precluded access to the upper reaches of the Rogue and McKenzie rivers where category II and III rapids predominate. Boatbuilders in the 1920's began to experiment with dory shapes, which eventually culminated in a design which could handle the most demanding rapids. Unfortunately, the tradeoff for this kind of specialization was a complete inability to do other things. A modern driftboat, without any built in flotation, and with such a deep draft and short waterline length renders them unsuited for crabbing on the bay, trolling on the river's lower reaches or lake fishing.

West Satsop Boatworks thinks that boatbuilders are not meeting the actual needs of sports fishermen. We set out to design a boat which;

Draws no more than 4" under an 800# load
Can operate well with a 5 hp outboard
Has built-in flotation, making it suitable for rivers, bays and estuaries
Has flexible loading and seating
Handles moderate chop without slapping
Has extended chines for good courseholding ability
Is a suitable driftboat for category I and II rapids, and can be handled safely by a skilled oarsman in category III.

Here is the result.


First thing to notice is the transom notch designed around a 5 hp longshaft motor. You can also see the sloped motor well preventing following seas from entering the cockpit, while allowing water to drain through the transom. Under the motor well (to either side of the removable fuel tank) are built in flotation chambers.


This photo gives you a feel for the relatively flat midships section and the slight v to the forward section of the bow - useful for better rowing performance, deflecting spray and giving a more gentle motion in moderate chop.

In this view, we can see a couple of interesting things. First note the longitudinal thwart. When drifting, the oarsman faces forward to scout for obstacles downstream. The oarsman will face aft in a traditional rowing position when on open water. When motoring, the helmsman can sit to hold the tiller in either left or right hand. When boarding, passengers can step on the relatively flat and stable boundary seating (which also provides major stiffness to the hull sides).

See also the rugged handrail/inwale. These are CNC cut at our shop from locally-grown Port Orford Cedar. The forward footwell features knee braces for a standing fisherman. The forward chamber is sealed for positive flotation, but it can also be used to hold gear.

This model is 1/4 scale. The full size boat has the following specifications;

Length over all : 16' 3"
Beam over all : 6' 3"
Design draft : 4"
Displacement : 802# (at designed waterline) 

We anticipate building the prototype in January/February to get some practical feedback from the buyer, to exhibit it at the Olympia Wooden Boats show in May, ready to take orders for kits. 

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