Saturday, July 9, 2011

Johnboat Building Demo

Saturday morning, I headed a couple hours south to Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas to check out a johnboat building demo going on down there. It's not very often that any boat building event happens anywhere near where I live, so I jumped at a chance to check out this one.


The drive down took about an hour longer than it should have. My GPS/iPhone took me on a fairly roundabout path to get there. I barely got out of town and down some farm roads when I hit a snag in the form of a bridge that was out and under repair in Linden, Missouri. Checking my iPhone Maps program, I winded my way over toward Ozark and over to Highway 14. Taking 14 toward Ava, about 4 miles outside of town, it happened all over again and I spent a while trying to get into town by way of dirt and gravel farm roads. Both detours were a pain, but I saw some nice scenery in the form of rustic barns, hayfields, cattle, mules and horses, and a cool old one-lane bridge over the Finley River, above stream a ways from where the old Riverside single-lane bridge was.

Single lane bridge over the Finley River between Linden and Ozark

Arriving at Bull Shoals Lake a little before noon, I hopped out of the car and headed up to the pavilion. Larry Dablemont, author, river guide and johnboat builder, along with a handful of other fellows, was building a 20-21' White River Johnboat, the old way. I'm guessing, 21' planks, 16" wide and 3/4" thick. I got there about the time they were fitting the ribs in.


Putting in the ribs

I have Mr. Dablemont's book, "The Authentic American Johnboat: How to Build It, How to Use It" and plan to use it as a guide to build my own johnboat someday. It's cool that there is a folk boat type that is indigenous to the Ozarks Region.

The Authentic American Johnboat - Larry Dablemont

Longboat Outfitters had their modern construction river john on hand. It's a modified Jim Michalak Ozarkian, based off the White River Boats that Owen's Outfitters used to run before the White River was dammed.

Long Boat Outfitters johnboat

Long Boat Outfitters johnboat

There was quite a bit of other float trip memorabilia there, as well.

paddles in various states of finish

Long Boat Outfitters johnboat

Long Boat Outfitters johnboat

At one point, Mr. Dablemont climbed in and explained proper johnboat paddling technique.

Larry Dablemont, explaining proper johnboat paddle technique

After checking out the demo, I drove across the dam to the Visitor Center

Bull Shoals Lake Visitor Center

Johnboat in the rafters of the Bull Shoals Visitor Center

Bull Shoals Dam

View from Bull Shoals Visitor Center of the White River

I had my little sailboat on the roof with hopes of getting a couple hours on the water, but the lake levels were high and the water was rougher than I was comfortable with. Erring on the side of caution, I headed back home a little early.

heading home UPDATE, 3-6-2012: Check out Longboat Outfitters on Youtube...

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