The boat we have constructed for this expedition was designed with a specific series of tasks in mind. First, the boat must be light and agile enough to make the journey upstream without breaking the crew. Second, it must be big enough to avoid being swamped by waves in the mighty New River. With that in mind we followed a design pioneered by Charlie Coleman and the Crew of the Rocky Creek Wildfire last year. Chip, who builds houses with The Coleman Company, modeled the Rocky Creek after diagrams taken from boat 28, found in the great basin dig. The tapered boat features a one-piece pine gunwale, which lends tremendous structural stability to the boat. Besides the pine gunwale, the boat is constructed of white oak.
Our first boat is 44′x8′ with no taper. I am convinced that a boat that is both lighter and tapered will handle much better in both ascending the James and running rapids downriver. The rear nosecone is 1′ longer than the front. By building the boat stern heavy, we will have lift in the front. Were this trip resigned to rivers such as the James, there would be no need to build a higher walled boat; however, in this area, we have deviated both from boat 28 and the Rocky Creek. By exaggerating the rib arms, we have a 24-inch cap rail, necessitated by the fact that this boat will descend the high volume New River. The New is a different kind of river all together, with high wave trains and significant rapids, culminating in the famed New River Gorge.
The Mary Marshall is 43′x7′. The center 5 ribs are all 7′ wide, and each successive rib decreases in width by 2 1/2” as you move away from the center. The boat has 2 distinctive chines it will be able to roll onto below the waterline. The ability to dig an edge into a deeper, faster moving current will make the boat much more maneuverable- something that is sure to come in handy on the New.