In 1975, there may have been commercial manufacturers of raft frames. But none were listed in the Yellow Pages, and there was nowhere else to look. I figured out fairly quickly that the only way I was going to get a frame for my new big raft was to build it myself.
For ideas, I went to Bill McGinnis’s book Whitewater Rafting, and found several sketches of very elaborate raft frames built of wood. I could work in wood. In fact, I could make my raft frame even more elaborate than those in the book.
I measured the raft, my big 48-quart ice chest, my three-burner Coleman stove, my river bags, and everything else I wanted to take on my next raft trip. I even measured my wife. But that’s another story. After making many scale drawings of my ideas, I finally settled on a design that I liked. I bought a van load of plywood, dimensional lumber and hardware and set to work.
It took a couple of months, but in June of 1976, I pumped up my raft—named Mariah, for obvious reasons—and assembled World’s Greatest Raft Frame. It filled half of my garage, and looked really good. I spent the next few weeks applying layer upon layer of polyurethane varnish.
By the time the frame was ready to take rafting, Jackie was pregnant, so the Wild Rogue trip was postponed indefinitely. In consolation, we instead floated the Grants Pass to Grave Creek section of the river at Labor Day, two months before our son was born. It was almost painful to tear down the raft at Grave Creek!