Build the Diablo Canyon, The First Colorado River Dory


Ten-day hands-on workshop
April 29, 2024 – May 9, 2024
(with a one-day break on Sunday, May 5)

  • Tuition: $1600 ($800 deposit)
  • Class limit is twelve (12)
  • Leaders: Brad Dimock and Cricket Rust, Fretwater Boatworks

Students will loft, build and launch this iconic Colorado River dory on the very site it was originally built by Keith Steele for Martin Litton in 1962. This is an intense workshop. You will experience the complete process and develop the skills necessary to build your own Colorado River Dory. And if you want to test your “`luck of the draw,” you could go home with this boat for the cost of the boat as a kit.

The Discovery center is located on the 46-acre site of the Old Leaburg Fish Hatchery. It is here that Steele built the first two dories for Martin Litton: The Portola, later named Diablo Canyon, and P.T. Reilly’s Susie-Too, a sequel to Reilly’s lost Susie-R.

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SKU: PROG-1-1 Category:


The class will begin by lofting the boat—drawing it full size from a Table of Offsets and fine-tuning all the curves for a perfect boat. Then you’ll build the parts—frames and stems— using the lines as full-size templates. Meanwhile you’ll scarf together sheets of plywood to make the large panels for sides and floor. By day three we expect to pull the hull together and get ready to install the bottom. The remainder of the course will involve installing gunwales, decking, and hardware. Much of boatbuilding is troubleshooting and problem solving; you will be taken through each step. Sometime on day ten we will launch her on the McKenzie River near the Discovery Center.

Fretwater Boatworks in Flagstaff is Brad Dimocks’ home eddy. He is a dory builder, Colorado River guide and a nationally regarded dory building instructor. The same is said for his colleague, Cricket Rust, both of whom annually teach at the popular Woodenboat School in Maine. They also teach at the landmark Lowell’s Boats Shop in Amesbury MA.

Registration, Tuition, Cancellation

Registration and tuition are handled online. This 10-day workshop requires an $800 deposit to hold your reservation. The balance due must be paid one month before the workshop begins (by March 29, 2024). You will receive a registration confirmation email after your deposit.

If you must cancel or withdraw, the following policies apply:

  • A refund less $75 if you have paid the deposit only ($150 if you have paid the full amount) will be granted if you cancel within 30 days of the workshop (Not later than March 29, 2024)
  • If your notice of withdrawal is received between 15 and 30 days of the workshop, your tuition is not refundable. However, it may be applied to a future workshop.
  • If you cancel within 15 days of the workshop, we cannot refund your tuition nor apply it toward a future workshop. In the event of an emergency beyond anyone’s control, MRDC reserves the right to cancel the workshop. Registrants will receive a full refund.


Lodging is on your own. However, The Wayfarer Resort is cooperating with us to provide offseason rates at their lovely resort. It is located just a short distance from the MRDC. They may also accept a few trailer/campers. More details of this and other options will be included in your confirmation notice.

Additional information

Call for Questions

Need more information or have a question. Please call the workshop coordinator:

Roger Fletcher

Hope to see you there.