Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports columns

February 12, 2012

MARTINO: Kokomo’s Lutgen goes from boards to boats

He has built drift boat, wooden kayak

— Few things are as pleasing as the sweet smell of wood. It fills your nostrils then seemingly goes straight to your soul. That aroma tells you immediately something is being hand crafted.

In today’s age, it seems many have forgotten the pure joy and satisfaction that comes from building something with your own two hands. Kokomo’s Greg Lutgen enjoys constructing things from wood. A tour through his shop is like a work in progress. Various tools cover his work bench and a light layer of fine sawdust coats almost everything.

Lutgen loves to fish. He also enjoys taking on challenges of doing things he has never tried before. So it was only natural when he decided to combine his two passions and construct his first wooden boat. Although he spends countless hours on our state’s rivers and streams, his real passion is fishing for trout in Michigan’s flowing waterways. So it came as no surprise his first project would entail constructing his very own drift boat, sometimes called a river dory.

These types of boats sport high sides, steep rocker and are made to take on rough water. They basically float in the middle and with long oars are one of the most maneuverable watercrafts made.

“After seeing many drift-style boats on the Pere Marquette River, I thought I could build one cheaper,” said Lutgen, explaining why he decided to take on such an endeavor.

After doing some research, he purchased a kit from Idaho, a state well known for the use of these types of watercraft. When fishing season had ended and fall turned to winter, he could be found most evenings working in his shop. By the time spring rolled around, the project was complete.

“I learned you can bend wood more than you think,” he added, stroking his hand along the boat’s steeply curved sides. “But overall, it wasn’t as difficult as I originally thought.”

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