Duckworks Design Contest #5
"Economy River Cruiser"
DEADLINE - December 31, 2004

Click HERE for Winners

Brief - Prizes - Rules - Requirements - Judges - FAQ

Brief - You are going to take a float trip down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers from Fort Benton, Montana to New Orleans, and you need to build a boat to do it in. Let's assume for this contest that you are a school teacher who has all summer to make the trip, but not much money. Your budget is 90 days and five thousand dollars (US).

You can build the boat ahead of time, but you must make the trip within the time allotted. Your money must cover the boat, it's accessories (sails, motor, oars) and all your food and supplies for the trip. You do not need to purchase pots, pans, rain gear, sleeping bags, ordinary tents, or anything that someone who is inclined towards outdoorsy activities might have on hand. You are also not required to budget for tools or a place to construct the boat. Finally, you are not required to include transportation to and from the cruise in your budget.

Your gracious and long suffering significant other has agreed to accompany you (I know that is a stretch, but we are pretending, after all). The boat must therefore hold two people and as much gear a you think you will need between stops.

You may choose any single method or combination of motive force (row, motor, sail, paddle, etc). Just remember that fuel must come out of your $5K allotment.

Your route will include some shallow water and some big impounds with waves possible. You will be expected to navigate swift currents and deal with commercial traffic in the lower part of the Mississippi River. Portages will be necessary and you will have to figure out how to make them.

These are the basic parameters, but you will need to do a little research to determine the full extent of the trip. Only then can you determine what kind of boat you will design.

Prizes - We have been fortunate enough to have the sponsorship of three major tool manufacturers: Delta, Ryobi, and Freud. The following prizes will be awarded to the three top winners according to the marks given by the judges. All decisions are final. Note - freight charges for the prizes will be the responsibility of the winners.

First Prize:

Delta 22-580 13" Two-Speed Finishing Planer List Price $788

Second Prize:

Ryobi TS1551DXL 12" Compound Laser Miter Saw List Price $279

Third Prize:

Freud 10" 80 Tooth Ultimate Cutoff Saw List Price $206

Rules - The organizer of the Competition is Duckworks Magazine.

All correspondence should be emailed to…

Or addressed to……

Duckworks Magazine
P.O. Box 10
Harper, TX 78631, USA

The competition is open to anyone other than the following:

  • Previous contest winners
  • Professional Boat Designers
  • Career path Boat Design students who have completed 40% or more of their Course

Entrants retain Copyright of their designs or drawings. However, it is a condition of entry that the Organizer retains the right to display at public shows, publish in Duckworks (including its supplements and associated publications, whether printed or electronic), in full or part, any submitted material, written or electronic.

Only one entry per person will be judged.

Requirements - Due to the number of entries that we expect and the fact that our judges are busy people who generously volunteer their time, we limit the volume of data that you may submit. Any entries that do not adhere to these specific limits will not be judged. Note that these are maximum numbers and you do not need to pad your entry to come up to these levels.

  1. Three drawings or sketches including but not limited to:
    1. Plan view
    2. Front elevation
    3. Side elevation
  2. 20 line list of boat's statistics (measures, weights, etc.)
  3. 1000 word description of boat
  4. 100 line budget showing how the money is spent.
  5. 500 words of explanation of budget
  6. 100 word bio.

These submissions may be made by email or snail mail in electronic or 'hard copy' versions. Please do not submit handwritten text.

Judging -

Judging will be based on the following:

  • How well the boat suits the overall trip
  • How well you have thought out the course and the obstacles in the way.
  • How well you have thought "outside the box" in solving the problems.

Judging will NOT be based on your mastery or any boat design software. We like to see professional looking drawings, but those will not get extra credit. What I am trying to say is don't fail to enter because your drawings are just pencil sketches on note paper. That will do fine.

Judges -

Jim Michalak - well known designer of small "rough and ready" boats. Jim lives in Illinois near the route of the trip outlined in the brief.


Stephen G Ladd - author of "Three Years in a 12-Foot Boat" a lively book which describes a journey similar to the one in our contest.


Bruce Anderson - Boat builder, raconteur, Renaissance man - he inspired the contest by proposing the voyage and may build the winning design and make the trip in it.



Q: (Derek Waters) How much do things cost? European answers will be different, Canadian and antipodean answers less so perhaps? That secondhand outboard, how much did it cost? Really hard to pin that sort of thing down. $0 on up is possible in the real world, but doesn't make for a "level playing field"
I know it seems odd, but this is something the judges will watch. If you are uncertain how your numbers will be seen, give some explanation.

Q: (Bruce Hector) Budget might be a tad low, or is it designed to eliminate power boating all the way and chucking a trail of beer cans over so you can find the way back?
A: If you built a really cheap boat, found an old outboard that didn't use too much gas and brewed your own beer....

Q: (Peter Vanderwaart) It's clear that the proper and right way to meet the challenge is to use a good part of the $5000 to bribe the Publisher of Duckworks to bend the rules and let you borrow his Caprice. After that, it's easy. Seriously, though; what do you do when someone proposes a clone of the Bolger Champlain and claims he can build it for $3000 'cause "I'm a good scrounger"?
A: Again, the judges will deal with this stuff.

Q: (Pat Patteson) Concerning the Portages, is that statement intended to be vague? Does the boat have to be man handled around the existing portages, around the 5 dams, or can the boat be taken ashore at a ramp and moved around all 5 at once using a vehicle?
A: It is intended to be vague. How different contestants deal with this issue will be one of the more interesting parts of the contest. As we said, "thinking outside the box" will be rewarded. That said, we would hope that everyone understands that skipping significant parts of the trip might be frowned on by the judges.

Q: (David Arnold) Is this for me and significant other actual or me and significant other hypothetical. I can think of a couple of approaches, but I’m not sure I could get in and out of them, much less overnight in them any more, unless, of course, I blew the budget on glucosomine…
A: Put away the medication. Everything is hypothetical. This is the internet where every middle aged guy can be a teenaged girl.

Q: (Sam Sandborn) I think on $5000 I could go around the world and back in 90 days taking the polar routes. Do you mean we HAVE 90 days to do it or do we have to TAKE 90 days to do it? Can we submit more than 1 entry?
A: You may take the 90 days, but you don't have to. Either way, you need to budget. Only one entry per person.

Q: (Tom Beck) Regarding the starting point of the contest, I think I'd have to cast my vote toward moving it downstream somewhat to Fort Benton. I looked at the Missouri around Great Falls on Terraserver. I think, if Great Falls remains the starting point, I'd be inclined to throw a bucket of water on the hull to say I got it wet there, then "portage" the boat on its trailer around the three or four dams that you encounter very shortly after. I also noticed quite a few shoals that would have to be portaged around. I realize there needs to be an element of challenge, but it looks like the first 20 km of the trip would have a disproportionate effect on the design, in light of what one would expect for the whole rest of the trip.
A: This was suggested more than once, and we have decided to change the starting point to Fort Benton.

Q: (Jeff) Does the $5000 have to cover the trip cost of getting to the starting point and from the ending point?
A: No.

If you have a question about the rules or any part of the contest, please write me:


Over $1000 in Prizes!

First Prize:
Delta 22-580 13" Two-Speed Finishing Planer
List Price $788

Second Prize:
Ryobi TS1551DXL
12" Compound
Laser Miter Saw
List Price $279

Third Prize:
Freud 10" 80 Tooth
Ultimate Cutoff
Saw Blade
List Price $206

Note: Winners must
pay freight to their
choice of locations