Keelboat- Bolger


Boat was constructed by Bolger as a historical representation of an original model designed for the upper-Missouri River, which was built primarily for carrying cargo and passengers (trade, settlers) and thus did not travel fast. Older versions that carried cargo equipped to handle 20-30 crew members to propel it downstream, though this version is used primarily as a historical piece.

Constructed to navigate shallow waters. It is fitted with a square sail, but also comes equipped with oars and poles, the poles used to propel the boat along shallow rivers using human force. Small cabin in the enter, with walkways fitted on the sides for crew to stand on and maneuver the boat. Given favorable conditions, at times oars would be used, as well as the sail, though that was only occasional.

When built out of plywood it is much lighter than most other old boats, but its total displacement is mostly dependent on its cargo. Its dimensions are approximately 38’9” x 8’0”, and has a ten person capacity with accommodations (serves less of a cargo purpose and more for tourists).


  • Relatively lightweight given its size
  • Can hold plenty of cargo and people
  • Sturdy
  • Contains multiple means of power, both human force and occasionally wind.
  • Built to navigate through shallow water.
  • Cool-looking


  • Very large, and less portable on land.
  • Doesn’t travel fast at all.
  • Lot of human-intensive labor required because it can be navigated through shallow water
  • Definitely not something that can be built in two weeks by the NCF Viking Club. But it is pretty interesting.

(Very Rough) Materials List: 

  • Plywood (pricing: on average about $5 per sq ft)
    • Estimated price of hull: $1560
    • Estimated price of cabin:  n/a
  • Epoxy (and corresponding materials)
    • Glass Tape
    • fabric strips to cover resin solution/glass tape
    • West System Epoxy Resin 105
    • West System Epoxy Hardener 205
    • Wood flour (material that will harden epoxy)
  • Paint (gallon covers about 300 sq ft.)
    • Paint for hull: 2.08 gallons, or aprox. $50
    • Paint for cabin: n/a
  • Oars (15-20 oars needed?)
  • Square sail
  • Poles
  • Possible rudder


Though a keelboat would not be a suitable design for our boat, there could be some merit in having some extra space or platforms on the sides that people could stand or sit on as benches, which would leave the floor space empty for a larger glass panel. This could also increase the carrying capacity of the boat.

(Boat can be found on page 191 ((number 38)) of Boats With an Open Mind)

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