Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Rollin’ Down the River, Beautifully

River drifters and fly fishers, get on the wait list now: It takes three months to build a custom Croff Craft drift boat.

Kristi Kates - April 7th, 2014  

The wooden works of art start at $14,000 and are the widest, most stable, small boats on the market. That’s good news for those who like to drift tight water, casting for fish on two feet.


As a boy in northern Michigan, Croff began woodworking with an uncle.

“There was no end to what could be created with wood,” Croff said, “and I was constantly experimenting.”

Fishing was also a favorite pastime, as Croff and his brother used to cast flies for brook trout in Silver Creek.

“A lot of time was spent cruising the banks of the rivers, wading and trying to catch that elusive trout,” he said. “Nighttime fishing proved more successful, but wading at night can be treacherous.”

Croff decided to build a small, stable boat that could quietly navigate those evening waters.

“[It had to be] steady enough to stand and fish from it,” he said. “It also had to draft very little water in order to move atop the logs, rocks, and deadheads that are common in our rivers.”

A drift boat, or flat-bottomed craft with flared sides, was the likely answer. But all the models Croff knew of were too big to navigate the small rivers in his backyard.

“So I decided to build one,” he said. “I drew out a quick design on a napkin, and started building.”


From those humble beginnings, Croff Craft Custom Driftboats began.

Very similar to the classic Mackenzie drift boat design, Croff’s boats are wider – 60 inches at the bottom, creating “excellent stability,” Croff said.

“We build the widest small boat on the market,” he said. “The cedar wood helps keep the weight down to create less draft, and the bottom is constructed with a rocker that enables the boat to spin at its center for easier control while floating.”

Built for both rivers and small lakes, the boats can also be modified with a transom to allow for a small motor.

While fishermen love them, the boats aren’t “just” for fishing.

“Fishing is only one activity,” Croff said.

“Many enjoy the boats for a leisure float, or cruise on the lake.”

Though the boats are primarily made from cedar, there are also walnut and some other exotic woods in places that need denser material, giving the hulls contrast and color.


Croff said the building process is complex.

“Cedar planks are cut, glued, fiberglassed, and epoxied together to construct the bottom of the boat,” he said. “The sides are shaped in a similar manner and joined to the bottom, where the decks are built in.”

Rails strengthen the design, the bow and stern are made, and then the oar locks and boxes for the seats are built and installed.

The boat is then taped off and sprayed inside and out with protective polyurethane. All the wood is sanded and coated with varnish, and finally, the seats are constructed from walnut and woven with parachute cord.

“My hands touch every inch of the boat many times before it is finished,” he said, “and no two boats are alike.”

Croff considers each client’s boat an original piece of work, so custom means custom. Croff will build to suit.

To acquire a Croff Craft Driftboat, all it takes is a phone call to get things moving, although there is a wait list since the boats are made one at a time.

“In every boat I build there is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears … literally. I am the designer, engineer, builder, and finish guy,” he said. “But I absolutely love what I do, and try very hard to make that love show itself in the finished product.”

For more information on Croff Craft Custom Driftboats and the craftsmanship of Phil Croff, visit croffcraft.com or call (231) 330-5762.

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