Friday, February 4, 2011

July 2010 Oar Trip: Sandy Nevills Rides the Sandra, Historic Cataract Boat

The Canyoneers July 2010 oar trip through Grand Canyon was rather an historic honeymoon trip for two members of the Canyoneers family. As always, our oar rafts were accompanied by the historic Nevills cataract boat the Sandra, the only authentic, restored Nevills cataract boat still working Grand Canyon. All the other surviving Nevills boats are in museums or in private collections.

The Sandra was the last cataract boat that legendary river runner Norman Nevills (who was also the first commercial river runner in Grand Canyon) built, in 1947. He named it after his little daughter Sandy, who christened the boat at Lees Ferry.

The Sandra is now owned by Greg Reiff, son of Sandy Nevills Reiff, and himself a third generation Grand Canyon river runner. Greg rows the boat on Canyoneers' June and July trips each year. Greg saved the boat from a slow death by decay when he had the boat restored by Andy Hutchinson, master boat builder from Colorado, who rows the boat on the August trips. The boat was then re-christened at Lees Ferry by Sandy.

In this video, Greg explains how his mom will be coming along on the trip, at times riding on the Sandra while Greg rows. Accompanying them is Earl Weimer, who worked one season as a Grand Canyon river guide for Mexican Hat Expeditions, which is what Canyoneers used to be called. Earl had not been down the Canyon since.

What's more, Earl and Sandy had dated in high school, some 50 years ago, and hadn't seen each other since. Their paths then crossed again, and they married soon after. Now they will go down the river in Grand Canyon for the first time together, on the historic cataract boat named for Sandy, rowed by her son.

Includes original video footage by Tom Myers, a Canyoneers river guide and co-author of several bestselling books about Grand Canyon.

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