Rowing for the Cure
SEAN SPERRY/CHRONICLE Rance Rathie, left, Travis Smith, center, and Whitney McDowell float down the Madison River in the pink Rowing for the Cure boat.

The fly-fishing guides who hang around RO Drift Boats couldn't believe someone would order a pink drift boat.

"They thought someone was just being a dork," Robert Eddins, owner of the Four Corners-based shop, said Tuesday.

Then Eddins would tell them the story behind it.

Painted with the slogan, "Rowing for a Cure," the pink boat is intended to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The boat will travel across the West, passed between fishing guides, who will take it on the water and then accept donations from fellow anglers, clients or anyone else who sees the boat.

RO built a special drop box for donations into the front seat.

In addition to being perhaps the only pink drift boat in the world, it is unique in that it was the brainchild of a group of men.

The idea started with a group of women anglers who suggested a fly-fishing event to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. The women told Rance Rathie, of Patagonia River Guides, such an event could include fishing in pink clothes and casting pink flies.

Rathie thought the concept demanded a pink boat.

He talked to Eddins and to Ian Davis, owner of Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures of Bozeman. Davis' mother, Judy, died of breast cancer.

"It was just kind of a pipe dream that materialized in the last couple of months," Davis said Tuesday.

The three men and their fishing companies teamed up to build the boat. They raised $6,000 and donated their labor to make it happen.

On Tuesday, the three men launched the newly finished boat - named Judy after Davis' mother - for the first time. The inaugural float took place on the Lower Madison River.

And now, the boat is off to collect donations and raise awareness.

First, Davis said, the boat will head to fishing guides on the Yellowstone River. From there, it will return to the Madison. After that, it will move on to the Henry's Fork River, then to Jackson, Wyo., and beyond.

The guide who raises the most money for the foundation each season will win prizes donated by Gallatin Valley fishing companies, Davis said.

"Any guide in the future that wants to row it can contact me," he said.

For more information or to donate, contact Davis at 585-8667.

People can also follow the boat's travels on its Facebook page "Rowing for a Cure Pink Boat."

Amanda Ricker can be reached at aricker@dailychronicle.com or 582-2628.