Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Since we are desert people, basically, so we haven't had all that much experience with boats. When we lived in Alaska, though, Mom and Dad got a homestead on the far end of a big lake, called, with some lack of creativity, Big Lake. The only way we could get there was by boat, so dad bought a home-made thing about 15 feet long and three feet wide, with an absolutely flat bottom. No keel, no skeg, no nothing. Whenever we took the boat across the lake, it had to be on a perfectly windless day. We'd start out and have a great old time skimming across the smooth water. Came time to turn, though, and things got exciting. Dad would turn the engine, and the boat would turn all right, but keep going in the same direction. So, we'd be motoring north with the body of the boat pointed northwest and making the same speed. In order to turn, we'd have to slow way down, carefully get the boat pointed in the right direction, and take off again. Dad knew what was wrong, but I don't know if he ever fixed the problem or just left it to the next owner.
Dad liked to build things strong. So, one day -- I was in college by this time and we lived near Lake Powell -- he found a build-your-own-boat ad in Popular Mechanics, I think it was and sent off for a set of plans. The boat was kind of wedge-shaped, not pointed at the prow, and was designed to run on two skis, or sponsons, at the front. It was to be built of light-weight plywood. Dad built the boat to specs, then decided that it wasn't strong enough, and covered the whole thing with fiberglass, making it about three times its original weight. He finished it off with a plastic windshield and two seats made of red Naugahyde bar stools with short backs and no legs on them. The whole thing was maybe two feet tall, and looked racy as all get out.
Unfortunately, it was also too heavy to be much of a boat. It was supposed to get up on the front skis and skim along the water. However, we never did, to my recollection, get it up out of the water. Finally, I think Dad just junked the whole thing and bought a nifty little Lone Star aluminum 16 footer that was one of my favorite boats.

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