by Guest Columnist Mike
What's a Dinghy?
The smell of the pine being sawn into somewhat similar lengths is like
an aphrodisiac. The tailgate of a 91 Toyota serves well as a sawing
platform to build a set of sawhorses. Why sawhorses one might say? Well, I
have to build this set of sawhorses so that I can build a workbench so
that I can have somewhere to set my toolbox so that I can get some more
floor space in this incredibly small 8’ by 12’ portable building so that I
can build a dinghy. “Yes”, I said to my teenage daughter, “it will float
and we can actually ride in it”. “Yes, I know they sell cute little
plastic ones at West Marine”. “No, I haven’t lost my mind, cause you have
to have one to lose”. What’s a dinghy? I cant tell you all at once, as I’m
not too sure myself. Back to the story.
Altogether, the business of building a dinghy comes on a fellow kind of
like several other things in life. Like your first love, you tend to
forget all about other things that were important. For instance, let’s say
you used to come home and cook supper for you and your teenage daughter
(single Dads do that kind of stuff). It slowly turns into something like
this. “Dad! Do you want to go to eat Mexican or do you want me to pick it
“Go get it”.
“But Dad, the salsa gets runny by the time I get home with it, are you
sure you want me to go get it”?
Then when she gets back with it, there is always the choice of where to
eat it. “No Sugar, bring it out here to the shop (incredibly small 8x12
portable building, now with sawhorses holding several sheets of plywood),
we can eat on the table out here”.
“What table out there”?
“The plywood one with eight legs, sweetie”.
The incredibly small boat shop
and the plywood table
Building a dinghy is like having a hole in your head. It makes your
brains leak out. Things you once thought you had a grip on slowly fade
from your grasp as if you never knew how to do them. “I know I paid that
light bill, how dare they turn off the…………….” about the time your teenage
daughter reminds you that you laid the bill on the kitchen table a month
ago, and said you would take care of it the next morning. What is a dinghy
you say now?
Building a dinghy is like an excuse to buy things that make sawdust and
noise. I started out with a circular saw and a palm sander. Somewhere
along the way the $50 yard sale table saw came in so I could rip the
lumber for the mast. Of course this meant I had to buy that factory
reconditioned belt sander to set up the “Redneck Lathe” to turn the mast.
(Masts have to be round, don’t they?) (I will have to explain the Redneck
invention process in a whole other article.) The sad thing is the excuses
that can be made to purchase a tool, for instance “Why, I could make the
neatest set of shelves in that pantry area if I had that 10” Sliding
Compound Miter Saw”.
Building a dinghy is like quitting smoking. You will tell yourself that “I
don’t have to go out to the shop tonight, as the glue is still not set
well enough to do anything else”, but then like a nicotine fit has taken
you over, you meander out into the night air to go check on the
aforementioned dinghy. Matters not that it’s now 45 degrees and raining
and the dog doesn’t even want to go out. You will.
Building a dinghy is like volunteering to participate in the Spanish
Inquisition. “You’re building a what”? “Out of wood”? “Will it float”?
“They sell them at West Marine, you know”? “Where does the motor go”? The
endless interrogation pursues you like a tornado headed for a trailer
park. “Is that like a SeaDoo”? And then the icing on the cake is after you
answer about 37 of these intelligent inquiries, you hear the fatal words
“I don’t understand”. That is the cue for you to start mumbling
non-landlubber things like thwart, and breasthook, and walk away. They
already think you’re a few sandwiches short of a picnic anyway. Might as
well live up to it and have some fun.
So then what is a dinghy? Well, its not a hole in the water as some
contend. It’s not just a boat. A dinghy is the beginnings of a life that
will never be the same. People who have never built anything other than a
BLT on wheat can build a dinghy. A dinghy is a steppingstone to the
adventure of a lifetime, which can last a lifetime. A lowliest dinghy in
the harbor has more character than a dozen production fiberglass yachts. A
dinghy is a workhorse, and a vehicle for more fun than a “barrel full of
monkeys”. A dinghy can take you places you have never been, meet people
you have never met, see things you have never seen. People always wave at
you when you’re in your dinghy. People always smile at your dinghy. There
is just something about a dinghy. Ya gotta love em’.