How the Menace Happened...
By Gavin Atkin
One Saturday last autumn, several circumstances
came together and gave me an idea. My daughter Ella was due to
attend a party. There were a couple of sheets of ply, some glue,
and some galvanised nails in the garage waiting for a good idea
to happen to them. I was curious about the performance of the
simplified flat-bottomed Mouse variant known as the Skinny Mini
first developed by David Colpitts.
The idea, naturally, was to get Ewan to build a Skinny Mini.
It would be his first boat building project but I thought that
his bright nine-year old mind would cope with marking out the
coordinates and could handle most of the rest of the building
process except for some of the gluing and painting. He's asthmatic,
as I am, and I'm concerned to avoid making his condition any worse
through exposing him to chemicals.
Anyway, as the pictures show, Ewan marked out his ply, cut it,
made up his frames and generally built his boat. Most of my help
consisted of directing operations, but I did drill holes for his
nails, and I later painted the boat wearing a respirator.
And yesterday, May 22nd, we finally launched the Menace at my
friend Jim's lake. It's not quite the boat that the standard Mouse
is, but it's a splashy, wet and fun little thing that is perfectly
good for a small lake as you will also see from photos of the
event, and pretty good for playing silly wet games with a football.
Speed-wise, the Menace when powered by a ten-year old with a double
paddle turned out in races to be pretty even matched with the
single-paddle 12ft open canoes we were also playing with that
The last photo shows Ewan landing Menace as we have learned to
do: you point it at the beach, paddle as fast as you can, run
up the beach and step out over the bows without going near to
touching the water.
I think it might take six hours for the average adult to build
this little boat, and it only took a little more for Ewan.