This summer I built a boat. Yeah, a boat.
The whole idea hit me last fall. My girlfriend was studying in France for the semester, school was tough and I wanted to escape. While she was off exploring the ends of the world, I was stuck in rural Minnesota. I craved adventure. I spent a lot of time on the internet; it was my only outlet to the world. I wandered the web day after day, late into the night. Finally I stumbled upon a something that would occupy my every thought for the next several months: the Shell Boats Boat Building Plans and Kits website. I don’t know how I found it; maybe it was divine revelation, but something about this idea of building a boat out of nothing more than some plywood and 87 cent per dozen screws gave me the feeling of adventure that I so desperately needed.
|Something about this idea of building a boat out of nothing more than some plywood and 87 cent per dozen screws gave me the feeling of adventure that I so desperately needed.
“I’m going to build a boat.” I told my girlfriend on the phone the following morning. She laughed. “Just another one of those impractical dreams.”
“I’m going to build a boat.” I broke the news to all three of my roommates. Three more laughs.
“I’m going to build a boat.” I thought my sister and brother-in-law would understand. Not quite. “Don’t tell your father.” Of course, I knew better than that.
“I’m going to build a boat.” I told anyone who would listen. They all laughed. I didn’t care. I was going to build a boat!
When I finally had my boat, I could sail away from all the doubts. I could drift off…
||When I finally had my boat, I could sail away from all the doubts. I could drift off…
Winter. I read books about boats. Sailboats, dinghies, skiffs, prams, punts, rowboats, johnboats, boats, boats.
Spring. I bought the plans and blueprints for boats: three different boats. I imagined my bedroom to be the White Star Line’s drafting room. Drawings, blueprints, models, boats!
Summer. Boatbuilding season. My dreaming, reading, and researching hadn’t convinced the critics. “You’re not actually going to build a boat.” “What do you know about building boats?” “When was the last time you were even in a boat?” “Where are you going to build this thing?” “What would you even do with a boat?” “It will sink.”
I bought wood. The wood salesman told me, “that wood isn’t meant for marine use.” Who knew that wood salesmen even existed?
I measured twice, marked and cut once. That was the only help that my father gave me. I glued, clamped and screwed. A boat was starting to take shape. I sanded and smoothed. I primed and painted. Soon, I had a boat. I HAD A BOAT!
“Looks pretty nice, but I bet it’ll sink.” “You’ll put your foot right through the bottom.” “How are you going to get it to a lake?”
|“Nice boat,” I hear from the dock, “you build that yourself?” “Yeah,” I say, and shove off.
It floats. “It floats?” Yes, it floats. I built a boat. It floats. My boat floats! I have a boat!
I get some strange looks each time I drive up to dock with my little green boat tied atop my jeep. I untie it and set it in the water. “Nice boat,” I hear from the dock, “you build that yourself?” “Yeah,” I say, and shove off.