Custom Search
   boat plans
   gift certificates
Join Duckworks
Get free newsletter
on this site
by Dan Rogers - Diamond Lake, Washington - USA

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

When I called Kate to the back door, again.  And when I asked her to bring the box of band aids and maybe a paper towel.  Again.  She had two rather legitimate questions.  First, “Why don’t you come inside?”  Well.   Around this house it’s considered bad form to get blood on the hardwood floors.  OK.

Second.  “Isn’t there a message here?”  Well, probably.  Either, I’m really not supposed to take this boat trip that has required soooooo many repair parts, tools, and aching joints to get ready.  Or. Or, I’m just supposed to EARN IT.

For the moment, I’ll go with the latter.  About one more disaster, and I’ll maybe consider another course of non-action.  Anyhow.

Everybody who has ever called a boat their own, has certainly stalled off on doing this or that task as simply “TOO HARD.”  Well, I had one of those today.  And, at face value, it just couldn’t be too hard.  Three bolts, three nuts.  One small aluminum angle-thingie-part.  A couple drill holes: one half-inch, the other about three-eights give or take.  Yep.  That’s it.  Except.

Those bolts and nuts and other parts have been dipped in and out of both fresh and salt water off an on for about 30 years.  Give or take.  There are about five or seven coats of paint interspersed with rust and road gunk.  And, the best part.  While you can actually see the articles in question; they are somewhat difficult to get to.

Waaaayyyyyy down under about 1,500 pounds of boat, if you put your sternum on the supporting bracket for the catwalk that is fastened to the fender and stick your head in the 6 inch clearance gap and reach waaaaaayyyy back in there, you can actually put your hand on the “spot.”  It looks sort of like this:

Actually, that’s what it looks like, now that I got it fixed.  A few hours back, things were more like a broken wing, dangling rather accusingly.

All it took was a breaker bar, pipe wrench, several deep and shallow sockets of various denominations, a nail puller bar, sawzall with extra-long metal cutting blade, floor jack, “custom lifting appliance,” a full lexicon of cuss words, and yes, several band aids. 

This is more like the view of the scene of the crime, to the actual participants.

About 1.5 arm lengths beyond any decent place to kneel.  Anyhow.

This is my comeuppance for sort of towing Lady Bug over a mud flat on her side while using the trailer as a sort of fulcrum for the tow strap.  Sort of.  At any rate, I have a whole new appreciation for the adhesive qualities of mild steel held in close proximity with aluminum, and asked to play well with salt water from time to time.  You could say, they become “fast friends” from the experience. 

A few more jobs, and it’ll be time to load the Dinty Moore and dry socks….


With due homage to Roger Whittaker, my ship lies rigged and ready in the driveway.  Tomorrow for Olympia she trails…

I won’t tell you what my plans are, as planning has become a difficult thing for me of late.  Yes, I’m quite adept at scheduling work, and even more adept at getting said work completed.  It’s the unforeseen stuff that keeps getting in the way.

I put in a very intense six weeks or so, getting “Roughneck” ready for this trip.  Interior mods and finishing details.  Exterior trim.  Windows.  Weather stripping and caulking.  I even spent an entire night shift disassembling and attempting to convert the usable parts of five or six outboard motor control boxes and cable assemblies into one functioning unit.  FIVE or SIX of ‘em, with different, incompatible, almost-gonna-fit springs, cogs, cams, levers, push cables, terminal ends, wiring harness’ and about a hundred or more screws, bolts, pins, and such.  After six or more hours, I finally gave up in defeat and went with the too-short unit that I had originally installed and then decided “I can do better than that…”

I put the “V” in perseverance.  Both “G’s” in dogged.  Even an “E” and maybe a “T” in creative.  But, ultimately all this frenetics came to absolutely zip point nada.  One of my last punch list items was to simply grease the wheel bearings on “Roughneck’s” trailer.  Egads!  I have absolutely no idea how that poor specimen has been rolling so smoothly and even how it has kept the wheels attached to the spindles this long.  Probably the like of a poured babbit bearing formed out of congealed grease and metal filings.  Even that went on the punch list for a big-deal trailer swap.  Until.

Until, I decided to do one more functional engine test in the water barrel.  And, it was probably a good thing.  One big problem that I had decided would not be a problem for this trip anyway, and a brand new problem that I didn’t expect to even surface both “happened’ when I started up the main engine.  Of course, there is a second motor aboard - wouldn’t leave home without it.  It was just what that proverbial camel named as the “last straw.”  So.

So, time to give it up and shift to another boat and trailer.  Good ol’ “Lady Bug” has been in semi-retirement for two or three years, now.  And, following my fiasco, last November, with grounding on a sub-surface rock pile and subsequent hijinks at getting her dragged over a mud bar and onto the trailer had left her with a repair list that should have required a month or more to satisfy.  Well, that was about a week ago.  Suffice it to say, “We are substantially ready.”  I’m out of time, and will simply take it as it comes.  More, or less.

This event that I instigated way back last fall, is upon us. 


The venue is about 400 road miles away for me.  The expected boats range from a 45 foot classic woodie motor vessel down to an open rowing wheery.  There are a few Michalak’s in the mix, a Bolger or two, even another stock fiberglass sloop, or more.  The idea is to meet up at a launch ramp near a bridge crossing south Puget Sound to an island that has a cove at the north end with moorage and camping facilities.  That particular rendezvous is several days hence.  It’s been unseasonably warm and dry hereabouts and “over there” for the past several days.  Of course, there’s rain in the forecast.  Of course.  Hopefully, there won’t be late-season snow in the pass for me and my wagon train to negotiate.  I’ve allowed several days to make the drive and the water transits in order to meet up with folks who have “planned” to attend.  Perhaps, that will all work out.  Hope it will. 

Come sunup, the preparations end.  The voyage begins.  After that?  Well, I guess we’ll see…


At least back when Jack Lord and his sidekick, Dann-o, ran the police department in Five-Oh land.  Maybe still?  They had a saying, “Smile! Suck-ah!  Doan gohnna brrokkkke yer faccce!  I always figured that meant something like, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, you ain’t got much else OK to laugh at…” 


This is sort of one of those stories.  About having to laugh at myself.  Sort of an epilogue to the Drizzle Cruise.  Sort of.

You see.  I managed to work on two or three boats, a couple trailers, a couple tow vehicles, several motors, and acquired/found/lost/changed/loaded/unloaded camping gear for all the above.  This effort spread itself over about two or three shifts a day for about one point seven five months.  Just about everything broke, or looked like it would break, didn’t fit, or sort of just didn’t seem the right piece at the time.  We’re talking Joe Btzflk of Lil’Abner fame.  You know.  The guy with the perpetual black cloud over his head.  Yeah.  That guy.


I finally settled on the wrong boat with the wrong tow vehicle on the wrong weekend with the wrong weather.  Grin.  Chortle. There were reasons for all that careful choosing.  I probably even wrote some of ‘em down.  Might have even told you, at the time.


Starting tomorrow, or maybe it’s tonight.  We’re gonna’ have rain and some snow and maybe then the weather will start getting ugly.  Tomorrow is that equinoctial event so often rhapsodized about in rhyme with words like “blossom” and “a young man’s fancy,” and “soft and balmy, fragrant breeze…”  Stuff like that.  The rain chance is a full one -hundred percent.  The snow chance is a bit less.


I thought today would be an excellent day to sort of see if I could get part of my chips back on the winning side of the table.  Yeah, right.  I thought it would be just a cool thing to hook ol’ "Lady Bug" up to ol’ Big Ole and go down to the ol’ launching ramp.  Maybe go sailing.  A novel concept, sure.  Of course, I had to drop off that trailer spare that refused to hold air on the trip over the mountains and through the rain.  And, I had to stop and get an estimate on more repairs for the van.  Nothing’s too good for a 23 year old truck with a quarter-million odo’s on his odo-meter.  There were a few more stops.  But, then I was off and running for the launch ramp.  We’re going sailing…

You know, how there’s that little voice that says, “…no you ain’t…”  Yeah, that voice. 

Welllllll, anyway, there was good ol’ Joe Btzflk with his trusty sailboat at the ramp.  Getting ready to launch said SAIL boat.  And, then, put up those SAILS.  And, go SAIL-ing.  Just what the doc ordered.  Except.

In a fit of orderliness and organization when I got home from that trip in the rain; I put the sails up in the loft with the idea that "Lady Bug" was gonna’ get stored for a while, and I’d work on other projects.  The only thing that would make orderliness and organization a bit more useful?  A similar faculty for REMEMBERING when you do stuff like that.

Sooooooo, tomorrow’s spring.  When the days get longer than the nights.  Gonna’ probably snow.  I think I’ll stay home and break - er, fix - something. 

To comment on Duckworks articles, please visit one of the following:

our Yahoo forum our Facebook page