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by Jeremy Kelley - Leander, Texas - USA

or "May I build a boat for your musical?"

My kid's music teacher mentioned a school production involving fishermen, so of course I offered to build her a boat for the stage. She agreed, with the following specifications:

- very boaty;
- small enough to be out of the way when the kids sing and dance.

My wife added one more design request:

- use ONLY scrap wood from the garage!

Challenge accepted.

Working under those constraints, I knew I could also make something that would actually sail. Maybe it wouldn't sail well, but it'd definitely sail!

In my mind, I wanted something with a bit of a curve to give it that salty look, high freeboard so the kids would feel safe, and that it could take a sail and rudder.

It took me about 2 weekends of tinkering in the garage to get the hull done.

I started by cutting out most of the large pieces from some 1/4" Lauan ply. For a transom, I eyeballed a semi-sane shape and cut it out of a piece of 1/2" ply. I then cut two slots in the stem to fit the sides into. Once the sides were glued into the stem, I curved them back and glued them to the transom.

The lauan is easy to work with, so this wasn't a big deal. At this time, I also cut out and then attached the mast partner. In my mind, this would act as a bit of a bulkhead. This gave me the basic shape I was hoping for - a bit of curve, simple, but with a nice look.

The first shot where I realized this might work.

It was at this point, that my three little helpers decided maybe I was onto something and started spending a lot more time out in the garage, helping. "Helping." :)

As soon as the glue had dried on the basic hull, they insisted we attach the bottom and "Go Show Mom!"

Here you can see a little kitchen sailing as we showed off our progress.

After the kitchen tour had completed, we glued on some chines to the interior bottom edges so that there'd be enough of an edge to glue the bottom. I realized I had enough from my long rip of the chines to make rub rails/outwales, so those got glued on also.

And here we go, ready for a bit of sanding and the first coat of paint.

Next step was a bit of sanding and the generous application of glossy latex paint. There was definitely a lot of help for this step.

While the paint was drying, we made a mast by shoving a piece of emf conduit into some PVC. For a boom, we just used PVC and it's worked well so far. The sail got cut out of an old canvas tarp and hemmed on The Mom's sewing machine. For the rudder, we used more scraps of 1/2" ply and a couple of eye bolts and tent stake for pintles and gudgeons. Worked pretty well all in all.

A little bit of rope here and there, maybe 2 or 3 cleats, and she was finished about 2 weeks before the play.

The Naming.

In lieu of a naming ceremony, I did a simple post on facebook with a pic of her fully rigged. It was well received by friends and family.

May the God of the sea, the rivers, the ponds and the puddles bless this little craft. May the PondTreader carry her sailors through rough seas and quiet drifts. May her sailors learn that sometimes, the only way to turn is where the God of the winds will take you. And, we pray, may she always return her passengers safely back to shore, to share tall tales of great deeds and even greater graces.

To you, my friends of the facebook, I present - The PondTreader.

Float Test and the Future

At this point, we had to wait about 2 weeks for the school musical (it looked GREAT up on stage) but the next day we took it out to our neighborhood pool to see if it'd even float. (I never doubted!!).

After that, we took it to the local lake the next weekend and the kids had a blast. I tied about 50ft of rope to it, would give them a shove and they'd sail out away from shore to the end of the rope, get tugged back in, and repeat. It worked wonderfully.

And there she goes.

Future enhancements for the PondTreader MkII:

- floatation;
- some sort of keel/skeg;
- lead in the rudder so it sinks automatically.

That's it for our little boat. My 4yo, 7yo, and 10yo all LOVED it and have asked to go sailing again. I am thankful for my wife for being so supportive of my goofy hobbies, the school's music teacher for letting me build a boat for her play, and to my wonderful helpers/new sailing buddies.

See you out on the water!

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