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My Old Yacht (a Hubnugget Winner!)
This Hub is a Hubnugget Winner!
Wasn't She A Thing of Beauty
As I sit here reminiscing about my past, looking for writing material, and thinking whimsical thoughts, and of course then realizing how stressed the world has become today, I am gently wafted back to when I was a much quizzical younger lad wondering, whatever happened to to my first motorless water craft? A really old wooden,beat up, and delapidated rowboat which I treasured greatly while rowing through the waves and swells and spent many an hour with friends and relatives fishing, swimming, diving off of, that is provided you could swim and/or dive at all, or just using her for my own safety and refuge, as I hid from Dad out on the lake just out of his reach, those times yours truly had done something to upset him.
The Yacht (honestly, that's what she was still called when I got her in 1962 around when I was only 11), was built in the 1950s by a couple of local retired shipbuilders who happened to be my Dad's second cousins. She was originally built to haul material across the local lake, as way back then roads were not accessible to some of the logging camps and local businesses and cottages, and so they polled through shallow water following the lake's contour to get to the other side. Imagine that? The Yacht was 16 feet long by 5feet wide in the center, with only 1 seat in it. It was created of several, 1"x 16' long plywood pieces molded together to give it shape. After this, completely continuing to use plywood, they built the bow (at the front), then the floor which had to be re-inforced with light steel on the bottom, and then the rear of the boat was added, a 2" thick piece called the stern, (flat rear piece) nailing it so it would stay together forever. They then applied a very thick coat of shellac, (this is a sort of epoxy glaze used for bonding still found in some nail polishes available yet today) to completely seal her, thus becoming waterproof. Sometimes I was told this shellac process was re-done 3-4 times by Uncle Jean, but I was never much of a ship maker. The idea was once you got this thing to float at all, it was going to be in the water until it rotted. You didn't carry it or portage it and because of the weight you were not gonna lift it very far or high either! Imagine trying to fit that monster on your roof racks today? Thank goodness, by the mid 60's they discovered the use of lighter made woods, for prefab factory built boats with engines, but back then they were built tough as nails literally colorless,and unsinkable, to carry heavy logs, other plywood pieces, gear, equipment, provisions, or whatever was needed to help build people's homes and futures on the other side of the lake.
So in 1960 the old boat was terminated from work, as the owners discovered newer modern water vessels and ways of water travel. The relatives by 1961 then, just left her tied up alongside their dock mainly because she was too heavy and bulky to get out of the water. Well it just so happened, two local teenaged kids in early June 1961 (whom the police caught the very same evening) decided to steal the afore mentioned Yacht from the relatives' homedock in broad daylight during a summer storm. They made their clean getaway with her, roughing her up and breaking the lock and rowing out to the middle of the lake where it was getting quite rough, they found their way closer to the shore, proceeded to row near our campsites, where they soon were quite scared by the whole event, half capsized, and became imbedded in weeds, at which point they panicked, jumped out into 4' ft. of water, and just left the vessel right there semi-afloat, and water logged but abandoned, they slithered away into the vast swampy island bush undergrowth. Thank goodness the next morning from our own dock my Dad discovered the lost treasure, then mentioned to me that he thought that it was Jean's boat and we should see what was going on? So we hopped in our family craft, started the engine (I can still smell the old 12 HP Elgin engine smoking and chugging along the water as I write this) and got next to the old semi sunken boat. Then we proceeded back to camp to the shed, which in it was a telephone that all the local campers nearby agreed to use (when necessary); an aged antiquated windup type wall phone, you had to crank to use, (way before the cellphone was discovered huh) trying to get thru to the party you dared call. Dad after several tries, called Jean to inform him of what had happened. To make a long story short, Jean told my Dad in no uncertain terms, that as far as he was concerned " they caught the thieves, so you can keep that piece of @#$%^*# for yourself." WOW!! Elated, I immediately asked Dad if I could have it, and he said "sure, why not, as long as you are the one who'll get it back to the dock in one piece".
Yessiree Daddy! Without missing a beat, scampering away I found a 2 gallon pail empty, almost instantly and literally waded through the 4 foot water to the boat and got in, and started to bail it out recklessly, pail by pail. The harder I bailed, the more the vessel seemed to lift, and the more it looked floatable. I achieved my almost surreal impossible goal, called out to Dad who was on the dock watching me whimsically, who quickly came out, met me and helped me tie her to his boat, where we proceeded towing her to our dock where I guided her in like she was a piece of glass. Though the Yacht had been saved, oars tied to the oarlocks so as not to lose them, one bracket had become broken, unhinged during the storm by those durned kids and had to be replaced. That very afternoon Dad and I changed it with Uncle Jean's help, (he had come to visit us). We scavenged and found the items needed right in our own tool shed, and bravely installed the new hardware, paid by my doing menial chores for my Dad for the rest of the summer. Honestly, I could have thought less about work of any kind. I was literally on top of the world as I crouched on the dock in the warm sunshine, bare toed and shirtless, half sunburnt, admiring my very own boat. I was only 11 years old. There on the stern, someone had scribbled in black those immortal two words "THE YACHT".I yelled that out at the echo on the lake several times.
The very next day with Dad's permission and both of us seeing she hadn't sank overnight, I was given permission to test it out but "stay close to shore and get one of the lifejackets out of the shed and promise you'll wear it" which I did anyway because deep down I was a chicken little when it came to deep water. As Dad pushed me away from the dock I immediately became the master of my own domain, Captain Blye set to sail the seas freely, off on any adventure that could present itself. Inserting both oars into the water, I began rowing (I was taught at nine how to row), and MY Yacht began sashaying effortlessly through the water, from one side of the bay, right to the other, as I continued getting braver on each circuit, but relenting and finally obeying Father when he told me, "OK bring it in". As the summer of 61 progressed me and my Yacht were thisclose. I had her until April 1970 enjoying and relishing every moment of every summer where I could be seen rowing her relentlessly, gliding across the bay, not a care in the world, visiting relatives, fishing, having fun, even in the most inclement weather. Mom and Dad were hard pressed to keep me out of my prized Yacht. After all this old seadog, (my middle name is Hector by the way), would not be stopped as long as there was daylight or I had any arm strenght left.
Well, all good things must finally come to an end, so when I started to work for a living in 1970 I gave her to my young 13 year old cousin who had always wanted her and he too had her for quite a few years. Some believe that later, she sank near the cottages after a hard winter had taken its toll on the old Yacht. But this was never proven. I prefer to believe the Old Yacht is still being used every summer by some excited overeager kids who get to enjoy what I did way back then. So with a tug at my heart and a tear in my eye I whisper Sail on!!
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