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by Eric Dahlkamp - Idaho Falls, Idaho - USA

My six year old grandson is absolutely enamored with fish and fishing. He knows fish names, where they live, what they eat, supposedly how to catch them, and all sorts of other trivia. No idea what sparked this interest. I got an early start with boating as a child in Luanda, Angola, Africa where I was raised. I felt I could do the same for him. In the June Splash issue I shared the 18" toy boat I started him with.

Last week we launched his 8' boat, "Sheila". The design is a One Sheet Wonder with modifications.

It had to be little for a small framed boy to handle easily. It also needed enough real boat qualities to wet his appetite for the future. And it especially needed lots of places to attach his "gear". He's a gear guy!

He just recently started fishing with hooks. Up to now he has not wanted to hurt the fish and would cast with a wad of net tied to the line. This all changed suddenly when an uncle introduced him to actually landing the fish! So when I asked him what he needed in a boat he had just one request - a rod holder. I made it out of PVC which attaches to the stern. It's removable. The hatch into the foredeck came next to stow his gear. A removable seat attaches to the inside gunnel that lets him balance the load by sitting on the bottom when carrying passengers. The paddles stow so he could have room when fishing.

Back porch workshop
Epoxy setting
Grandpa boatbuilding
Garage workshop


Ready to paint
On her way across the desert
Getting ready
Mom and kids
Dad and son off fishing
Safe and sound in bedroom

The little boat turned out real nice. The hull is one sheet of 1/4" marine ply. That kept it cheap considering marine ply is so pricey. Paint is marine Rustoleum. The finished boat was delivered to Lake Tahoe where my son, his dad, was swimming the length to raise awareness about the crisis in the Congo. This video is also about the crisis in the Congo.

The whole family loves the boat. When not in the water Sheila now lives with him in his bedroom. When he got it home I am told he cleaned it all up and talked his parents into letting him keep it in his bedroom leaning up against the wall where he can see it as he falls asleep. The idea must have come to him when we saw a rowboat bookshelf standing on its stern in a Lake Tahoe store. He's a real little boat man!

Mom and Dad have had to adjust their lifestyle somewhat. They bought a roof rack for their Ford Taurus and now will go to local lakes, ponds and reservoirs much more often. The only limitation is the little boat has no floatation so it's a shore hugger - for now. Let the adventures begin!

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