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by Dave Lucas – Bradenton, Florida – USA

Can't Keep a Boatbuilder Down

Here's an example of boat design gone wild. Our friend Austin designed and built this boat. It's a sailboat/motor boat combo. It looked funny at first sight but when you examine it closely it actually makes sense, in a "had one too many" kind of way. It needs some work but we're going to make a high speed commuter out of it (high speed being relative).

Here's Chelsea getting some "warranty" work by Howard. It's been a couple years since it's had any engine maintenance and needed it's belts tightened, an almost overwhelming chore to the rest of us but a simple half hour project for him. He had the motor unbolted and hanging in the air in ten minutes. This is the Briggs and Stratton engine that's been in daily use in the salt water for almost five years, looks better than the one in your lawn mower. Whatever they're make out of sure resists salt corrosion.

The Florida Maritime Museum had a class on building skin on frame kayaks and got Dave Gentry to teach. This is Dave himself. If you need your frame skinned Dave's your man. I took this picture two days ago, notice the weather. I only mention this because Dave came down from somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay and they were having a blizzard with a foot of snow on the ground. His wife won't let them move here because it's too hot in the summer. I love to hear that, we're getting too crowded as it is.

Along those same lines and because it'll be spring in a couple of days, I'll share some that Greg G sent me from Buffalo, taken yesterday. Greg says that he can't come down for the small boat festival in Sarasota next month because his butt won't be grown back on by then, he froze it off this winter. Scenes like this look great to me down here in Florida, a real winter wonderland but I bet all my buddies up there would have a different take on it. Wonder what Lisa Marie thinks. She was born and raised here and got drug off up there by her man, time for a new man Lisa?

Museum John on his day off from slaving away at the maritime museum. John does lots of things there I guess and one of them is giving historical lectures about boaty things. I've never been to one and it's hard to imagine him giving a serious talk; all I ever get from him is a bunch of crap. This is an old canoe that he's cutting up and rebuilding. It don't make sense but that's what we do here.

That's not the Everglades Challenge boat we're making but if you've wondered where he got the basic design for that boat here it is. In 1886 this sailing canoe sailed across the English Channel and kicked butt on a lot of French boats of all sizes. Our boat looks almost exactly like this with the addition of a long bowsprit and a big roller furling jib for reaching and running. John knows exactly what he wants and won't let me deviate much from the picture he has in his head. He never lets me forget that I told him that if he designed it I would build it. He treats me just like my sons do, no respect.

Joseph Haley sent this one of a 50 year old Falcon sloop. I don't think I've ever seen a Falcon but it looks like he may actually use it sometime. This has to be in the south somewhere cause there's no snow and ice.

Crazy Steve, being the nice guy that he is invited Krystin to the shop to show her how masts were made. He already had the two 2x4's glued together so all she had to do was cut the tapers, plane the squares to make them round and then sand the whole thing to a smooth stick. Our magic rolling pin sander fell apart so she finished it by hand. I do have to admit that I wanted to take over the power planning part but she wouldn't let me. There's something really fascinating about running a sharp spinning blade down a piece of wood and seeing the chips flying out the side all over the place. Took her about four hours to do it all. Anywhere else it may be work but here at the shop everything is fun.

The Picnic launch is coming right along. This is the old 23 foot Sea Ray that Howard gutted of everything except the big V8 engine and outdrive. Starting over from scratch he's building a boat like he thinks it should look. It's huge, this is me, Helen and Lenna looking out the new window and Steve looking over the transom, drink in hand. Steve's old boss gets this email, who's laughing now sucker. There's still some question of who's going to fill up the hundred gallon gas tank.

Everything ends up being "repurposed" if it comes here. This is an old Lightening sailboat hull that Wally's converting into a cabin motor boat, I jumped in to check the height of the sides. Notice that I've switched to the summer uniform. We all get really upset if anyone tries to give us any advice; and besides how the hell could you give advice on any of the strange boats taking shape here at the happy hour club. Only the builder has any idea of what it's suppose to turn into and that changes daily.

That would be like trying to give this guy advice. Washington Dan is one more step over the top than we are. When it comes to cutting up old boats and doing strange stuff to them he's the grand master. It comes from living in "almost Canada" where the snow never melts and the moose come to drink your beer. This is his latest and it looks almost acceptable, kind of cute in fact. Dan's another one who's not at all hesitant about ripping it out and starting over if he doesn't like the way it's looking.

The West Coast Trailer Sailors just had a gathering down in Pine Island sound. I keep thinking that I'll go with them one of these days but it's really hard to give up my cozy bed. If I did it just once I'd probably be hooked so I need to just do it. They always have a good time.

Last is a link that Mark Bayne, boat builder at the Cape Fear Community College sent me showing that not one but two wind surfers finished the 300 mile Everglades Challenge in less than 8 days, must be some tough guys.

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