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by Roy Schreyer - Wasaga Beach, Ontario - Canada

Part One - Part Two

"Tiny" Houseboat Hits the Road - Part One

We had a great boating season in 2014 that ended with a bang. That was the sound of the trailer tire blowing soon after crossing the border. Dianne and I were returning to Canada, from an epic 7,000 km (4349.5983457 ml) two week road trip. In October we travelled all the way down to Port Aransas Texas! An outrageous distance to trailer our houseboat, DIANNE'S ROSE, especially when it only went in the water for a 24hr period, one overnight during the whole trip! But it was well worth it! We came back with some valuable lessons and made many new friends! The main objective was to take part in "The first annual Port Aransas PlyWooden Boats Festival". It was held October 18th, 19th and 20th. We were also pleased to have visited Sail Oklahoma, Mike and Jackie Monies wonderful gathering, on the way there!

Dianne, my wife, is the inspiration of my design, for those of you who don't know the story. Di is a reluctant boater, this design is intended to encourage her to enjoy boating and join me more often on outings. It's obviously working, as she did join me on this trip. It didn't stop us from having a total of five blowouts along the way, however, not too bad as two were trailer tires, and another two were just venting while changing the tires. These tensions deflated soon after the new inflated tires were installed! The big blow out happened during Sail Oklahoma. More on that later.


Chuck Leinweber and I have been chatting since DIANNE'S ROSE was built and I also have been following his web site, Duckworks Magazine long before this. There he announced the "Birth of a Boat Show". The show (festival), inclusive for all wooden boats, puts an emphasis on plywood boats. These have been around for some 80yrs but miss out on the respect "real wooden" boats get. Chuck has attended many wooden boat shows and feels Ply Boats seem to be "treated as orphans". He hoped this show would highlight the quality and opportunity, this style of boatbuilding brings to the masses. Chuck has many friends, and several were crucial in this shows creation. Frank Colette, President of the Traditional Small Craft Association and Rick Pratt, who runs the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association and is involved with FARLEY Boat Works were key during the birthing. Three Musketeers, each with a tiller in hand, rather than sword, comes to mind! I'm sure many more worked hard to make this show a reality. The Port Aransas Museum, Small Craft Advisor and other sponsors among them. We thank you all for your effort!

Several small miracles occurred on this trip, "she'll be the queen of the ball" Chuck's invite said! He must know my ego! Unfortunately there seemed no way we could make it. Too far, too expensive and our tow vehicle was too old. We would be traveling from Wasaga Beach, Ont. Canada! Dianne agreed it was a definite no! I recently took the leap from a good paying career to build boats to my own design! I could not let the idea of this show go, however, what better way to get some momentum in a new career than to take my first boat design to a festival that appreciates Ply boats! The houseboat has been well received by many magazines and the people may enjoy seeing her. Meeting like-minded people, to share some tricks of the trade, would also get me off to a running start! Having a friend or two myself, one heard the news of this opportunity and thought I should go, he insisted we use his 2014 van as the tow vehicle (no I did not beg)! This small miracle is why a definite "no" became an enthusiastic "yes"! I ignored the cost and the fact that I didn't even know if we could take our boat across the border! I quickly notified Chuck that we'll be there, not mentioning this small wrinkle. Three weeks to go before the show and we began preparations.

In Canada boats powered with less than 10hp need no registration but in the US I'm sure registration was needed. We'd find out at the border if the guards would let us across! Chuck was happy to hear we were coming and extended the invite to include Sail Oklahoma. As mentioned an event held by Mike and Jackie Monies. "Builders and designers will meet to sail their boats, It's the week before and not far out of your way! Think about it." That made too much sense and after a lovely email from Jackie saying we'd be welcome, ending in "Love Jackie", we chopped off another week of the prep time. The boat needed fresh varnish and paint and the trailer needed the bearings done. Busy till the last day, ready at last, October 8th we pulled out of the driveway for an early morning departure, 2 am! An added bonus was a Lunar Eclipse that night. I hoped when we reached the border the guards would be looking up and not look too closely at the boat I was trying to smuggle into their country! Of course they did look but saw a camper! The guard, a young gent, in charge of the interrogations asked "does that thing float"? Normally fighting words, but not wanting to start an international incident, I instead played along. "It's more of a camper when on the road" hoping he'd see the logic. There was truth in this as we used her like this for 75% of the trip! "Where are you going"? Again I needed to be cautious, uncertain how to pronounce Eufaula, the town and lake of our destination in Oklahoma. Telling this young fellow that "we were going to E-Fool-Ya", would not be wise (we now know it is "U-Fa-La")! Avoiding it all together, I only mentioned Port Aransas. "There is a festival there", I added, not wanting to mention it was a "boat festival" having already established the boat was not a boat! He allowed passage! Driving away, Di commented how the other guard spent her time caressing the woodwork, clearly appreciating our creation! This was the trend at every stop down and back, strangers approached wanting pictures and asking questions when we filled gas or parked for a break.

Happy to be allowed on US soil, but not so thrilled about the roads, the expansion joints between Port Hope and Gary near Chicago, had us bouncing like Bobble Heads. I tried to stay in the fast lane, which was smoother but not by much. Two long, 16 hr days on the road, and we arrived in Eufaula, Oklahoma at 8 pm, Thursday evening. In time to join everyone at the local buffet. We finally felt the warmth we expected this far south. We had broken through the cold front that tailed us all the way from Canada when crossing the state line. Now hoping it would not follow us any farther. Before entering the restaurant we hesitated, feeling a bit shy, as though we were crashing someone else's party! We really didn't know a single person other than from correspondence on the internet.

Stepping through the door the noise of a boisterous gathering hit us first, visually there was action everywhere! Friendly conversation, laughter and of course the queue by the buffet. Much of it centered on Mike and Jackie Monies' table where we too stepped up. Waiting our turn, we introduced ourselves, and while friendly enough, Jackie simply encouraged us to grab something to eat, hardly the excited welcome we'd expected, where was the love? While eating, I saw Chuck and when the opportunity came, we likewise made introductions. Also friendly but! Jackie interrupted the conversation and announced a hotel room was available due to a cancelation, "any takers". A very short pause and Dianne spoke up. I was surprised as we were planning to stay in the boat or at least I was! The boat had already come in handy at rest stops as a warm room on the cold drive down, thanks to a small woodstove. But Di was tired and wanted a hot shower after the long haul. Showing us the way to the hotel the mystery as to why our reception was underwhelming was discovered.

"OH MY GOODNESS" Jackie shrieked as she saw the boat. "YOU'RE DIANNE'S ROSE!!! I JUST LOVE YOUR BOAT"!!!... There was the love! Ok, so its boat names we should be using in our intros! And so it was for most of the gathering, we were known by our boat and with a half dozen Johns attending, and several Gene we too became guilty of this practice.

We Canadians were rightly blamed for the bad weather that descended on the event Friday. Cold, rainy and windy, Di was not supportive of my plan to launch regardless. I delayed it to listen to some great speakers up at the Boat Palace, among them distinguished designers. Many had travelled from far afield to be here. Michael Storer from the Philippines, John Welsford from New Zealand and Richard Woods from England. The slouches of the group were Matt Layden and Jim Michalak, who only travelled from the opposite ends of the US. Mike Monies asked the designers to introduce themselves. In the short time I spoke with Mike he was very encouraging. We enjoyed discussing boats together and he had plans to build a houseboat with some similarities to mine. Mike has no doubt mentored many and he surprised and flattered me, when he insisted I too step up with this notorious group. Thanks Mike, I very much appreciated you braking the ice! Dianne and I were very sad to here Mike has since passed away! I know this is a loss to many and we can only offer our condolences!

When I saw a lull in the weather I insisted on launching the boat in spite of Di's protests! After all we'd come a long way to show people this was more than a camper and that it does float! DIANNE'S ROSE needed the better Hwy 9 North Corps Camp Ground Launch, 5 min. down the high way. So after a bit of coordinating she was in the water at last. The lightning could again be seen on the horizon as a fresh storm was blowing in. No worries, I'll just stand on my rubber mat! I was just happy to be on the water. Lake Eufaula is a reservoir lake where two rivers meet, one is called the Canadian River of all things. In my element, this added to my feeling of being at home! With miles of interesting waters to explore the lake is a worthwhile destination but caution is required due to the many submerged stumps. Watching for these I missed my chance to take a photo on my approach to the beach that was lined with boats. It made for quite a sight! The rain was now coming down and the wind blowing stronger warning of what was to come. Many more boats remained parked up on the grass (they were waiting for better weather and had wiser captains). Shortly after the anchors were set (I set two) the storm arrived sending people up to the Boat Palace (Mikes boat shop), myself among them. None of the scheduled boat events on the water took place this day but things have a way of working out.

Strong winds, that needed leaning into when walking, and rain continued with only temporary lulls. Thank goodness I took DR off the beach during one and tucked her into the mouth of a creek against the shore. We had some protection there but it still rocked against the sandy shore making a disconcerting sound. "It's going wear a hole in the bottom!" "No it won't" started the debate between Di and I when we turned in for the night. The woodstove was warming the cabin so we were fine but the hard wind, waves and sideways rain made it our worst night out to date. This was against my normal rule of keeping things tranquil aboard to encourage Dianne's participation. Here was our fifth blow out that I put off telling you about.

"We should have stayed on the trailer" Dianne commented. "What if there is a tornado"? I pointed out that we were actually safer in the water when comparing the two locations but to little avail! Out of desperation I entered into negotiations. "Tomorrow I want a hotel"! Ok. "The next day too"! Ok. "And the boat needs to be put back on the trailer"! Ok!!! I know, I really didn't get to negotiate but it was the best I could manage! On the up side I did hear Di snoring several times that night as I stayed up to stoke the fire and check anchors! The Presto 3 was nearby and I checked on her a couple times. She banged about on the beach until she ended up half way on it! The next morning our boat was unharmed and had proven its ruggedness. I think many envied our comfort after their night, where many had abandoned ship for the comfort of their vehicles.

True to my word, I motored the boat back to the ramp but was pleased that Mike Monies, Tom Pamperin, his brother and nephew joined me. The waves had settled some but I was able to demonstrate the boat's qualities! During our outing Dianne had met up with Karen Layden, Matt's lovely wife. I tried to be nonchalant when Di introduced me but it was hard knowing Matt's reputation in the small boats world. We ended up enjoying their company with my dignity in tact! That evening ended in a wonderful concert and of course the hotel I'd agreed to!



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