I was pushing it, and I knew it. I’d been working on my little microshantyboat, off and on, for coming up on two years. Mostly off. Now that I could start to see elements of boat in it, I wanted to try it out. My son said I was pushing it and should hold off. I didn’t deny.. I didn’t confirm.. but I did push forward. Lex went into the house, and next thing I know my wife is outfront asking if I was nuts? Not as in “are you nuts?!”. More like a genuine question… “Lex thinks you are nuts. Are you?” I assured her it was like trying on a sweater that wasn’t quite done. I’d seen her do that frequently as she knits constantly… and like me, can’t wait to see if she is going in the right direction or not. I assured her it would be no problem… it was the same thing. Except in this case I was heading off in an unfinished boat on a VERY cold day just as the sun was maybe 45 minutes away from setting… heading out into a very large lake. Just a bit more dangerous, is all.
I lashed the boat down to my small trailer… one of those 5 by 8 garden tractor like trailers with a fold-down gate. Not ideal for the task at hand. The trailer must be sized like lumber, where a two by four isn’t. My boat is eight feet long, but I couldn’t raise the gate unless a few inches of boat was hanging off the front rail. As I drove the boat’s cute front hatch sat solidly in my rear window. This would be OK. (turns out that this used trailer I bought is 7 by 5.. not 8 by 5!)
As I predicted… as I hoped.. there was nobody at the ramp. A Saturday night in December at 3:45 or so, temperatures in the low 30′s, isn’t really prime beach time. After much fiddling with the ramp, lines, the trolling motor and battery, and hatches… I was off…. off the trailer slowly floating out toward the lake.
It was immediately obvious the boat was tender. The boat and I share the same weight, and as I moved about the boat reacted rather noticeably. As I moved to sit on that fancy back seat hanging off the stern, it was clear my position would be far more secure in the center of the boat. Even at rest that rear seat was precarious. I could sit there, but it places the boat at enough of an angle I wouldn’t want to.
I switched on the trolling motor. It worked and was clearly plenty powerful. It was also clear that those skegs I’d thought of installing in rows across the bottom were going to be needed. As I turned the outboard the boat would simply move in the direction of thrust, foregoing any sense of a turn at all. To the trolling motor, there was no bow or stern. I’ll need to add skegs to act as a keel.
When I pulled the boat out of the water it wall went wrong. The trolling motor fell into a couple of inches of water… the head of it. The boat wouldn’t slide forward on the trailer far enough to allow me to raise the rear gate, and the car got stuck in the sand and just barely made it off the ramp. Much spinning of tires with little forward motion.
Was it a success? Hmm. I am going to have to do some rethinking on how to use this boat. But yes… I think it will work. I think. Not sure.