About 12 years ago I started to build my Theil inspired Escargot. It was a watershed moment in my life, especially with my young son struggling through a life threatening genetic disorder. This was before blogs, but I wrote one about my build, and included my struggles with my son. It was the perfect catharsis. (I started a Yahoo group on Shantyboats, too.) Through the years these hundreds of pages of content became the top item in any search on Shantyboats, though others have joined me, now. As a result, when a production company gets the idea to do a show on shantyboats, they call and write me. Actually, I’ve been contacted a half dozen times in the past couple of months, as they look for the perfect shantyboaters for their new reality show.
After all this time I don’t know many shantyboaters, as those I do know are the last people in the world who would want to be on a reality show. (If you are interested go to the Yahoo Groups Shantyboat gathering as they are posting there right now.) Mostly, we are dreamers, people who want to shed the stress and heartburn of our regular lives in favor of a fantasized drift down the river. Our dreams are fed by Hubbard’s Shantyboat, and by each other.
It’s a life I am working to make a reality, in some form at least. I have WAY too many possessions to be a real shantyboater, plus, my wife has no intention of going in this direction. As a result, I plan to grab the lifestyle in bits and pieces, catch as catch can, creating my shantyboat adventures between trips to concert halls, Europe, and to visit my kids. I’m half shantyboat, half upper middle income baby boomer with cars, a motorcycle and technology no more than a few feet from me no matter where I go in the house.
I am on vacation this week, and am spending it getting myself ready, emotionally at least, for the coming retirement years. Today, that meant working on my old Escargot, which I call Shambala. After 12 years of service and some neglect, my son, now a recent boat building school graduate, says it’s rotten through and through. When he announced this, about a year ago, I just couldn’t deal with it. That moderately well paying job comes with a truckload of stress, and I didn’t need to spend my time tearing apart my dream. I let the boat sit in a barn for a year. Ugh. I didn’t visit it once.
As a part of my future planning, I decided to deal with it. Sunday I went to visit and found, much to my relief, that my son.. and I.. had let our imaginations go a bit wild. Lex is a delightful young man, and his talents are well beyond my own when it comes to boat building, but my pragmatic streak doesn’t seem to have taken hold in his mind. At times he can be rather all or nothing. The “damage” had come from a winter with the boat out at my sisters mini-farm. I’d covered the boat with tarps, but unbeknownst to me, they had blown off. The boat then filled with water. When I went to retrieve it there must have been one or two hundred gallons of water in the boat… or so it seemed when I peered inside. I pumped it out, brought it home…. go the pronouncement from my son… used a git-rot sort of chemical on it… and left it for a year. An imagination filled year later I went to check on it, now in a secure and covered barn, and it all seemed SO much better.
Today I took it out in the sunshine for the first time in a year, washed it.. and stood back to admire my handiwork. This is going to work. This is going to be OK.
Later this week I will be going out for a couple of days. I can’t wait!