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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Piece of Plywood and An Afternoon: A Day in a Life

Plywood, caulk, stain and paint equals a nifty craft, on
her maiden launch.
 by Kathleen Blease

That piece of plywood was stored in the garage for a good five years. Our thirteen-year-old son, Max, eyed it the other day. Hmm. He had an idea.

He spent a few afternoons planning and building, sketching out his idea, then measuring and cutting. Next came the trim, then the sanding, caulking, and painting...and a few prayers from his old Mom, as I watched him from the kitchen window. Please let it float. Please let it float. I saw a second or two of the YouTube video that inspired Max, and the boatmaker well in his 30s was slowly blessing himself right before "putting in."

Yesterday, just before dinner, Max decided it was time for the maiden launch. Max secretively made plans on how he was going to pull it out from the muddy bottom of the pond should it sink, but his dad and I didn't ask. I wouldn't be surprised if he had supposed that he would employ his father and his Jeep Wrangler that's equipped with a tow strap--a driver and kit that has had plenty of experience at Jeep Jamborees. We even joked about turning the little boat into a flower box, and Max suggested what we could plant in it.

The moment fnally came. He carried it to the water's edge with his brother's help and slipped it off the bank. His dad and I were watching from inside when we saw him flip off his socks and shoes. Oh, we just had to see this! All kidding was put aside, and the four of us held our breath as the boat slipped into the water. Max wiggled into the tiny craft, got himself situated...Don't lean back, Max! Don't lean back, Max! we called out as the boat's bow reached sky and the stern dipped into the water. Working his way into the center, he jammed his knees against the sides and found his ballist.

It took a little practice, but once he got the hang of it, he was able to zip around the pond and show us how the boat could be nimble--in the right hands and with the right touch.

Knees against the side and steady as she goes!
 Max would normally wear a PFD (life jacket) but the pond
is only a few feet deep these days.

Getting the hang of it.

As I watched my son put his water craft to the test, I couldn't help but think, What a great way to spend an afternoon!

But to Max, well he's a builder, so it's all just a day in a life, albeit he is riding high on adrenaline. Of course, he's planning another afternoon excursion on the little boat he has yet to name, while improvements on the design will surely be buzzing around in his head.

What a great way to spend an afternoon!


  1. How inventive! Love this! Great pics too.

  2. I love to hear about kids who are outside using their brain... My kids do similar things. Love to hear about what he does next.

  3. @Debbie... He tried to tip it (in all seriousness) :P

  4. Readers,

    Ben of "Elijah and Ben" is Max's older brother.

    Yes, Max did try to tip it, to see just how stable it can be. In fact, after some effort, he finally decided to just stand up in the boat. Surely that would do it. Of course, readers, you should know that he was in only a few feet of water. Just how stable the boat would be in deep water we have yet to find out. But when Max stood up, up and over he went while the little craft righted itself.

    Max tried to stand up and found himself wallowing in the shallow pond's muck! He dragged himself out of the mess and hauled the boat out of the pond. Then, Ben had a great time hosing off his brother with icy well water. What big brother wouldn't??

    These are what the days of summer are supposed to be, no?


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