The boat of no return

Ed Rood

With all the beautiful weather we have been blessed with lately, I doubt if there are many of us who have not been bit by the old boating bug.

A friend once told me that the two happiest days in a boater’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it. That may be true, but there still isn’t any shortage of boat owners. If you watch the roads in central Iowa, you’ll see boats of all sizes, shapes and varieties being transported to the various bodies of water this area now boasts.

Although there was a time when lakes in central Iowa were nearly nonexistent, that didn’t keep the local populace from developing a love for boats. I can remember a time – long, long ago – when Slick and I decided to get in the boating business by building our own boat.

We weren’t very old at the time, but both of us had been blessed with a creative imagination. One wet spring we were out exploring various puddles in and around town when we came up with the idea of creating our own boat. An especially big ditch pond next to an old fuel bulk plant was our inspiration.

We had stripped off our shoes and socks, rolled up our pant legs and waded around the pond for several hours in search of aquatic wonders. We could just imagine all the turtles, craw daddies and lizards waiting to be caught.

We soon decided that wading wasn’t going to produce the desired results. We needed to float on top of the water to really get to the good stuff. That’s when the idea of a boat hit us.

Finding suitable lumber for such a project wasn’t going to be easy. Not without raiding our fathers’ woodpiles. Naturally, we did that during the day while our fathers were safely at work.

It wasn’t long until we were in the boat building business. With Slick handing the saw and me wielding the hammer, our yacht began to take shape.

First we nailed three boards in the shape of a stretched-out triangle, then we cut several small boards to make the bottom. We nailed a couple of boards across the top for seats and added some tin across the front (bow) to help keep the water out.

We slid our completed project atop Slick’s red flyer wagon and started the long journey from my house to the bulk plant. We made certain that our route took us down main street where we met several “Doubting Thomases,” who made unflattering remarks about our “anchor.”

We finally reached the shores of the ditch, and following a long debate concerning which end of the boat to launch first, our dream was floating.

First Slick jumped in and then I followed. Soon a little water began to slowly seep in through the slits between the boards that we had thought we had filled with tar. Suddenly, something sounded like a big gulp and the next thing we knew we were sitting on the bottom of the puddle.

Nearly every kid in town was in attendance. They were laughing so hard a couple of them nearly fell in the puddle as well.

We took the longest possible route home that night. Not only did we want to avoid as many people as possible, we were also hoping to dry out before our parents saw us.

Ed Rood is former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.