A Modest Proposal 5.1


” Even if you’ve never actually seen a snow frog, certainly you’re familiar with their mating calls. And, I suppose I should take my share of the credit for such a successful snow frog mating season, this year. “

Dan’s plan

Weather, is not for wimps.

Even if you’ve never actually seen a snow frog, certainly you’re familiar with their mating calls. And, I suppose I should take my share of the credit for such a successful snow frog mating season, this year. You see. In January, I made the fateful decision to move Gypsy Wagon, this year’s Frankenbot, from the warm and dry shop out into the cold and wet driveway. There was more to it. I had this cockamamie notion, that it would be real convenient to put that boat back on the trailer and be ready for sea trials. For the past three or maybe four Building Seasons I’ve pretty much done just that, in late January. There was new snow on the hillsides, from time to time. Sometimes melting berms around the launch ramp parking lots. But, that was about that. Not this year.

Poor Gypsy Wagon has been stranded out in the elements for over a month now. There’s been ice storms. Rain. Snow. More ice. More rain. More snow – maybe another couple feet. The Spring Equinox is within a short hop of a snow frog away. And, it’s still piling up. Desperate times, call for desperate measures.

About the only thing for me to do, is to put GW back on her building cart, and haul her back into the shop. I’ll no doubt have to pull something important off, drill holes into something that shouldn’t have open holes in it, or simply make it inconvenient to haul her off to a local launch ramp. Then, and only then, will the ratcheting cry of the snow frog be stilled for another year. OK. Just in case you’re not from snow frog country, I’ll do a rendition of the mating call and answer. “.howwwdeeeeppp. neeedeeeepp. howww.” But, you already knew that.

As soon as I totally give up and haul that boat back into the operating room, we’ll have serenades by crickets and the whine of mosquitoes. But, apparently, not until. So, it’s a sacrifice that I will have to make. Atonement.

I’ve also got a sort of new slant on this project that maybe should be explored. When asked about the basic notion behind Frankenbotery, I normally equivocate with something like, “Well. It’s what results when a cluttered mind has access to sharp tools.” During that month or more that this poor girl has been shivering in the cold, I’ve been hatching yet more “improvements, and modifications” that I could somehow get done before spring launch. Taking something that would probably work as-is, and messing with it to make it better is always a chancy thing. This would certainly be no exception. But.

The closer I get to actually utilizing this boat for the purpose originally stated, the more I think my “modest proposal” was a bit wide of the mark. Besides.

Why would anybody want to be modest, when he could be IMMODEST? Anyhow, this is the new revelation. I’m thinking that the actual number of timers this boat is going to get to be used as a mini-cruise “sag wagon,” or social center is probably fewer than the number of fingers on the left hand of a careless millwright. I do still hope that will be a reasonable raison d’etre. That’s the concept that will require Miss Kathleen to be hauled to the cruise put-in locations in a separate run from home. Two boats. Two (actually four) separate trips. And, I’m still expecting to do that. Provided somebody will take advantage of that circumstance. But, it has begun to dawn on me, that this contraption has most of the virtues of a terrestrial travel trailer. If, she was also self-propelled, and laid out as an on the water solo-act as well, we just might have a whole lot more missions she could participate in.

MK is way superior in the seakeeping and aesthetics departments. But, this little ersatz gypsy wagon just might make a better candidate for some of those distant messabouts, and river cruises that continue to be penciled in on my bucket list calendar. Soooooo.

First out of the gate is the not-so-simple matter of tearing out the forward bulkhead and putting in an enclosed steering station up where the ever-shorter and ever-shallower forward cockpit is now. This will require some quick work with the Sawzall to remove the former bow rider forward seating flats. The overhead will need to grow forward about four feet. And, of course, it’ll need enclosing in-in a tasteful manner, of course. Maybe a concerted week’s work. Maybe more.

There’s more to this resurgent masochism tango. Probably, I should simply try this first one, first. And, there’s also the school of thought that says maybe I should just take a nap, watch a little TV, and wait for the snow to melt. Only one surefire way to figure that one out. I’ll let you know what happens.


  1. Dan,
    Before you do the forward wheelhouse, consider the weight distribution. She was designed to have a huge chunk of Detroit iron aft and little or nothing forward. You might want to do the wheelhouse aft, maybe with a ‘fantail’- a platform at sheer level extending 2 or 3 feet aft from the transom. This might avoid a ‘hang down your head Tom Dooley’ look afloat.

    • Alex:

      You’re no doubt right. I’ve sorta relied on the idea that tanks full of clear-, gray-, black-, and push-water would inhabit the catacombs vacated by all that Detroit iron. But, could be them Kinston boys just could know what they’re talking about. “…pore boy, you’re gonna…”

      I’ve daydreamed about the back porch idea, too. Problem is all that roof right under your chin, steering from back aft. Can’t really see much up ahead. At the moment, that project has taken a back seat to actually going places and doing things. But, the sawzall always sits warmed up, on Ready One. Perhaps. I should put it, “…out in some lonesome valley, swingin’…”



  2. Dan,

    Just wish to say that I really enjoy your stories. You have a writing style, and apparent personality that make me laugh (in a good way). I even by chance saw Miss Kathleen and you here on Puget Sound last year – Brownsville Marina – around the time of the Wooden Boat Festival in PT. I didn’t realize quickly enough what I was seeing, to introduce myself and pass my appreciation on in person, but I knew I’d seen that unique craft somewhere before.

    Thanks, and keep the real stories of amusing travails coming.

    • Mark,

      Our stop over in Brownsville was a real delight. The folks we met there were all friendly and helpful. In fact, Bosun-the-sea-dog and I met a veterinarian on the dock there who immediately recognized the then-advancing signs of Cushing’s disease in my first mate. He offered me advice on what to further expect, and how to deal with what was yet to come.

      As these things go, Bosun and I took our last snow plow tractor ride together this winter. It was a horribly sad day. And, now my new partner in crime is learning the ropes. And, for his own part, Jamie is a wonderful companion. I’m hoping we will make it back to Brownsville again this summer.

      The “plan” is to attend the Sucia gathering in early July and then meander south (except if we meander further north, of course.) The idea being that we could be out and about for the entire month until the Palooza starts in PT. Reality may well intrude. But, yanevahknow. Maybe we will get to see you in B-ville. That would be nice.

      Take care,


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