“Notes from the Tiki Hut” – New Floating Dock

by Dave Lucas – Bradenton, Florida – USA

New Floating Dock

Sometimes a boat is a dock, that’s probably a better use for most of the boats in the world.

Our little marina gets a lot of itinerant boat traffic from passing drunks looking for the main river channel. We try to flag them over to share what they’re drinking so we needed to expand the docking facilities. After much debate and figuring and high level planning the smart one in the bunch, that would be me, decided that a pontoon boat would be perfect. Our Craig’s list looker upper Steve got on it and found some cheap ones that failed for one reason or another. I stumbled across this one for $500 and it’s perfect; all the frilly stuff had already been removed, it was a floating tiki hut in it’s other life. And I even have it’s title. Richard wants to anchor it over the deep spring off the dock, add a big water slide and see if he can hold a drink while sliding down, I wonder if Cessna would try it. Either that or use it for a dance floor, kind of like a game of see who can stay dry the longest, we would invite out foxy neighbor and her girl friends to be the first to try.

The blue catboat is the Finwick Williams 18 that Howard and I built and sold to Judy Blue Eyes. Its proportions in this picture look good but the plans show a cabin height six inches lower than this one which makes it totally unusable. Not even sitting headroom. Howard did a good job of scaling it up. Judy did this fantastic paint job and some other modifications like changing the wheel steering for a tiller. This other round boat is the one we’re all pushing Howard to do next. He needs a real challenge for a change.

Helen Marie is still alive and well and getting used a lot. Joe and Mandy put a more miles on her in a weekend than I put on her in the years I owned her. It seems that most of the hundreds of lakes in central Florida are connected with small canals that she can navigate. It’s good to see my creation being used and loved. I need to hurry up and finish my new larger version to see if Helen and I will use this one.

Lenna got these great pictures last week when we were out in the boats on a bird watching trip to the local rockery. She’s turned into a great picture taker; good thing cause that’s where I get most of the ones I send out to you.

No explanation necessary for this one.

John and Steve have become good at catching blue crabs, well Steve has but John is good and cooking them. We were sitting out on the dock cracking and eating them. This is the only place to do that. You just throw all the pieces in the water and hose everything off while watching the manatees frolic in the bay in front of you. They come here this time of the year to mate and give birth. The mating is something to see; it evidently takes more than two of them to get it done so it’s not unusual to see three or four going at it.

Sausage Jim finished planking his melonseed and can’t believe that I wanted to help sand the initial rough part. I love seeing the smooth curved shape comes out. This is Jim’s first boat and it’s pretty complicated. I keep telling him, “don’t worry, it’s easy” and he does it and it was easy. The real problem being a new builder is knowing what the next step is. That’s why the little 12 foot Scamp is so complicated. It has so many interlocking pieces that you have to stand there trying to figure out what to do next. Wally and I helped him glass it. Wally has turned out to be a genius at glassing.



The guys up at Crystal River built a big old scow like they used back in the day and named it “Spirit”. This book is a fictional story about a boat like they used during the 1800’s and during the civil war. It’s an easy read and does a good job of painting a picture of life along this coast back then. The water in this part of Florida is extremely flat and shallow; 2 to 6 feet shallow so it takes a big flat bottom boat to move goods in and out. We were involved in several jobs along this area of the coast and at low tide it was a challenge getting our flat bottom work boat in and out; a 19 foot Polar only needs a foot to float and sometimes we didn’t even have that. I found this book on Amazon for my kindle. They tell me that this other picture is of my neighbor Ernie scotch fishing. That seems to be the most popular kind of fishing around here. I doesn’t matter if the water here is deep, shallow or even dry; scotch, rum, gin or JB fishing still works.

Available on Amazon

I’ll finish with another picture I took back in the old days when Helen made me work for a living. This is peanut island on Florida’s east coast just up from Palm Beach. It was a big spoil island for the dredged sand from Palm Beach inlet that has a history that will interest you. Back in the ’60’s they built a big under ground bunker that was to be used by President Kennedy in case of nuclear attack when he was at his estate down here. The bunker is still there and I think you can take tours through it. Google it to see all about it. Twenty years ago this was just a giant pile of sand with Australian pines growing all over it. It was a great hangout for boaters to come to and have a good time. Someone decided that children may be offended by all the drinking and carrying on so they made it into a state park with all the rules and regulations that totally destroy all of the fun. We were involved in some of the planning and I flew over it once in a while to document the progress, this one was taken at about the end of the transformation. Flying was ok but I liked going into these places by boat better.

1 Comment

  1. Dave, I’m curious about the “Lurlyne.” She’s looks to be an eminently practical river cruiser. What is the origin of her design? I’d like to know about her.

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