Full Mission Capable

BY DAN ROGERS - DIAMOND LAKE, WASHINGTON - USA

I found a rather cryptic note on my bench.  “OK.  So, now what?”  It was written with an obviously dull carpenter’s pencil.  On a small piece of cedar scrap.  There’s not too many guys around the Frankenwerke, here, who can actually write.  So, I’m pretty sure I know who left me the note.

I was doing a bit of racking and stacking.  Boats were moving in and out of the shop.  In and out of storage.  Getting ready for future boating events, here and there.  Getting checked out, and loaded.  Gas.  Mooring lines.  Life jackets.  General “stuff,” that I’ll be glad to have.  Sometime.  That’s when I uncovered that short note.  Not, such a simple question.  In fact, one we ALL have to answer.  All the time.

I think of it as a navigation problem.  First you need to figure out where you ARE.  A couple other questions do pop up almost immediately.  First off, it often helps a lot to know where you’ve come from.  And finally, if you don’t know where you are going, you’re most likely to end up someplace, else.  But, of course, it helps a whole lot to know where you WANT TO GO.

A crummy little note scratched on a board.

The oddest thing, about this whole deal is that, somehow, I’ve managed to get “caught up.”  Never happens.  I’ve got a motor cruiser capable of long range ventures both over the road and afloat.  There’s another cruiser that is lighter to tow and beachable; and likely to be considered “cute” just about any place we go.  Having a cute boat is important; that’s how you meet people.  There’s a trailerable keel boat for sailing on the “bigger” water that I have a hankerin’ to go sailing on.  That little girl is a veteran of many, many, far flung adventures.  Modest accommodations, but very capable both under power and sail.  There’s another sailboat that is actually quite capable, and quick to launch.  For those quickie-trips.  There’s both an inflatable and a rigid dinghy out there.  And, a kayak.  They all work.  The motors run.  The sails are in good shape.  The trailers all have new axles and tires.  Registrations are up.  Every square inch of each and every one of these boats and trailers have been messed with, modified, replaced, repaired, repainted, and haywired together.

We are Full Mission Capable!

And.  That’s the problem.  No doubt, you know somebody like this.

For some, the joy is in the doing-it, the being-there.  They really don’t care what sort of boat they ride in.  These folks don’t drill lots of holes in or cut big chunks off of a boat.  They just “sail.”  Or row, or paddle.  Or, cruise.  Not me, and maybe not you.  But, those folks are out there.  They are at every launch ramp, every resort.

Some of us get our jollies from actually building a boat.  You know.  With plans, and proper tools, and correct materials, and care and craftsmanship.  Boy, oh boy, do I wish one of those guys would come to work for us here at Frankenwerke.  I suppose it’s our working hours, or wage scale that keeps those guys away.

There’s a sort of outlier, fringe element.  This is the group that really gets their biggest satisfaction from simply figuring things out.  Literally from taking the piece of plywood that happens to be available; the one on the top of the pile, usually.  Often, that determines finished length or width.  Drilling the hole to fit the bolt you have, and adding washers if that bolt is too long.  Counterboring, if it’s too short.  Cutting the cambers by eye, developing slopes and tapers “from on horseback.”  Stuff like that.  That’s pretty much what keeps the lights on here, at Frankenwerke.  After the actual figuring-out phase is over; about all you have left is more or less a paying-of-dues.  Which seems to have led up to that crummy little note, on the board.

So.  Now what?




3 Comments

  1. Publishing this short opus right now, truly hands me my hat, and shows me the door. Such hubris was only possible last May or June when I wrote this. Since then, I’ve gotten to build a whole new, tandem axle, trailer for Miss Kathleen. And, at this very moment, she’s in the operating room with her deck house completely amputated, and a whole new one is scheduled to appear–over the next month or so.

    Such hubris. Such bravado. Such absolute malarkey. Certainly, hoist upon my own petard. Success in this line of work is downright ephemeral.

    Dan Rogers
    Frankenwerke, Almostcanada

  2. Yes Dan, the are boaters and there are boat builders and the are not necessarily the same people. I must confess that I have spent more time in the shop than on the water but I have enjoyed both just the same. I wish I could say that I have ever managed to get “caught up”. Is a home built boat ever finished?

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