It’s been two years, already!
Like an aspiring starlet, Miss Kathleen, popped on the scene after only about 90 days in the shop. She was seen just about everywhere. Everyplace she went, people honked their horns, waved, and came over to make her acquaintance. And, it still happens. Yesterday, at the launch ramp. In the gas station. On the road, in rest stops and grocery store parking lots. She’s been quite a sensation. And, she’s “still got it.”
And, as these things turn out – sometimes – she’s pretty darn capable as originally envisioned. Like all starlets, she’s beginning to age. “Hair and nails” need to be rethought. Like the human metaphor I’m toying with here, if the starlet is going to make it as a journeyman actress; she’s going to have to deal with her looks and her health in a more sustained way. Maybe it’s time for a bit of a “tuck and nip, here and there…”
Back when all this started, and our crew here at the Frankenwerke was putting in those day shifts, followed by night shifts, and turning in all those time cards with overtime-authorized; we took a lot of shortcuts. Even, more than usual.
I was out in the still-falling snow to do that first float test. It was still only January. I was rushing to make a public date for a commissioning ceremony. Yep. Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts.
Who woulda’ ever thought?
That, when she first went under-the-knife, that she’d even survive the surgery?
Those first furtive float tests were pretty discouraging. Water was coming in from a lot of places, places that nobody even knew were places, yet.
We had to build a trailer, out of just-about-nuthin’. And, that poor hull was busted, gouged, and a completely unknown quantity.
But, then, one day. Just before that first winter. Just before she went into the shop “for real,” she just slid off the trailer and just sat there. A princess in the making. We were getting to know each other. She didn’t look like much. But, damn it! I was really beginning to like what I saw.
Winter came late that year. We even fitted a motor, and did a furtive circle or two away from the launch ramp dock. Nobody else around. Just the two of us.
But, as the leaves curled up and fell into piles, that inevitable time was upon us. Surgery, and recovery. More surgery. Always the cutting, grinding, and of course, the wondering. Would she really work out?
Over the next couple months. Just a few weeks, actually. She and I would sort of talk it over. And, like with ingénues, the world over, she never really answered my questions. Not really. There was all this guesswork. Trial and error, and more educated guesses.
That cabin top was one completely hairball notion. Never quite right. One of those shortcuts.
But, it sort of came together. It’s done the job for two years, now.
Mostly, the wet stuff has stayed outside, and the dry stuff has stayed inside. Mostly.
And, one day, with snow still piling up, it was time to go back and see if she still floated right side up.
Not quite what some folks would consider, exactly, “boating season.” But, it was time to come out, and meet her “public.” Some of the more vocal detractors, here at the Frankenwerke, questioned whether she’d even make it out under the garage door. And, to be honest, clearance dropped to less than a half-inch as we went into “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” mode.
Sort of one of those, “Did somebody call a taxi? Where ya’ wanna’ go, miss?” moments. And, since then. We’ve been lots, and lots, and lots of places. We’ve met scads of people. Often we’ve been the belle of the ball – as long as folks don’t look too close. Damn shortcuts. But, we’ve really gotten out and gotten around.
She’s been a real joy to know. Way more than just a pretty face.
Time to rethink, and time to freshen up. Well, maybe in a month or two. We’ve still got a couple significant trips planned. But, soon. She’s probably a keeper. No. Not, just probably!