Boo Boo

by Guest Columnist Mike Saunders

What's a Dinghy?

The smell of the pine being sawn into somewhat similar lengths is like an aphrodisiac. The tailgate of a 91 Toyota serves well as a sawing platform to build a set of sawhorses. Why sawhorses one might say? Well, I have to build this set of sawhorses so that I can build a workbench so that I can have somewhere to set my toolbox so that I can get some more floor space in this incredibly small 8’ by 12’ portable building so that I can build a dinghy. “Yes”, I said to my teenage daughter, “it will float and we can actually ride in it”. “Yes, I know they sell cute little plastic ones at West Marine”. “No, I haven’t lost my mind, cause you have to have one to lose”. What’s a dinghy? I cant tell you all at once, as I’m not too sure myself. Back to the story.

Altogether, the business of building a dinghy comes on a fellow kind of like several other things in life. Like your first love, you tend to forget all about other things that were important. For instance, let’s say you used to come home and cook supper for you and your teenage daughter (single Dads do that kind of stuff). It slowly turns into something like this. “Dad! Do you want to go to eat Mexican or do you want me to pick it up”?
“Go get it”.
“But Dad, the salsa gets runny by the time I get home with it, are you sure you want me to go get it”?
Then when she gets back with it, there is always the choice of where to eat it. “No Sugar, bring it out here to the shop (incredibly small 8x12 portable building, now with sawhorses holding several sheets of plywood), we can eat on the table out here”.
“What table out there”?
“The plywood one with eight legs, sweetie”.

The incredibly small boat shop and the plywood table

Building a dinghy is like having a hole in your head. It makes your brains leak out. Things you once thought you had a grip on slowly fade from your grasp as if you never knew how to do them. “I know I paid that light bill, how dare they turn off the…………….” about the time your teenage daughter reminds you that you laid the bill on the kitchen table a month ago, and said you would take care of it the next morning. What is a dinghy you say now?

Building a dinghy is like an excuse to buy things that make sawdust and noise. I started out with a circular saw and a palm sander. Somewhere along the way the $50 yard sale table saw came in so I could rip the lumber for the mast. Of course this meant I had to buy that factory reconditioned belt sander to set up the “Redneck Lathe” to turn the mast. (Masts have to be round, don’t they?) (I will have to explain the Redneck invention process in a whole other article.) The sad thing is the excuses that can be made to purchase a tool, for instance “Why, I could make the neatest set of shelves in that pantry area if I had that 10” Sliding Compound Miter Saw”.

Building a dinghy is like quitting smoking. You will tell yourself that “I don’t have to go out to the shop tonight, as the glue is still not set well enough to do anything else”, but then like a nicotine fit has taken you over, you meander out into the night air to go check on the aforementioned dinghy. Matters not that it’s now 45 degrees and raining and the dog doesn’t even want to go out. You will.

Building a dinghy is like volunteering to participate in the Spanish Inquisition. “You’re building a what”? “Out of wood”? “Will it float”? “They sell them at West Marine, you know”? “Where does the motor go”? The endless interrogation pursues you like a tornado headed for a trailer park. “Is that like a SeaDoo”? And then the icing on the cake is after you answer about 37 of these intelligent inquiries, you hear the fatal words “I don’t understand”. That is the cue for you to start mumbling non-landlubber things like thwart, and breasthook, and walk away. They already think you’re a few sandwiches short of a picnic anyway. Might as well live up to it and have some fun.

So then what is a dinghy? Well, its not a hole in the water as some contend. It’s not just a boat. A dinghy is the beginnings of a life that will never be the same. People who have never built anything other than a BLT on wheat can build a dinghy. A dinghy is a steppingstone to the adventure of a lifetime, which can last a lifetime. A lowliest dinghy in the harbor has more character than a dozen production fiberglass yachts. A dinghy is a workhorse, and a vehicle for more fun than a “barrel full of monkeys”. A dinghy can take you places you have never been, meet people you have never met, see things you have never seen. People always wave at you when you’re in your dinghy. People always smile at your dinghy. There is just something about a dinghy. Ya gotta love em’.