by Rickey Idlett
I have been drawn to the water since before I could remember. When I was born my parents lived in the backwoods near St. Francisville, Louisiana not far from the Mississippi River. My dad would take me to run trot lines in the river's backwater. We also did a lot of fishing for white perch in beautiful old lakes with cypress trees standing watch over us like moss bearded old men. I never was much on the fishing but if a boat or water was involved I was always ready to go. I remember taking short trips to the Gulf of Mexico to fish and crab off of the public piers and near the beaches. The old wooden shrimp boats and the occasional sailboats I would see absolutely amazed me. Spending a day or a moonlit night running the backwater in a small aluminum bateau dodging drifting piles of fire ants was one thing, but to be on a bigger boat that could take you to far unknown places, that was what I have dreamed of ever since. It wasn’t until years later that these dreams would manifest into reality.
I took a job as a deck hand on the Delta Queen Steamboat after a short tour in the Army. In the six years I worked for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company I worked my way up to oiler, fireman, maintenance tech, to jr. engineer. It wasn’t until my first child was born that I knew that my time of staying away from home for a month at a time was over. But, my boating experience was only progressing.
I took a job in Indiana and let me tell you, it is a nice place up there. The summers were great but, it gets mighty cold in the winter. That is when I began dreaming of warm tropical waters and sailing out in the open ocean, far from responsibility and the chaos. Duckworks Magazine helped me to maintain my sanity while landlocked! I wanted a sailboat so bad that I just built one. As many builders of boats realize, when you tell a landlubber that you want to build a boat they think you are crazy! Luckily for me I ignored the landlubbers and completed my first boat build. It was a 12’ sailing dingy that I built from plywood and plans found on the internet. I realized after that anything was possible.
Since then I have worked and lived in Ft. Lauderdale and Ft. Myers, Florida. I spent last years Hurricane season living aboard an old Helsen 22’ sailboat at a marina in Ft. Myers. The marina took a beating and suffered from the tidal surge that flooded the marina and docks but I stayed dry in my little sailboat ( although I now know how laundry feels after the wash cycle!).
Then I bought and repaired a 22’ Hunter sailboat that had not quite survived the hurricanes. I didn’t know much about fiberglassing but Captain Dave Tinder and Captain Phil Barnhorst of Manatee World and Aquanut boat rentals took pity on me and walked me through the processes of sanding, fiberglassing, sanding, fiberglassing, sanding, and so on! With these type of experiences under my belt boat building is just a pleasure. Now I want to help as many boat building dreamers as I can. That is why I started FANCYBOATS.com.
It is a simple concept really. I love boats and building small boats. Like many others I would like to be able to do this for a living but it is has been hard establishing a steady demand for boats I build. With the program I have put together I hope to be able to present a standardized layout of boats available in an attractive format to those who would like a small custom built boat. If you would like to use our website to sell a boat you built feel free to email me. At this stage we are still putting everything together and would be glad to advertise your home built boats for free. I feel blessed to be able to contribute to this community and hope to meet many of you!