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by Thomas Mauer - Willow Grove, PA - USA

PDR #537

This spring I built a sailboat, however I find that this summer I've not been sailing my duck a lot. After a very hectic build I launched at the Mid Atlantic Messabout in June. I also sailed a bit on the July fourth weekend. Well, until I broke my rudder head. That's been the only 'real' sailing I've had this year. However, I've had Water Dancer out on a nearby river three or four times and I have to say that she is one heck of a great rowboat! I usually end up rowing up river a mile and half or two and then taking a leisurely trip back to the launch ramp. If there is a breeze we might hoist the sail and let it help the current, or not, depending on our mood.

I've come to discover that our duck is really handy for finding that perfect swimming hole on the river. It's a very stable platform for my 11 year old to cast from. He likes fishing from the water instead of the shore, even if he's yet to catch anything to keep. Other discoveries we've made are that when perched on the beach her bow makes an excellent picnic table for lunch under an umbrella stepped in the mast sleeve. A duck drawing about six inches of water can go all sorts of places other boats would fear to tread. While rowing up the Schuylkill River in Valley Forge we've spotted dear, hawks, cranes, geese, ducks, turtles, and even found a sunken boat. We've stopped to swim, drop a line the water, and found the best places to catch frogs, tadpoles, and crayfish. We even found the spot and forded the river from shore to shore at the same place where General Washington did to supply our fledgling continental army. For all these reasons I'm glad I haven't limited my boating this summer to days that were only good for sailing. I would have missed out on hours of fun and discovery with my son, and all of these discoveries were made not under sail but when being powered with the oars.

I've said it before, but I think it's worth repeating. Building this little boat was one of the best things I've ever done. I've rarely been as proud of a thing as I was, and am, of having built this boat with my own hands (and some help from my son). It's been a most excellent excuse to reconnect to, and spend time with, my young son.

I'd like to publicly say thanks to Shorty Routh for starting the class and personally encouraging me throughout my build, as well as all of those on the PuddleDuck Yahoo Forum who helped me along the way. I owe a great deal of this summer's memories to all of you. I hope you're all having as great summer as I am. I think the most important discovery we've made this summer is this. Truly, there is nothing
- absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

Our base of operations - Water Dancer
Sunken Boat
Vaughan haveing an apple on shore
Vaughan having lunch on the bow
Vaughan rowing

As for the photo's most of the ones I put on in the letter are up in the photos at the PD Yahoo group under 'Water Dancer'.

My wife was chiding me the other day because my answer is always "build a boat", and she said that not all of lifes problems could be fixed by building a boat. Maybe not... but a lot of them could.

[Want to build a puddle duck racer - - Catbox - KiwiPDR - free.]