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by Dave Lucas – Bradenton, Florida – USA

Dec 2015

We had scheduled our lighted boat parade for last Saturday and we succeeded in having some real highs and way down lows.

The high was that we had a wild and crazy party with people from all over. It's always amazing how you guys can sniff out others who are interested in the same things you are. Kind of like honey bees; you keep buzzing around till you find the perfect match. When you're outside and free to roam that happens. John's brother mentioned something about airplanes and within five minutes there was a group of five pilots gathered around talking pilot talk.

This is me dancing in the laser light. It looked better in person, it's pitch black with a lighted figure there.

This one picture shows the low down low; This is high tide. None of the boats were floating. A strong North East wind came along and blew all of the water out of Tampa Bay which is connected to our river. I didn't really matter anyway. After dark and lots of strong drink we all thought that we were on lighted boats anyway and it was dry and warm around the fire.

Capt Dave Jackson came and got Gene's Windjammer. He changed the tires, greased it all up and made it all the way back to Charleston. Dave's a cool guy, tells stories with the best of them, I'm helping to hold the boat up.

Steve was coming home in the shop truck and discovered a hitch hiker on the windshield. He stopped and got it off but the thing shot back up under the truck. I guess that's his home. The sight of this would freak out a lot of people, maybe even justify hitting a mail box.

We needed an extension for shallow water boat launching so Howard scrounged around and came up with this beauty. Not to be outdone, Crazy Steve donated his old Subaru to be our launch tractor. All it took was a little careful modification and some glue (PL Premium of course) to come up with this rig. All wheel drive and a mirror that looks down onto the trailer hitch works great. I'm sure that this doesn't surprise any of you who keep up with our antics.

I was out with the dogs in Helen Marie and Steve and Lenna found me playing like a surfer. In calm water you can steer the boat my leaning it to one side or the other and it frees me from having to stay inside all the time. What could go wrong? I'm pretty sure that she thinks I'm completely nuts. The boat has non feedback steering so the rudder will not turn unless you turn the wheel.

I made some additions to my new boat, added some skegs and when I put it in the water found that the totally sealed space under the floor was completely full of water after only a day. That's impossible, didn't I say totally sealed. I opened the little drain plug and pumped all hundred gallons or so out, pulled the boat and looked for the leak. Murphy's Law is alive and well; I had removed the screws holding the skegs on after the glue was dry and sealed the screw holes, almost. I missed one and that tiny little screw hole was enough to let all that water in. If I was trying to drain water out through that hole it would stop up tighter a drum and hold forever.

Kayak Kathy and Lance have this little trailer that seems perfect. It's light but opens up to make a large space. They do know how to camp out. Helen and I went out to the park to see it and check out what kind of wine they were serving. Steve and Lenna were there also but they always take the pictures so are never in them.

Another one bites the dust. The beautiful Texas Sled got infested with too much rot to fool with and joined the birds at the land fill. This is the fifth or sixth boat we've taken there. As long as it doesn't have any gas or oil they'll pull it off and squash it up. Water can get into the smallest cracks and eat it all up. They charge the same as they do for any other load, by the pound. I think it's $20 for a thousand pounds here. We got a great big full keel fiberglass sailboat up the hill once and paid $100 to get rid of that one. It was worth it just to watch it get crunched up.

Rot got into Helen Marie also. I'm good at glassing and sealing tops and bottoms but not worth a dam on edges. For some reason I think that paint is going to be good enough. How's that working out, dumb ass. Funny how it's a whole lot harder fixing it than it was building it in the first place. I ended up crawling around with every tool in the shop for this one. Johnny Mack and his "good deal" aluminum boat is still cussing about that.

I've talked about Richard the foam genius before. That boat I showed last time with the long covered deck and the little runner things to get into it is this one, a Speakeasy. He's using some foam/glass components in the build. He's going to put the dogs up under that long front end.

Richard also builds airplanes, some using foam. Check out this long slender wing for his glider. And I thought my little foam kayaks were something.

Simon Lew found this old all fiberglass motor home to tow his boats. We all can deal with fiber glass. He went into detail about getting it and fixing it up and got me excited to have one; I don't know why, I never leave home.

I finished with the modifications to Lurlyne my fast commuter and am happy with it. Pat Johnson was the inspiration for these box steps. She'll be in the water at the dock so she'll get used a lot, just like Helen Marie. I went out with the dogs this afternoon for a trial run to our favorite waterfront hangout, Woodies River Roo. This is about a three hour round trip in Helen Marie, we made it in less than an hour running at a comfortable speed in this boat. Helen Marie will still be the best easy going river cruiser but I think I'll like being able to go a little faster.

We put her in the water yesterday and Steve and I took it down the river to the gas dock. The Mercury 60 is a good motor for it; at 4000 rpm it'll do 15 mph and rides smoothly in choppy water. 5000 gets you 20 mph with more noise and gas and 6000 will push it to about 26 and you can feel every wave. I think 15 to 20 will be my usual speed. These two back facing seats are smooth and comfortable at any speed. After being use to Helen Marie's wide open 6 this one seems like a real speedster.

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