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The punt launch

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Okay. Dang it. I promised Chick.

I have no photos of said incident, which is probably for the best, but I will set the scene.

There is a decent sized river around here what has been quarried for the lovely stones comprising its bed for years. The little ponds that are left over make good places for delicious bass to go play bass. I kind of have a weakness for real food, moreso when the harvesting of it is fun. :)

I have a long time adventure buddy, Billy, we'll call him. Billy and I are that type of friends what get introduced by a mutual, and quickly outdistance the third wheel. Dang, we met, and it was like reunited twins, y'all, except he is shorter and less narrow than I, the Ichabod Crane lookalike.

So, I helped the kids build this punt, see, and Billy just happened to be over. Now, see Billy has the fishing bug something fierce. He fishes. I just like to go air drown some dinner now and again, but he's out to meet them all, have a picture taken with the whole town, as it were.

"Dude, we gotta go fish that boat Saturday."

Billy knows I don't fish, or boat can I help it, on the weekends. Ha.

"Those ponds are open on the weekend. Little pond, big fish, good test for the boat..." Did I mention Billy is a salesman, y'all, in real life, and I am the sucker PT warned about?

"The boat's not done, Billy. No oars, no scull, no cleats or tie off, no floorboards..."

So, Saturday morning, sees Billy showing up at Dark 30, and the boat is already on the roof rack of the little sedan, so we only have to load the boat, and go. We could hardly even notice the enormous box on the roof of the tiny sedan as we drove down the highway at surface speeds. :)

So, we queue up to launch (ugh) amidst a tiny Dunkirk of kayaks, canoes, jon boats, and one big old powerboat. Crazy. We simply hoisted our little box off and carried her to the water.

I won't lie, I was relieved when she floated. I always am.

Now, I said we simply launched her, but that was a lie.

"Check out this boat! My buddy Rob built it. He's a master boatbuilder, Bro! Oh, he's been doing this forever. Blah, blah, blah! Loud, very loud, and embarrassing proclamations!"

And, so, duly cursed, we launched, set off, paddling with an old Greenland style double bladed paddle, and my own pirogue paddle, which has a long narrow blade, and can be used as a quant, or pushpole, if needed.

Mind you, we are in a large pond, acre plus, which is nowhere deeper than 5 feet, so although the vessel is untested, we had no compunctions about testing here. Well...

I noticed the thin floor oilcanning right away. Mind you, there are floorboards in her now, and were supposed to be then, but we were in a rush, and wanted to go fishing.

The boat paddles and rows like a dream, by the by. No lie, it goes like no box has any right to. The problem is, the bowman, if too chicken to just get up on the deck where they belong, concentrates all their weight between two frames, just behind the bottom seam. The kids made the boat, so it has a three piece bottom, and there is no glass on the joint, just good fits and glue.

We had been fishing unsuccessfully for some time when Billy noticed a bit of water in his end, and some cracking in the seam between bottom and frame, which we dismissed as cracking paint, just from the flexing.


We were very close to some gents in a grounded out plastic canoe when Billy announced the Catastrophic Failure. Luckily, the canoe guys were puffing a potent homemade cigarette, so I think they may believe they imagined what happened next. :)

What happened was, I got that sucker up on plane! I'm not sure you've ever seen a J stroke turn over at 9,756 SPM, but I can tell you the froth is substantial. At one point, poor Billy had to climb up on the foredeck and grab the painter, riding her like one of those rib drivers.

Really, what happened is, I wanted to beach immediately, and Billy wanted to bolt across the pond. I won.

We beached her, found the screws that had been literally stomped out of her (which Billy insists were pitifully small, at 1" #10 screws into fir, for 1/4 ply), and I pounded them back in with a nice smooth river rock/hammer.

Dummy wanted to keep fishing, but the bite was off, and I was anxious to effect lasting repairs, so we just paddled back to the car. The boat took on very little water, and we got her loaded fine. Except, Billy stepped in a hole in the water and almost broke his leg off.

Happy to report, the boat was fixed, and finished with floorboards and all, then beat up heavily by three kids and a big puppy over a ten day period. An absolute success. The end decks are excellent casting, boarding, and diving platforms, and it can carry a ton of stuff.





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Love it!!! Reminds me of the time that I had spent months rebuilding an old 17' catboat (see "A Princess Visits Shack" story in this forum) up here in the mountains before moving down on the coast to Havelock. I never had a chance to try her out up here. Oh, guess I'd better remind y'all that we have moved back to the same town in the mountains that we moved away from 18 years before. Yeah, I know. I called living up here  the "Doldrums". I guess some of us never learn. Long, sad story. Oh well, back to this story.


Miss Debbie, Peter, and I took Princess to the boat ramp in Beaufort, NC. By-the-way, ya gotta know the difference between how we say Beaufort, NC, and Beaufort, SC. Up here it's BO-fort. In SC it's BEW- fort. (Rymes with "few".) Back to the story again. I got her all rigged on the ramp, and proceeded down into the water. All went well until Peter climbed aboard and looked below---"Hey, Dad, is there supposed to be water down here???"


Now HOW in the world could the dang boat leak? It was a plywood Charles Wittholz design. I had salvaged her from behind someones' house where she had lain for 14 years. I re-glassed the whole hull right up to the solid timber deadwood. Uh-oh. Didn't glass that durn deadwood. It had dried out and "checked" over all of those years out of the water, I just resin coated it and didn't bother to glass over it. Amazing how the water had found those checks and followed them all the way into the hull.


Needless to say, amid all the embarrassment--- back on the trailer, de-rig, haul her back home to fix it right.

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I reflected the other day, as I was riding my bicycle home from my little part time job I have to keep me mixing with regular society, that things ain't changed all that much in the last 20 years.

I work in the same place I did way back then, though for giggles now, and have the same transportation, and live less than a mile from where I did then.

Crazy how far we have to travel, sometimes, just to end up in the same place, eh?



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