We bought a boat. Or, as I said to Mr. Fantastic “We bought a $%# BOAT??!! With what? Where do we park it?” But the deal was done. And the more I learned, the more I liked it.
Really rowing on the street
Last year, Papa Fantastic shamelessly petitioned friends, friends-of-friends, and random people on the street to borrow a boat as we prepared to go to Vicars Island. He managed to wrangle a somewhat seaworthy – or I should say lakeworthy – rowboat with one oar from an acquaintance a few blocks away which we loaded from the alley onto our minivan (RIP 1996 Dodge Caravan Sport we had it Oct 2008- Jan 2013) and used for that trip. We bought another oar and rounded up some life vests. I will say with all respect and gratitude that the rowboat did the job and we may not have been able to take the trip without it. I must also say we all have seared into our memory rowing the thing while the kids bailed out the lake water that was leaking in, once while Truly was vomiting and twice in the rain. We thought a lot about motors and larger boats and especially sailboats on that trip. Papa Fantastic continued to scheme on somehow getting a boat and he cruised Craigslist all year. Along the way, he talked two other families into
helping us pay for it co-owning a boat. So now we own- along with the Stupendous family of Vicars Island fame, and another adventurous family- a Siren Sailboat! It ended up costing each family about $600, plus one needs a tow bar to pull the trailer. We got one and I believe it was under $100 installed. The other families have relatives outside the city so we have two driveway options for parking the thing – much like worrying about my kids or a naive houseguest, I shudder to think of what could happen to the little sailboat in the city streets at night!
from L to R: Minivan, boat, Mr fantastic
Papa found a 17′ 1974 Siren sailboat. Actually, he found not one but two of these little beauties. They were made in Canada from the 1970’s until the mid-1980’s and are cute as a button. There is a cabin that sleeps two, a small motor and a mast for the SAILS!! Yes, its a little sailboat. The great thing about finding two listings on Craigslist is that he could compare the two. The one we bought was slightly more expensive but was in vastly better condition since it had been used more recently. Of course, he drove it right to our door so we could climb all over the thing, then the next day we happened to have a babysitter so just Mr. Fantastic and I headed with our Siren for Elk River Park in Elkton, Maryland. The siren is a great size – big enough for a cabin, yet it weighs only 750# so it doesn’t stress our car (which has a towing capacity of 2000#).
Sailing on the Chesapeake
The Bay was beautiful and we had excellent weather. Getting there was a trick, however. Once at the boat ramp, we had to set up the mast, which of course was down for towing. There was a lot of schlepping around with the trailer ties, motor, rudder, etc. Next, I had to watch as our car – a used minivan we bought in February to replace the other minivan we had driven to death with our wanderings – backed into the water as it lowered the boat down the ramp. Then I parked the car, went back to the dock and we started our maiden voyage on the 39-year-old sailboat.
Everything worked well, but soon the motor started whining and stalling. The keel was not down because the inlet was shallow, we were soon to find out how shallow. With no motor or keel, we were pushed towards the land and we had to get out and push. I got down in to the water… and my legs kept sinking. The bottom of the inlet was over a foot of fine silt, and it was hard to get a grip with my feet. But with some finagling we were able to get back into the deeper part – which was only about 8″!! The motor started again and soon we made it to the Bay. There we opened the sail and it was really nice! I had to crouch down so the boom would not hit me when it turned, we have to mess with it and see if it can go higher next time. The other boaters did not laugh at us, which I appreciated. People were very nice and we saw others getting stuck as well. The buoys were inaccurate, directing boaters into more silted areas, which did not help matters. We did not have much time due to the babysitter schedule so we had a short sail, made our way back through the inlet without having to get out and push, and loaded up the trailer to get home. I’m looking forward to more adventures, check out the boat tent that came with the boat!