Ethan's Boat

Ethan just turned 13, so this was 8 years ago last summer.

One summer afternoon, Ethan, age 4, said, “Daddy, I want to make something with you in the garage.”

I always liked making things with my sons, so I said, “What would you like to make?”

“Um,” he thought for a minute. “A little toy boat to play with in the bath?”

That spring I had started teaching them to swim, and by now, they were confident anywhere in the pond, so I suggested, “How 'bout a big toy boat to play with in the pond?”

“Yea! Yea!”

So, we scrounged in the garage and found a board, an old license plate for the centerboard, some elements from a dead tv antenna, some string, a plastic sack and some black tape:

Usually we’d swim behind it so we could adjust the sails or change the rudder. How do you change the rudder? You reach under it and bend the license plate a little.

Photos by Mommy.

My Grandfather made me one of those when I was about 7, and we sailed it in the tank at the farm, same idea… bendable rudder, cut the side off a feed can for a keel with a chunk of iron tied onto the bent up end, and a dowel mast, some cloth from Grandmas ragbag and I had a yacht…

Thanks for reminding me of that day, it had slipped away. I have 30 boats in my collection now, I wish I had 31.

We played with it for a couple years. Could get it to sail the whole length of the pond if the wind was steady. It was stored in the garage, and one winter day it met with a steel belted radial. Could have rebuilt it in a few minutes, but they were interested in other things by then.