Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I believe that most certainly applies to boats, and more specifically to continually repairing old boats. But the first step towards recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem, which I’m willing to admit. And while repairs are steadily progressing aboard Annabel Lee, the time since I’ve been out on the water is starting to take its toll on me, even more so when you consider how long it is since I’ve been sailing. It’s wearing on me, to the point that I find myself haunting the classifieds for some small vessel of the sailing variety to alleviate this growing restlessness. And at last, I’m happy to say, my quest is over.

To my credit, I’ll say in advance that I resisted an option that, while exceedingly tempting, represented yet another project that would likely stretch well into the future, costing me much time and money.  It was free for the taking, a lovely little collection of dry-rot and sprung planks in the shape of a 50+ year old catboat, trailer and all. Could I have repaired this little boat? Yes. Would she have been lovely in the end? Absolutely.  But with one project boat yet to be completed, the very small but rational side of my brain acknowledged that now wasn’t the time to start another. And ideally, the boat I was looking for would be something I could justify as practical, so long as it could serve as a tender to the mother-ship. What I needed was a sturdy dinghy, one that could be rowed or motored, then stowed against Annabel Lee’s transom or on her forward deck.

It’s also been said that insanity is hereditary, and I can attest to that. My parents are to blame for exposing me to boats at an early age, and for presenting me with my first sailboat back when most kids were getting bicycles for their birthday. And several decades later they’ve yet again found me the wonderful birthday gift – a Puffin dinghy!  She’s a bit rough around the edges, but nothing a weekend of work won’t remedy.  She has beautiful lines that complement the mother-ship quite nicely, and at 8’6”, she’ll fit easily into the bed of my truck and nest perfectly on Annabel Lee’s forward deck. And while this little treasure presently lacks any means to sail, that’s easily remedied. With the work I’ve done, a centerboard trunk would be easy enough, but initially I plan to experiment with removable leeboards. A rudder is simple enough, as is a mast and sail.

I’ve always felt the beauty of dinghies is that the pleasure-to-work ratio is delightfully low, and there’s something about a dink that brings out the kid in me – skimming along the water, connected to every wave, every breeze – it’s boating in its simplest, purest form. I’ll be heading up to visit mom and dad real soon, and I can’t stop grinning at the idea of playing with my new boat. She comes already named, albeit a strange and curious name for a little dinghy, and with my dark sense of humor it’s one I find amusing.  It’s almost as if this particular dinghy was meant to find me, though I’d love to know what led someone to christen her Sharkbait.

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5 Responses to Sharkbait?

  1. gerald dowling says:

    CE, what a wonderful little dink. And the little princess has a pointy end and the square end, what could be better?

  2. John Urban says:

    CE, Pleasure-to-work ratio? Now there’s a sad thought for any boat owner.
    On the question of Sharkbait, does that transom have a cut-out for an outboard, or is that….


  3. Gerald, yes, despite some of her rough spots, she has lovely lines. I’m looking forward to seeing how she looks once we replace the rubrails and treat her to some proper varnish. And John, as for that dreadful ratio, I’ve found the best way to look at it is to keep reminding yourself you actually *like* perpetually working on the boat. Say it enough and you’ll start to believe it. (That, or the buzz from the resin fumes makes you forget the hours of torture.) It also helps to be a bit crazy, but I think we’ve established that. As for the outboard cutout on the dink, I’ve yet to see her first-hand, so I’ll have to check if there are any teeth-marks around the transom!

  4. Pingback: Coolest birthday present in years… | c.e.grundler

  5. Richard Norman says:

    Love affairs with old boats are definitely character builders. Build away!

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