Deb and I worked sporadically on the Bobby, and I read in Dad’s diary that we launched her on Mom’s birthday or July 29th. I recollect it took Gerald Slate, Dad, Deb, Betsy and me to wrestle the craft down to the beach where we put her into the water to see if Deb and I got a “pass or fail” on our efforts to make her watertight. We had to wait a couple of days for the results in order to give the water that rushed in a chance to swell the wood, and hence tighten the seams. I recall Deb and I pumping the water out after a few days and then noting, “Look Deb the leaks have slowed to a trickle.” We now had another means of transportation to add to our growing fleet.
I found old black and white ...view middle of the document...
As for the house, I had neither the tools nor the skills to work on that monumental project. What a laugh. It took a contractor and a team of workers four years to return Comfort Island to a remote semblance of respectability. Nonetheless that did not keep me from developing an interest in building projects toward the end of the summer after Hughie had left.
I remember building a surfboard a few days before we launched the Bobby. I took a couple of two-by-ten inch planks that were nine or ten feet long. I discovered the materials in one of several woodpiles. I can still see it. I sawed the front to a point and added some Red Lead bottom paint for cosmetic appeal because leaking wasn’t an issue. I recall padding down to the next island one afternoon. The current was between seven to nine miles per hour, but I’d been training on the Pacific Ocean five days a week by riding waves between two-feet high to twelve-feet high. I was a very experienced swimmer, and the school I had graduated from that spring had a PE program that began and ended with twenty minutes of swimming before lunch each day at the public beach. However, as a senior citizen, I’d consider such a trip foolhardy today lying on a crude pair of boards while attempting to navigate the turbulent water that is now vastly more congested with a huge increase in the number of watercraft in general including fishing boats, jet skis, and runabouts, which scamper in and out of the interconnected channels that circle this concourse of islands.
Dad had lots of memories from his youth on Comfort Island too. I recall one day when Dad and I were collecting wooden shakes that had fallen off the roof. We were piling them under the front porch when he mentioned one of his early memories. I remember him saying something like, “I used to build sailboats with old wooden shingles like this when I was a kid. I’d carve one end to a point like the bow of a boat. Next I would drill a hole in the middle where I’d place a mast made with a straight stick. Finally I’d take a sheet of paper and punch two holes in it so it would fit over the stick in the shape of a sail.”
He went on to explain that he and his cousins would take their shake sailboats down to the canal adjacent to the flat and conduct races.
The memory was a obvious catalyst for Dad and me to build a couple of prototypes and proceeded to the canal to test them out. I recall the details well. We launched our sailboats at the same time from the ramp to the smaller island. The ramp bowed toward the water with the two of us squatting on it, and this made it easy to place our boats into the leisurely current simultaneously. The wind followed the course of the canal and caught the sail of each boat propelling it forward. Thirty feet or so down the canal I waded into the shallow water to retrieve our two boats so we could begin the next race. It was a fun and memorable experience Dad and I shared that day. I made a mental note to introduce this sport to...