The Boat, Part 2.

 

The next big issue was the mast. Henri had advisors and it was determined that it should be at least twenty feet tall. I called for seventy-two feet of long 2x4s and they were there the next morning. A mainsail was a little harder to come by; we already had a jib. Connie got a book out of the library on sail making and we calculated how much material we would need, figuring canvas would be easiest to acquire. The morning we cut up and laid out the three-foot strips of canvas, I assumed there were several stores on State Street that were missing their awnings.

The boat really had become a community project. Connie was able to get access to a heavy-duty sewing machine. The book said each strip should be slightly wider in the middle than at the end. We did a lot of guessing. We were in a small room and it was a big project – overlapping seams, double stitching, with lots of pieces of material to patch together. All in all we did pretty well – the sail held up, but I think we put too much of a bulge in the middle – the boat never did tack very well.

The one big question that had been heavily debated was the keel. I weighed in on a wooden keel with metal attached to give it weight. Jack argued for a cement keel. Henri was afraid of the cement keel, but Jack is the one who had moved the boat to the lot and said he would help get it in the water, so Jack won out. I stayed out of the way. I had never sailed before and knew nothing about boats; but a cement keel? It just didn’t seem right.

Jack did know how to get things done. He built plywood forms under the boat and put in re-bar fastened to bolts on the small wooden keel that was all this fishing boat had needed. Working with cement is a special experience. When the truck comes, you had better be ready. The driver is paid by the job and is always in a hurry to leave. Forms that seem sturdy when empty look completely different when the heavy cement starts to push on them. And when they start to bulge, or give way, there is nothing that can be done. Some of this inevitably happened with our keel. I think it ended up being about 50% larger than planned, mainly thicker. I stayed away that day.

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About Newell Hendricks

I have lived a good life. Maybe a counterculture life, maybe a normal life. I have written operas, built houses, been involved with cross-cultural education between Latin America and the U.S, and hardly ever had a job I have helped raise two wonderful children with my amazing wife. It's been a good ride. And I go to church. I've just finished a book of stories from my life, I am still connected to an organization in Nicaragua that promotes sister relationships between communities, faith communities, or schoold, and to the extent that my cancer doesn't pull me down, am attempting to share some of what I have learned, or at least tried out. Welcome, and let's share.
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