March 15th, 2004

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

By Steven H. McGarthwaite

My Father-In-Law (Tom), had an old car top boat, from back when cars had rooftops that could carry the weight (these boats are heavy). Well thru the years the car top boat slowly decayed. A new paint job was not the answer to its needs. He finally was going to toss the boat out and asked if I wanted it. I should have said no, but I do not regret saying, "Yah, sur, Ja Betcha!" (Minnesotan for "Yes").

The boat was an old fiberglass dingy that originally had redwood trim and seats that had been coated along with the rest of the boat, during the many paintovers. When I stripped all the paint off the boat, at least 10 coats of paint, none of which was marine paint, I saw I had lot of work ahead.

The hull had been patched along the water line in two places where something punctured the side of the boat, and would have to be repaired. The trim and seats were completely rotted through. The wood keel had to be replaced, and the bolts through the bottom of the boat were more rust than metal and snapped off when trying to remove the keel.

Redwood trim and seats and a keel, shaped from a treated 2 x 4. I painted the outside of the boat Fire Engine Red, and the inside of the hull Bright White. Marine paint is expensive and so is the primer, but the big cost was the redwood for the trim and seats which were all coated with Spar Varnish and sanded between the many coats of varnish.

Peewee, my Father-in-Law's lifelong friend, came over to see the old fishing boat they use to fish in. Peewee told me that I could come over to his house for the motor any time I wanted to get it.

Seemed that Tom bought the boat, and Peewee bought the motor, because neither back then could afford to buy both. Life-long friends and fishing buddies.

Anyway I went over to see this outboard expecting it to be a wreck, like the boat had been. To my surprise, I found a mint conditioned "Evenrude Fleet-twin 7-horse outboard. Peewee had maintained it thru the years, it did not even have a scratch on the engine housing.

Finally the big day came to launch the boat (with the motor). I made sure that Tom and Peewee were there for the relaunching. I had named the boat "Ima."

After it was in the water and did not sink, I told them to get in to take it out on its new maiden run.

Flash Forward:

Every year on White Bear Lake they have a classic boat parade on the 4th of July. To join the parade of boats, entrants have to have a boat that is over 40 years old and as close to original as possible. I was accepted to join the parade of boats, but was stuck at the end of the parade as the only dinghy in the group.

The day of the parade came and everyone got into position for the parade around the lake. The people who live on the lake were down on their docks with friends to view the grand procession of boats. Others were lined-up on the public beaches with their folding chairs to take in the festivities.

I was very proud of my work and what I had accomplished repairing the boat. When we finally past the official reviewing stands, I heard some of the judges break out in laughter when my boat came into view. The boat was more beautiful then it ever had been, as I had waxed the outside of the hull to make it shine in the sunlight.

I paraded past the judges on the reviewing stand with the little boat shining, the red paint glowing, and the name "Ima" clearly visible on the side of the boat. I had a tall pole placed on the mid-seat of the boat with signal flags (bow-to-stern) fluttering in the breeze and an American Flag waving at the stern. I sat erect, at the tiller of the Evenrude as the judges where poking each other in their sides and pointing at my little boat.

I won the trophy for best boat in the parade. The reason that the judges were just about falling out of their chairs was the boats name and the signal flags I had running from bow to stern. If you can read signal flags, the message aloft said, "Ima Little Dingy." ~ Parnelli

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