The Old Manatee( a work in progress)
by J Mathews
I found her in the back lot of a marina, looking forlorn and forgotten.
However, she had the most graceful lines I'd ever seen.
I then navigated all the other local marina's back lots after viewing the available derelicts.
I was drawn back to her, perhaps by her lines.
The end of the day found me walking beside her, studying the line of her sheer, thinking of the artist who had built her.
Then in what appeared to be the office; I had a conversation with the elderly gentleman there indicating she might be for sale.
But to make a deal on her, I had to go to the marina office down by the water.
As I left the office the old man smiled at me with a wiry glint in his eye and said " It takes a special kind of crazy to want to restore an old wooden boat."
Unknowing of what I'd gotten into, I flipped off "Well I can bring by a few friends who can attest to my special kind of crazy."
The old man smiled and said "Well I don't have much room to talk I've restored three of those troublesome ladies."
I went to the office and struck a deal to buy her for five hundred bucks in storage fees.
Not a bad deal for a forty three foot long "pile of lumber disuised as a boat", to borrow a line from the book "Rebuilding the Rose"; an inspirational book to anyone thinking about rebuilding a wooden boat.
Fast forward a few years, I was on her foredeck working on some stubborn hardware, when another old gentleman rode by on a tractor, to pull an actioned boat out of the mud her trailer had sunk into over the years.
As he rode by he yelled "She was a fine craft in her day!"
Not even thinking, of the time I'd spent on her, I answered over the roar of his tractor "I intend to make her a fine craft again!"
He smiled saying I look forward to seeing her back in the water where she belongs.
Be wary of wooden boats they are addictive.