Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gonna Build Me A Boat

This is a speech that I presented at a Toastmasters' Humorous Speech Contest in the fall of 2010.  It pretty well sums up where I'm coming from as far as it comes to boats and boating.

Since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of sailing around the world, visiting foreign lands, and seeing incredible sites.  Although I’ve made a start toward this goal a time or two, something has always seemed to get in the way.  A job change, a move, or family would come between me and my dream.  Now, as my son is getting older, and I am getting closer to retirement age, that boat has begun to creep back into my thoughts.  I’ve always enjoyed building things, and it occurred to me that I could build my own boat.  Mr. Contest Master, fellow Toastmasters, and Guests, I’d like to tell you about how I’m gonna build me a boat.

My dream boat is a 40’ cutter rigged cruising sailboat.  There’s nothing particularly special about this type of craft.  You’ll see hundreds like it if you go down to any marina in America.  This is the size of boat that would cost you as much as a medium sized house.  But by building it myself, it will only cost as much as a small house.  At least the cost is spread out over a period of several years, since a large boat is not something one man can build quickly.  More than a few people have built boats in their back yard, and if they can do it, then so can I!  Or can I?  My house doesn’t have a very large back yard.  Even if it did, the Home Owners Association in my neighborhood would have something to say about it.

I know that some of my neighbors have little projects of one sort or another that they work on in their garages!  Surely the HOA will have no complaint if I build my boat completely inside my garage!  My garage is about 20 feet long.  With this in mind, I found a nice little sailboat design:  18’ – 6”, and almost 8 feet wide.  This will easily fit in the garage while I’m building it.  Afterwards, I can throw it on a trailer, and pull it around to whichever lake I want to go sailing on.   

Did I mention that I haven’t built a boat by myself before?   Sure, I helped my dad build a 16’ runabout when I was a teenager, but that was 30-odd years ago.  While I know I can do the woodworking, I’m less sure about the fiberglass.  I’d really hate to start a $10,000 project only to realize half way through that I hated my new hobby.  Maybe I need to scale it back a bit.  I know!  I can set a total budget of $1,000 for my boat.  This way, if I gave up halfway through, I’d only be out $500.  I can live with that.  If I did happen to go beyond the halfway point, I could probably force myself to finish the job, no matter how much I hated it. 

With that $1,000 figure in mind, I determined that I could build and equip an 8’ sailing dinghy.  This would easily fit in my garage, and the my costs won’t exceed $500 until the boat was practically finished, minus things like hardware and sails.  This is ideal!  I’ve ordered the plans for this boat.  As soon as I get the garage workspace ready, I can get started. [Pause] Did I mention that my garage needs some work?  Let’s just say that if you look in the encyclopedia under “disaster”, you’ll see a picture of my garage.

You would expect a two and a half car garage to have room to build a boat… and it might, if I could convince my wife to move her car.  Does anyone want to lay odds on the chances of that? [Pause] I’ve been spending the last couple of months trying to clean up the mess, adding shelving and a new workbench.  Another week or two, and I should be ready to go.

Of course, installing shelving and building the work bench… and buying new power tools… wasn’t cheap.  My wife tells me that I can’t spend any more money on the boat until next year.  So I’ve got a few more months to plan and dream before I can start my practice Dinghy… to see if I like boat building enough to build a Day Sailor… to hold me until I retire and move somewhere where I have room to build my dream boat.

I’m gonna build me a boat.  Mr. Contest Master.

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