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Cheerleader builds a boat

Capt.EdCapt.Ed Posts: 368 Deckhand
Dear Florida Sportsman Magazine, It would make this girl go crazy to see this in your magazine, if you find it in your heart to publish it.
I know it's a little late, but today I noticed how excited she was when a friend posted a picture of her and her boat on a social media site. I'm sure if it was in print, she would just die to see it in your great magazine.

One day back in 2014, my 16 year old daughter, Emma Thomas, decided she wanted a boat of her own.:)

She has captained several of my boats through her life and has logged many hours running all types of different vessels from tillers to 24 footers. So I had no problem with her owning her own boat.
I build custom boats for people all the time. So I told her if she wanted her own boat, she could either save up money to buy one or I would give her a hull and she could build her own boat with her own hands.:shrug
She has watched me build many many boats in her lifetime and she knows what I can do with any old hull to make her new again. But this time she would be doing all the work herself.
She decided she would rather build a custom boat that she wants her way, rather than buy a cookie cutter boat like other people would have.:wink
So we searched the storage yard and she found a small 15 foot no name skiff she fell in love with. We dragged it out of the woods and her and her brother Tristan started cleaning it up and ripping out the old floor and stringers.:cool:

Next we set the hull up on a three point stance on blocks and I marked off all the places she needed to grind down to bare glass. She jumped in ready to go and grinded non stop all weekend.:cool

Between going to school and Cheer leading practice things went slow, but she put in an hour here and there and every weekend when she wasn't busy with cheering games.

Being that this was her first boat build we decided to keep the cost down and use wood instead of composits materials like Kledgecel or Divinecel and just keep things simple and easy.

After a couple of months of grinding, glassing and grinding some more, she finally had the stringers and floor laid in. But I could tell she was really getting fed up with all the hard work that seemed to barely get anywhere.

So I decided to find something a little easier that would give her a taste of what was to come. We picked out a small center console that had previously been in a boat I built for myself back in 1992 and checked it out to see how it would look in the boat.

She thought the console would be a perfect match for her hull so I had her strip all the hardware off of the console , fill and glass all the holes, fair it out , sand it all smooth and then hand sand it down, all in the same day.

Once all the work was finished on the console, we carried it inside and I pulled out the paint spray gun. I set up the gun and showed her how to make a level solid spray pattern, then I handed her the paint gun and said "you go girl". :crossed In less than thirty minutes the console had acquired a completely new look and Emma was very proud of herself.
The next morning I let her put everything on the console so she could see how her hard work paid off.

Suddenly her smile appeared again and once again things were looking on the bright side.:cool:

OK back to work on the hull again. :cool She cut out and sized in her decks. then started the glass work. All floor and decks were glassed on both sides with two layers of 1 1/2 oz mat. First glassing all the undersides before placing them in the boat.

We needed to put some sort of top cap on the hull to give the walls more strength, stiffen up the walls and have some sort of resting place to lean upon. She traced out her hull and marked out some six inch patterns and began cutting them out.
As soon as they were cut she was ready to glass them in place and get her decks glassed in without even breaking for lunch. :-)

Once the build was complete and the grinding was all behind her the fun started....:grin painting on the no skid. (in a strip pattern using glass beads) then the cover paint and webbing (splatter paint). There is no better feeling in a boat build then the first application of paint. This tells you all the hardest stuff is behind you and things are going to start coming together.

She was extremely happy with the interior paint job and amazed at how quick and simple the webbing went on. She had never actually watched how the webbing was installed on the paint job before and thought the process was just extremely funny.

OK now to get to the outside work and start making her boat pretty.
I came home and caught her under the hull with a sander in her hands and not even a dust cover or breather on.:banghead after a bit of yelling and screaming :blahblah she finally put on the proper equipment and began sanding off the four layers of old paint on the hull.
I believe this was the hardest part of the entire job for her, as she did a lot of complaining about all the sanding she had to do to get that old paint off:blahblah:banghead:blahblah

Soon after all the noise and dust settled, the paint gun came out and the boat began her new life.

Next was to make sure the trailer was all fixed up with new bearings, lights, tag mount and carpet ready to cradle her baby:wink

Now that the boat was starting to look like a fishing machine it was time to locate a motor.
We found an older Johnson 70 with perfect compression and very low hours for it's age. It was sitting on the back of an old pontoon boat on the Swannee river and had been in fresh water all it's life.:)
We cleaned her all up, added a beautiful all white paint job and bumped the carbs up a bit to add a little more power.:thumbsup

As soon as we test fired the motor on the boat Emma was ready to toss her in the water for a test drive. I decided we would be better off just dropping her in our little pond to see how she looks on the water and give the motor a little running time to adjust to the boat:cool: (plus it was late in the day and I did not feel like going for a boat ride.)

She sits like a beauty queen on the water and looks great:)
The next day as soon as Emma got home from school she was ready to go for a test drive. We dropped her in the water at the Yankeetown Marina and started our way out of the Withlacoochee river with smiles from ear to ear.:grin

We drove her around the river for a bit and headed over to the barge canal for some running room.
She ran like a champ. Running out at 38 MPH, She rides smooth as a babies butt and handles like a dream. Emma could not be happier:wink

Not bad at all for a 16 year old Crystal River Florida Cheerleader:wink and I am one very proud daddy:grin
It will be a sad day when the last little mom and pop marina is gone to developers and only the rich will be able to enjoy the waters of Florida.


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