Mr. Fairweather did a thing.
He built a boat.
A kayak to be a little more specific. If you want real specifics, you’ll have to ask him.
To say it has taken a bit of time is the definition of an understatement. He started it ten years ago. For many years it was just the gunnels braced and dowelled hanging from the ceiling of his brother’s barn. It resurfaced once before to get the ribs made and then lived in our sitting room as a chandelier. Quite appropriately, that little house is now known as “the boathouse” even though it may be the furthest inland boathouse you have ever encountered. I’ll give you a tour another day. In that space of time, he has moved country twice, gone back to college, got married, had a baby, lost two, buried a parent and generally dealt with a lot of crappy stuff. But he keeps coming back to the dream of a boat.
The dream really took off last summer when the ribs were bent and positioned. (If the terminology is alien, don’t worry, skin-on-frame kayaks are a bit of a departure for me too). We saved up for the skin (not made from real seals) and artificial sinew. He has been slaving at it recently. Little Paddler loves helping out with “daddy’s báidín” and even hops in to try it out herself from time to time. He has documented a lot of it on Instagram and it is amazing looking back at the process. There have been a lot of late nights spent working out in the boathouse on this.
But lets skip on back to yesterday. Yesterday was huge. It was the first water trial of the boat. Had the seal of the skin set? What were the rockers like? How fast was it? Could you even paddle it in a straight line? And would it turn on a dime? Lots of questions. For me to be honest, all I cared about was that it didn’t sink. That he get a win out of the day.
It was the bank holiday Monday and the beach and woods were busy. He got a lot of strange looks walking down to the mouth of the river along the beach. You could hear a lot of questions being asked. “Where was he going?” “How far would he get?” People stopped to take pictures and ask questions. I was so, so proud to say, he had built it himself and was just testing it out before finishing it off.
I did paparazzi for him and the Little Paddler provided a running commentary which involved a lot of “Hi Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” and “Daddy, I’m up here.” She also provided soundtrack to some videos as she sang songs to herself while picking bluebells and wild garlic in the woods along the bank. It was actually idyllic. Even the sun was shining down. My heart burst for him that it went so well. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
We celebrated afterwards with ice cream back at the harbour because, what else would you do?