I’ve always had this idea in my mind of what a boat is supposed to look like, and I’m now realising that it’s a rather whimsical picture that doesn’t especially reflect reality. I blame it on my Uncle Harold, who would take us down to the wharf and show us how to make paper boats, usually out of newspaper from the fish and chips he would get for us. We would put the boats on the water and watch them bob away towards the nearby mangroves.
In retrospect, it was definitely littering, yet also wholesome verging on saccharine. Good memories, in any case, especially since our parents wouldn’t let us have deep fried food. After Uncle Harold passed away a few months ago, it occurred to me that I could honour his memory by fulfilling my childhood imaginings of owning a real boat. With that, I began researching what’s involved in marine stainless steel fabrication. Near Melbourne, I discovered, there are a number of specialist marine welders, so I duly set off to speak to a few of them about realising my vision.
Not to say that my bubble was burst, but I was caught a little off guard by the essentially industrial and utilitarian nature of most of the boats suited to my purposes. I don’t know what I had in mind, exactly, but I guess it was something more… papery. Wood, I suppose, is what I had envisaged. I certainly hadn’t thought about motors or petrol, let alone fixtures such as bow rails. Paper boats have a simplicity to them, and obviously that’s because they don’t need to support any weight or not be death traps, for that matter.
I mean, I came to terms with it pretty quickly. It wasn’t a huge deal or anything. It’s just that part of me was stuck in the childhood memory of ‘making a boat’, and I’d never thought to correct myself. In conclusion, I am getting a boat fabricated, and I think it’s a nice thing to do regardless of how well it maps onto the whole paper boat scenario.