18 January, 2014

Downhill Boating

Neighbours of my friend Curt bought a used utility trailer this past autumn.  The seller had posted it for a pretty good price, the only stipulation being, whoever wanted the trailer, had to take his old, plywood rowboat off his hands as well. Curt's neighbours agreed, so off they drove with a trailer & a rowboat.

Now, with one rowboat more than they'd cared to have, they started asking around among their friends to see if any of them would be interested in a free rowboat.  When I came over to Curt's place a few days later, he had already declined their generous offer, but he figured he'd let me know about the opportunity.

I have a number friends with cottages so I figured, sure, I'd take it & then pass it along to one of them.  So we made arrangements with Curt's neighbour & I took the boat home.

Now had I given just a little more thought before accepting the boat, I might have realized that  my friends all have cottages on very large lakes - Lake Manitoba & Lake Winnipeg to be specific.  These lakes are so large one can not see across them to the far shore.  Not surprisingly, my friends didn't relish the thought of their children getting blown out across the lake in a small rowboat, so they obviously didn't want it.

That left me thinking about alternative uses for the thing.  Winter was approaching... It is a rather sturdily built, flat bottom boat... Hmmm... Why not use for tobogganing?  So that is what we did.

Late in the evening of Christmas Day, my friends & I have a long standing tradition of going tobogganing at Omands Creek.  This year, I hauled out The ToBOATaggan!

It worked great! The boat has a shallow keel that keeps the thing moving down the hill in a lovely straight line.  That first night of use, the temperature was -11°C so the snow, which had been previously packed down by other tobogganers, was nice and hard.  If we were moving off too far in on direction, we could lean over the other way, which would shift the boat onto the other side of the keel, & we would make a nice gentle course correction.  It was a beautiful ride!

A couple of weeks later, we used the boat again for my church's youth group.  It was quite a bit warmer that day (around 0°C), so the snow was much softer, & therefore the keel dug deeper into the snow, making it a bit slower down the hill.  Even so, it still worked terrifically, and the kids had much fun using it!


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