By Christine Tailer
Greg asked which of two projects I would rather undertake. I could stand in the shade of his shop, the fan blowing across my glistening arms and face, and sort through the rusty fittings we had just taken off the aluminum trailer. This was a new-to-us, 40-year-old aluminum trailer that we are in the process of refurbishing to trundle our steam little launch to and from nearby lakes.
Yes, you read that right. We are now the proud owners of a 60-year-old, 15-foot, wooden boat that is powered by a steam engine. By my count this is project number 9, or maybe number 10, or perhaps 27, on our list of wonderful list things to do. By my reckoning, we are really so very fortunate to be able to wake up each morning and think to ourselves which of our many projects deserves our attention on this particular day. We are never bored.
My other choice was to stand outside in the sun, pressure washer by my side, and hose off the aluminum trailer. This is the project I chose. Even though the day was really quite hot, I imagined the cool mist, back-spraying against me and keeping me wonderfully cool.
I set to work, and even though the washer’s engine was quite loud, the water bouncing back on my body felt refreshing. Not a single inch of me from the cap on my head to the boots on my feet was dry by the time my appointed task was complete. The trailer shone brightly in the sunlight. I wrapped up the washer’s hoses and spray nozzle, and wheeled the heavy machine back into its proper storage place in the pole barn. Then returned to look at the trailer. It was already drying off quite nicely, but alas, I was not.
The day was not only hot, but extremely humid, and I really was quite soaked through. I looked down over my body, and could see my clothes clinging to every inch of me as though stuck to my flesh with adhesive. I quickly realized that my oh-so-glorious washing had resulted in a state of total discomfort, but there was no time to feel sorry for myself. Greg was already pulling the backhoe out of the barn.
The launch still sat on her old rusty trailer, and our plan was to transfer the little boat to the now glistening aluminum trailer. Greg deftly secured the launch with straps, and I stood back as he gently raised her up off of her dilapidated dry dock and set her down on the ground. Thankfully, she was really not that heavy, and we were able to carefully rolled her up on her side and then completely over, as we intended to place her on the aluminum trailer upside down. Our goal is to sand, fiberglass, and then paint the wooden underside, before we begin working on the interior. I smiled. The little launch really did look quite at home in the creek valley as she lay there in the grass.
Once again, Greg and the backhoe lifted the launch high enough for us to place the now glistening trailer underneath her. She settled down into her new dry dock perfectly. We both heaved a sigh of relief, for honestly, we hadn’t known with absolute certainty that she would fit this tailer until she was lowered in place.
So now we are the proud owners of a little wooden steam launch, built in Florida in 1961. We were fortunate to be able to recover her from the Gulf Coast of Alabama and bring her home to the creek. Her hull now sits proudly in our pole barn, waiting for me to sand her wood and then for Greg and I to lay clear fiberglass. Her three horsepower engine and monotube boiler perch atop two work benches in Greg’s shop, patiently waiting for his loving attention and eventual remarriage with the little launch, and then, someday in the not too distant future, you’ll be certain to find Greg and I puttering about a local lake at the break neck speed of six knots. I plan to wear one of my grandmother’s silk scarves tied under my chin to secure my broad brimmed straw hat.
By the end of the day, even though several hours had passed since I had soaked in the pressure washing mist, I was still totally wet, but you know what? I couldn’t help but smile as I peeled off my wet clothes. How could I not smile? I was absolutely, totally in love with this dear little launch, that we have named The Queen.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.