When we brought you 10 Homemade Boats That Will Rock Your World, we certainly weren't hoping to see any copy-cat boatbuilders out there going off the reservation. And truth be told, the pair of guys recently fished out of the waters off Essex, UK, didn't say whether they were inspired by our article. Yet one glance at the Essex Special provides proof that where there's a will to go boating, there's a way.
Designed and constructed (we're using those terms loosely) by two men in their 20s from insulation boards, coat hangers, plywood, and silicone adhesive, the eight-foot "boat" managed to survive a weekend of fishing. But when the oars broke and an offshore breeze set in, the men found themselves drifting hopelessly away from their intended destination. Big surprise: there were no lifejackets or secondary means of propulsion aboard. Oh, and one of the men was apparently unable to swim. Luckily, one of them did have an operative cell phone, which they used to call the Thames Coastguard.
The men were rescued—and thoroughly brow-beaten about the technical demands of seagoing vessels—before the Essex Special was euthanized. Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteer Joff Strutt, who was involved in the rescue, said: “They had been out fishing when their oars snapped, leaving them helpless. The men were taken aboard the lifeboat and checked over before they were taken ashore to Clacton Coastguard for some safety advice.” And yet despite being called out on a rescue that shouldn’t have been necessary, Mr Strutt went on to describe the affair with impressive benevolence as nothing more than "a project that went pear-shaped.”
While we have no problem with folks building their own boats, the bigger question is what you do with those homemade boats. Do you plan to launch it in a pond, or a slow-moving river no wider than your driveway? That's good. Push off the beach and start paddling for Bermuda? That's not so good.
Here's what happened when Got Bait? star Max Rudow decided to take matters into his own hands, and built a fishing raft with a friend right here in the good ol' US of A.
A hammer, some nails, some boards, and a bunch of fresh-cut bamboo did not prove sufficient to keep the two afloat. We are, however, happy, proud, and somewhat relieved to say that unlike those two baffling Brits, these American15 year-olds were smart enough to launch their creation in a small pond with a maximum depth of two feet. Like the Essex Special, their raft was disassembled shortly after its maiden voyage.