Das Boat

We're back! Sorry about the absence- we simply haven't had much to report lately. Unlike many blogs, we've chosen to not write about: 1) politics 2) religion 3) private thoughts 4) mundane daily activities 5) Britney Spears 6) Britney Spears' sister, ex-husband, boyfriends, et. al. With such self-imposed content restrictions in place, an unintentional consequence is limited posting when not much is happening other than working, eating, and sleeping (which pretty much sums up our last month).

But the weather has finally broken, and as we prepare for another boating season, we have something noteworthy to report: fixing the dire situation aboard the Sunbird SS 185, the flagship of the RR fleet. Three years ago, we noticed the floor was becoming spongy around the ski well. Two years ago, the rot began to spread like a bad cancer to adjacent plywood. Last year, nearly the entire floor felt like it was about to collapse under foot. When we put the boat away last fall, we realized it needed some serious attention before launching in 2008.

So last week we removed the outer plastic tarp, only to discover massive ice blocks had formed on the canvas cover. Water from rain and melting snow must have percolated through the tarp over the past few months and pooled on the canvas, which shredded like wet newspaper when we attempted to remove it from the boat. Piece of crap canvas cover.

After we removed the icebergs and seats and filthy carpeting, we discovered how truly bad the damage was. Years of exposure had rotted the center panel so badly it resembled a crank addict's mouth. Prying away the rotten plywood was easy- it broke away like bits of pecorino cheese. But not so much elsewhere- solid plywood coated in fiberglass and epoxy and thick ice made removal a back-wrenching exercise in boat maintenance. Like a wise sage once told us, the two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it- and the day you sell it.

Fortunately, the sun warmed away layers of ice and we were able to remove the plywood flooring above the gas tank.

Hours later, we had the hull scoured and ready for a new floor. We drove to the lumber yard only to find they were closed on a Saturday afternoon- a surprise, since we assumed a lumber yard would be open for business on the day most homeowners are working on house projects. We'll get the new plywood sometime this week and next weekend we'll slap it in, slather some epoxy on it, and staple in the new carpeting. It's gonna look nice and you will be most impressed with how it turns out.


Cards from an Airman

Interspersed among thousands of old postcards at Kaleidoscope Books in Ann Arbor are many of the cards sent by Army Air Corp Private Edw. M. Siantz to his future father-in-law, Valentine Smutek. From 1942-1943, Valentine Smutek spent 14 months in a body cast at a Detroit hospital following spinal surgery and Private Siantz was stationed at Kessler Field in Mississippi, training to become an Air Cadet. Aside from documenting the day to day activities of an airman in training, the cards memorialize the friendship and respect between the two men.

Valentine Smutek passed away in 1965 and Edward "Eddie" Siantz passed away in 2000. We'll share some of his postcards with you before we send to his family.

December 23, 1942:
Hi Pop. Well, I feel much better today because I got two letters from my Virg. I also got my x-mas gifts from home just what I needed too. I hope you are feeling as good as I am today. Good luck-Eddie

January 29, 1943:
Hi Pop. How are you feeling today? I finally got some new type cards, cute, I think. I got two letters from Virg today so I feel pretty good although I am very tired from loafing yesterday. It was our day off. Good luck. Eddie.

July 22, 1943:
Hi Pop. How are you today? I hope it isn't as hot in Detroit as it is here. Boy the sweat just pours out of us. All I did today was work on a little detail. We start classes Monday and we get our books today. Classes last 4 weeks and then...? Good luck, Eddie.

August 17, 1943:
Hi Pop- How are you feeling today. Helen and Ray have probably been over to see you. I know that's one of the first places I would go, just like I did on my furlough. You have certainly treated me well and I only hope I can repay you and live up to your expectations of me. Take care of yourself. Good luck Eddie.

August 18, 1943:
Hi Pop- how are you today? Boy, this is a grand day for us. I leave for home Monday for about 15 days and I'll see you next week at this time. Boy, it's going to be good to get home again. I can't wait. I told Virg all about it and so I'll bet she's glad. Well, Pop I'll see you next Wednesday. Good luck, Eddie.

November 26, 1943:
Hi Pop- how are you feeling today? I hope your feeling better. Don't believe the other side of this card because this will be the longest stop I've made since I became a cadet (4 months). I'm going to do some extra studying tonight. Good luck- Eddie.

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