Butterflies and Boats

Updated: Mar 6, 2021


Ahh! the Smell of Fiberglass in the Morning

It’s Spring, and one of my chores was to store the wood storm windows on the shelf in our garage. Twice a year we switch storm windows for wooden screens. My buddy Mark was helping me so we could go bike riding sooner. I think we were headed to the tennis courts past the High level bridge in the Falls.

We had to roll this old wooden boat out of the garage to access the storage shelf easier. It balanced well on the trailer with the motor as counterweight and we had it parked on the lawn in no time. What kid could resist climbing aboard, imagining zooming across the lake, and wondering out loud “Does this thing still run”?

I’m not sure who gave us the advice, but we needed a garbage can to settle the prop in some water to test the engine, and there was still a little really old gas in the 5 gallon can, so we huffed and we puffed and we pulled and finally sputter, sputter, vroom.

The phrase freaking genius could have been created right then. That was us!

Not able to contain our excitement, one of us asked, “I Wonder if it will float?” followed by, “Why don’t we fill it with water to see if it leaks?”

WE DID…. And IT DID

and the rest as they say is the stuff legends are made of.

We removed the water, removed the motor, flipped the boat over on the trailer. We returned it to the garage and after 7 long days we had scraped, sanded, and applied 3 itchy cloth layers of fiberglass and we were watertight.

Memory eludes me if we took the "Bowman" as we referred to it, out to the Portage Lakes to give it go or not. (It looked a lot like this boat only the seats weren't padded).

However, I do vividly remember my Uncle Jerry taking us to the cottage in Michigan, located across from Hayes State Park on Wamplers Lake.

Sample of 15 foot wood Bowman in great condition.
Doesn't this just scream fun?

He knew some people who lived on the lake and they said we could anchor it in the water behind their house. No such luck as a dock, but, the bottom was sandy.

We had a blast screaming as fast as a 33-1/3 HP motor will go.

We learned that shallow water, low speed, and shear pins don’t mix. We also learned carrying a 5-gallon tank a mile or so to get gas is always heavier on the way back.

After a few days enjoyment the motor finally quit. For some brilliant reason we had the top covers off because the starter rope was acting up, and a very important part took flight. It was a butterfly clip, the clip that engages the flywheel, and it lived up to its name, fluttering gracefully into the water. Standing in the waist high water on a recovery mission we actually found it.

Guess what we two hero's did next? We replaced it, primed engine, proceeded to pull cord again, and watched it the butterfly take off again. For good this time.

So, we hauled the boat back to the cottage where my Uncle Ed decided to add an electric starter to prevent this from being a problem in the future. We ordered parts and clips, waited a few days and, sadly, they didn’t work properly. Our time in Michigan came to a close and we had to head home, taking a long last look out the rear window at our motor boating career ending.

Here’s to the fond memories of Summers well spent.


I write these stories with as much attention to detail as possible to recapture all the emotions, but with little regard to chronological order. My esteemed Uncles keep popping in and out and I will try to group articles in the future, and add links to follow-up posts so it might make more sense to follow.


Well I told you my adventure, now tell me yours. Comment, like, post or share.