Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sinking of the White Pearl

A week has passed since the event, but it’s still fresh in my mind as if it happened only minutes ago: my son went down with his pirate ship, the White Pearl. (No worries. He came back up. This story is not a tragedy.) About five weeks back, my son’s friend invited my son to participate in Sunbury’s upcoming Cardboard Boat Regatta. Roughly, the rules require that boats entered in the regatta be made entirely of cardboard. Though they can be held together at the seams with duct tape, the boat cannot be covered entirely with duct tape. After that, only glue, caulk, and paint are allowed.

My son’s friend designed a boat that resembled the great ships of old-time pirates. Together my son and his friend cut cardboard, glued it together, caulked seams, painted, and created special decorative touches. There was a mast, a skull-and-crossbones flag, a crow’s nest, and a bowsprit. There were pirate costumes, a toy parrot on a shoulder, a baby doll with a pirate’s hat in the crow’s nest, and the ship’s name: The White Pearl painted on its bow.

baby on board

At the regatta, there were dozens of clever boat designs: one shaped like a dragon, another like a hammerhead shark, a truck with wheels, a small car, a gondola, something called Alien Invasion, and even the Titanic II (which looked more like a river barge or a rectangular canoe than an ocean liner).

There were three divisions: Adults-only, mixed adults and children, and children-only. During the race of the mixed division, I learned that moms and their teenaged sons should not build and race cardboard boat together. She yelled, “J stroke! J stroke!” He yelled, “I’m trying.” She yelled, “Sweep! Sweep!” He yelled, “Shut up!” Neither looked happy, though their boat stayed afloat through the whole race.

Then there was the White Pearl. Two good friends, dressed (roughly) as pirates, set the boat in the water. My son’s friend in front, my son in back, gently climbed into the great ship. My son, however, could not get his right leg into the boat—with each attempt, the boat listed hard to the port side (left)… and then the starter’s horn sounded.

The mass of boats surged forward as the crew of the White Pearl paddled. With each stroke, the great ship listed more to port. After, perhaps, five or six strokes, the great ship’s mast fell, and only seconds later the spine of the White Pearl cracked… she hadn’t even cleared the end of the dock.

The stalwart pirates managed to save the baby, as they dragged sixty pounds of soggy cardboard out of the river. The whole mess went into a nearby dumpster. But, when prizes were awarded, my son and his friend received notice for Best Sinking! Knowing the deadly sins, I try not to feel pride, but on this day my soul is weak. I so hope they enter next year’s cardboard boat regatta.

For the complete City Slipper experience, visit my web site at http://www.cityslipper.com/.

Also, please visit my blogs about growing your own vegetables and fruit: Your Small Kitchen Garden and Your Home Kitchen Garden


Judith Shakespeare said...

LOL. I'd be full of pride as well... And, quite honestly, "Best Sinking" tops the standard ol' first place any day.

And that ship!!! They did an amazing job!

Sandy C. said...

Wow! I love the ship :) They did a great job putting that together.