Our Ugly Old Canoe.

I’m not sure how much I’ve ever talked about it. Our canoe. It’s old. It’s ugly. And it leaks. I know I’ve uploaded a couple pictures of fish in the bottom of it, in pools of water.

Matt's little pike.

You can see the water under him.

You can see the water under him.

Last weekend, Brother’s friend observed that not only was paddling it like steering a semi truck, but “we also appear to be taking on water?”. We assured him that yeah, that was perfectly normal. Nights up north where we left it partially beached, we’d return to it and have to dump it out before me pushed off. Matt did buy it for $60 from a guy on Craigslist. That guy had repaired the hull with a piece of aluminum and some Bondo (not kidding). Watching Brother’s Friend paddle it around trying to pick up fallen ducks, I realized why we got all those funny looks. Thing is ugly.

Our ugly old canoe in the shelter we put up for Ditch Boat.

Our ugly old canoe in the shelter we put up for Ditch Boat.

Well, Matt’s planning on taking 3-5 people with him tomorrow for the duck opener. At least two guys from his office, and at least two I know of from the Janesville office. Our jon boat can hold 3 grown men, max, if we’re also hauling guns and decoys. So, the canoe is going with. But we both felt bad about sticking some poor fools in our leaky, tippy canoe for their first time duck hunting. Matt’s been meaning to fix the leak all summer, but doing it from the outside would mean sanding off all the paint, scraping off all the Bondo, removing that piece of aluminum, and starting fresh. He slapped on a BandAid for the time being. For permanent if it works out.

SAMSUNGHe laid fiberglass all down the middle, where the cracks were. It’s been drying under Ditch Boat’s shelter for the last few days. It’s been dry and relatively warm, with very low humidity. So, hopefully we now have a more watertight canoe for the newbs to use, and for us to have. It’s still pretty ugly, though.



Everything Has to be Difficult.

I know that in the PlayOutdoors household, we don’t typically do things the easy way. And given how easily I was able to find content to put in those links just now, I shouldn’t really be surprised at how anything yesterday went down.

While I did manage to get the wiring straightened out a little bit, I was still completely unable to find an owner’s manual for this boat, much less a wiring diagram that would have been any kind of useful. I even scoured iBoats, as recommended by both dear old Dad, and by the sales department of Reinell’s new ownership (they finally answered that email I sent). That at least got done though.

Matt got home surprisingly early yesterday. Normally, he’s home anywhere between 8pm and 10. Yesterday he pulled up around 6, just as I was making dinner and saving him a plate. We hung out for a bit, but I’m really itching to get out and fish, damnit, so I’ve been pestering him like nothing else to get the boat trailer fixed. We trekked on down to Farm and Fleet as more thunderstorms rolled in, wheel hub in hand so we can try to match up a replacement part.

Ideally, we'll find both the hub and the drum to cover it.

Ideally, we’ll find both the hub and the drum to cover it. You can also see the flat spot we ground into the rim.

If I had a dollar for every time we’d gone into a retail store this year, and caused the poor service clerk to go “…Hmmm…Uhhhh.”. Unfortunately, this isn’t like finding parts for a car or truck. You can’t just tell them it’s a 1996 Chevy whatever. This is just an old, homely little boat trailer. To top it off, the entire trailer had been spray painted a number of times, and any marking on the hub to indicate size has long since been hidden. The initial clerk we talked to even chuckled how this thing had been red, then black, then red again.

Our nearest Farm and Fleet had a trailer parts section, but no hubs that would fit the spindle on our axle. The truck and trailer parts store next door was closed already, so we might give that a go today. We tried the O’Reilly up the road. They had some that were close matches, but nothing that fit what we needed. They, however, pulled out the micrometers to measure exactly. They also recommended two more truck/hauling/trailer specialty stores in town that either might have something we need, or could order it more easily. So they were at least helpful in that regard. Matt says that if these places can’t help us, he’s already found a similarly sized trailer at a place near his office, and that we’re dropping the $250 to just get a new one, rather than continuing to hassle with this thing.

While still at Farm and Fleet though, we found that they carry fiberglass cloth and resin at about half the price as Home Depot. And they also sell a number of specialty paints and enamel, made for engines and whatnot. Matt got a bunch of resin and cloth to begin patching the hole he put into the boat, as well as the crack near the stern.

In further we-do-things-the-hard-way news, we took the wire brushes to the gas tank for a little while last night.  Matt was telling me he’d seen gas tanks half the size of ours for almost $300. Theoretically having to pay $600 for the kind of tank we need, when we still haven’t even found a tandem axle trailer for the thing? Ugh. I set to wire brushing with a vengeance.  Fortunately, all of the rust on the outside seems to be on the top of the gas tank, even though it was sitting in that grody wet foam. I got a lot of the bubbling, peeling old enamel off my end, and I brushed a lot of the rust off, too. Next time we do this, we’re wearing masks, though. I’m still sneezing black.

You can see all the rust powder on the floor.

You can see all the rust powder on the floor.

Another Task Chipped Away.

It was muggy, my entire backside and legs were itchy. My hands were covered in fiberglass dust, and I was muttering impolite words about the work of marine electricians from the early 70s. But, what really counts is that I got everything disconnected. All the forward electrical is separated, snipped, and labelled. Most of the wires inside the console are labelled. It had glass fuses, even. None of them blown.


There was also a little panel of metal tabs that other wire terminals plugged onto, which you can see top right of the photo. I numbered and labelled them the same way I did the fuses. There was one wiring harness in the entire mess, and it supplied power to this doohickey, which I assume is the “blower” that a sign above the ignition says to let run before starting.


Anyhow. Now that this is all done, we can take the console out and the rest of the wires to the rear of the boat can hang out overboard for a while. While the heavy rainfall over the last two days has rinsed a lot of the fiberglass dust out of the rear of the boat, there’s still plenty under the roof. I was out there in a squall today and noted plenty of leaks we’ll have to address.

Everything labelled as neatly as possible.

Everything labelled as neatly as possible.

All the wires to the electrical components up front are tied up and out of the way.

All the wires to the electrical components up front are tied up and out of the way.

I’m glad this part is done.

Daily Prompt: Goals

Once again, I came to WordPress during my morning internet jaunt, aware that with the return of only romping outdoors on weekends, I have much less to write about during the week. And once again, the Daily Prompt was something that wouldn’t seem out of place here. I swear they know exactly when I’ve gotten all excited about writing and put my posts up immediately, instead of patiently spacing them out.

So, the Prompt asked- did I set any goals when I started this blog, and if so, have I achieved any? I think the only concrete goal I really set, besides Matt wanting to get Internet Famous,  was that I wanted to keep doing my outdoors hobbies, only I wanted to write about doing it. And put up pictures, obviously.

These posts are the equivalent of me sitting on a log, staring at the water, and swinging my feet.

These posts are the equivalent of me sitting on a log, staring at the water, and swinging my feet.

Looking at the topics I’ve covered over the last 5-6 months, I would say yes, I achieved that goal. I’ve written about fishing (ice, fly, and otherwise), turkey hunting, and what we do with the animals we end up harvesting. On top of all the activities actually done outdoors, I’ve also sort of expanded the blog to include covering things like refinishing our old camper, reporting on the new things Matt dragged home from various outdoor retail outlets (see the Toys tag), and writing in detail about the acquisition and renovation of the Ditch Boat (see the What Have I Gotten Myself Into tag and the Boat Renovation category). That’s fortunate, because otherwise I’d only be posting once a week, if that in winter.

As for goals I didn’t spell out in writing? I think a big one was that I like to write about successes, even if I am a total beginner at so much of this stuff. So, in that arena there’s some room for improvement. Just take a look at my Fail tag, and you’ll see that more often than not, the critters win. Which is why they call it fishing, not catching, etc. However, it’s still a small tag after 5 or 6 months. Just wait until deer and duck season, particularly archery deer. And we’ve got the entire summer of fishing to do yet.

Another unwritten goal I had was to improve upon my writing and possibly my picture taking (I wouldn’t call what I do photography). I’d like to get this blog to a point where maybe someone would find it Freshly Pressable. Admittedly, I would need to have a big tick mark to put into the Big Success Story column to make that easier. It would be easier to write well and in an excited way if I had a big success story to tell. I’m not at a point yet where I can write eloquently about big fails.

I think keeping it simple and continuing my goal of writing about my hobbies as we do them is a good idea. I’ll keep the Freshly Pressed goal simmering, though.

Daily Prompt: Come View my Personal Creative Space.

I come online with my coffee and my breakfast shake/ banana, intending to google ways to remove possibly decades-old pine tar from aluminum, or maybe look up a few things to tweak with my work outs (having serious weird fatigue and boredom with shoulder presses and lat pulls). And the Daily Prompt sucked me in again.

As I explained when I answered the last daily prompt, I started this blog because I needed some sort of a creative, intellectual outlet. I also think Matt and I do some pretty interesting things. I know my writing isn’t deeply intellectual; it’s mostly very expository. I’m not really writing about personal feelings or life events as if this were a journal, and I write in a pretty conversational tone. What I’m getting at here is that I’m very obviously writing for Someone. They need to see it or I’m just talking to myself here, and explaining to oneself what one did over the weekend seems not only redundant, but really kind of weird. On top of that, Matt still really wants to get Internet Famous.

I do enjoy just putting some paragraphs out there (creative outlet, remember?). After a big long “What I did over summer vacation”-style post, I feel not unlike I do after a tough workout- like I got something off my chest, slightly drained (in a good way!), and rewarded. Sometimes, I feel that more when I can respond to a Daily Prompt. Who knows how I’ll feel when I can finally do a Photo Challenge. So, this blog is a bit of a personal space in that way, too, to balance the previous paragraph out.

Even though I’ve only been around WordPress for about 4 months now, I’ve noticed trends. When I write about my old 1966 TrailBlazer camper, more people come take a look. Not as many people swing by when I write about failing at ice fishing. But open water fishing is much more popular. Our little wooden john boat and the travails we face there isn’t such a big deal, but that 20-foot ditch boat drew some chuckles (Maybe that was title selection). Any time I add on to my Wild Food series, people really respond well to that. It makes sense- more people read and write about food, vintage campers, and fishing than read or write about ice fishing and little wooden boats. I try to post about my Wild Food as often as possible but I work nights so it’s a little tough. Throughout summer, there will be a lot more posting about the camper and fishing. Those are very seasonal topics. Who knows what will happen whenever I finally post about hunting. I’ll find out after next week when my turkey tags are valid, but I’m much more likely to be successful during deer season in the Fall. Increased readership then could be good or bad- there are some passionate anti-hunters out there.

I know there are things I could do to attract more readers outside of focusing on the most popular topics. I can only say so much about the camper, especially once it’s finally finished. This blog is still very new, so expecting hundreds of pageviews a day would be pretty silly. However, I linked it to my Pinterest, and I started a Twitter account (even if I’m not a great Twitterer). I tag things as WPLongform, and I write for the prompts when the topic is appropriate for this blog. I know that if I linked it to Facebook, and shared the Facebook page with my friends and family, my readership would seriously spike. But I’m still sort of chicken to try that. My high school English teacher might come here and see this. Then she’d see all my use of passive voice, and maybe sentence fragments, dangling participles, run ons, and oh dear. At least I use Oxford commas. I keep saying I’m waiting until I have something good to share, before I get on Facebook with it. I don’t know exactly what I’m waiting for, but I’ll do it eventually.

The question on the prompt, though, was would I do the thing that would triple my readership? My best answer is a shaky, upward intoned Maybe? Like I said, I can only say so much about renovating that camper until it’s finally done. I need to clean the pine tar off her, then scrape and paint the exterior (can I call it a fuselage?). I am only able to cook a couple nights a week, and our fishing and hunting trips are restricted largely to weekends, unless we can sneak out on a weeknight. I know I’m writing for a pretty limited audience, if we just count people on WordPress who already fish, hunt, etc. It’s neat when people who don’t do those things swing by. It’s pretty neat to think I’m maybe making something that is typically seen as a rural white guy’s community (and it’s not very inclusive in person, lemme tell you. Online is different) seem a little more accessible. Someone in the Community Pool months ago told me that I could always reblog things I found interesting. I suppose I could, but then I’d have to come across on-topic stuff. I might try doing that rather than just pinning the things I see. To get more views outside of other WordPressers, that is, get noticed in the hunting/outdoors community (if I ever do get noticed, period), I would probably need to get Internet Famous on WordPress first. I don’t have the time, know-how, or gumption to go to hunting conferences or anything.

I suppose that overall, I’m still figuring out how I want to draw viewers. I already have a specific focus for the blog itself, that part was easy. It’s more publicizing it now, I think. If this prompt helped to solidify one thing, it is that I’m writing for an audience, and I do like checking my stats and seeing a new record number of views, likes, and follows (it’s been a while though).